They also might get a runny nose, cough, and stomachache.
Thanks to the chickenpox vaccine,
kids don't get chickenpox as much as they once did.
What Are the Signs of Chickenpox?
Chickenpox may start out seeming like a cold: You might have a runny or stuffy
nose, sneezing, and a cough.
But 1 to 2 days later, the rash
begins, often in bunches of spots on the chest and face. From there it can spread
out quickly over the entire body — sometimes the rash is even in a person's ears and
You've probably heard that chickenpox is itchy.
It's true! The chickenpox blisters are small and sit on an area of red skin that can
be anywhere from the size of a pencil eraser to the size of a dime.
At first, the rash looks like pinkish dots that quickly develop a small blister
on top (a blister is a bump on your skin that fills up with fluid). After about 24
to 48 hours, the fluid in the blisters gets cloudy and the blisters begin to crust
Chickenpox blisters show up in waves. So after some begin to crust over, a new
group of spots might appear. It usually takes 10–14 days for all the blisters to be
scabbed over and then you are no longer contagious.
How Does Chickenpox Spread?
Chickenpox is contagious, meaning that somebody who has it can easily spread
it to someone else. A person with chickenpox is most contagious during the first 2
to 5 days of being sick. That's usually about 1 to 2 days before the rash shows
up. So you could be spreading around chickenpox without even knowing it!
Someone with chickenpox can pass it to others by coughing or sneezing, when tiny
drops come out of the mouth and nose. These drops are full of the chickenpox virus.
It's easy for others to breathe in these drops or get them on their hands. Before
you know it, the chickenpox virus has infected someone new.
If you are that unlucky person, how do you keep your chickenpox from driving you
crazy? They itch, but you shouldn't scratch them. Scratching the blisters can tear
your skin and leave scars. Scratching also can let germs in, and the blisters could
These tips can help you feel less itchy:
Keep cool because heat and sweat
will make you itch more. You might want to put a lukewarm washcloth on the really
Trim your fingernails, so if you do scratch, you won't tear your skin.
Soak in a lukewarm bath. Adding some
to your bath water can help relieve the itching.
Have your mom or dad help you apply calamine lotion, which soothes itching.
If your fever goes higher and an area of your skin gets really red, warm, and painful,
tell an adult right away. You'll need to see a doctor because you could have an infection.
How Can I Feel Better?
While you have the chickenpox, a pain reliever like
might help you feel better, but let your parents help you with this. Medicines
and creams that may stop the itch can also be helpful.
Do not take aspirin because it can cause a rare but serious illness
in kids called Reye syndrome.
It doesn't usually happen, but let your parents know if you feel especially bad.
Sometimes, chickenpox leads to other, more serious illnesses.
Most kids don't have any major problems and get better in a week or two. And when
all the blisters have scabs, you're not contagious anymore and you can go back to
school! In a few days, the scabs will fall off. A kid who gets chickenpox is unlikely
to ever get it again.
Get a Shot, Avoid the Dots!
Not long ago, millions of people got chickenpox each year in the United States.
But now that kids get the vaccine, fewer and fewer people get chickenpox.
Kids get the chickenpox vaccine as two shots:
a first shot when they're 12–15 months old
a booster shot when they're 4–6 years old
But kids can get vaccinated when they're older too. Ask your mom or dad if you've
had your shots. You'll be glad that you did if chickenpox starts making its way around