Chickenpox: Symptoms, Treatment, Types, and What Parents Should Know

Chickenpox kids symptoms treatments
Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a common childhood illness caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is highly contagious and can easily spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing, or contact with fluid from the blisters. While most cases of chickenpox are mild, it can sometimes lead to serious complications, especially in people with weakened immune systems.


The symptoms of chickenpox typically appear 10-21 days after exposure to the virus and can last for several weeks. They include:

  • A red, itchy rash that starts on the face, chest, and back and then spreads to other parts of the body
  • Blisters that fill with fluid and then break open and crust over
  • Fever, headache, and body aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue

Types of Chickenpox

There are three types of chickenpox:

  1. Typical chickenpox: This is the most common form of chickenpox and is characterized by a widespread, itchy rash that covers the entire body.
  2. Modified chickenpox: This is a milder form of chickenpox that occurs in people who have received the varicella vaccine. The rash is usually less severe and lasts for a shorter period of time.
  3. Severe chickenpox: This is a rare but serious form of chickenpox that can occur in people with weakened immune systems, such as newborns, pregnant women, and people with HIV. The rash is usually more extensive and may lead to complications such as pneumonia or encephalitis.

Treatment of Chickenpox

There is no cure for chickenpox, but treatment can help relieve symptoms and prevent complications. Treatment options include:

  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce fever and relieve pain
  • Calamine lotion or oatmeal baths to soothe the skin and relieve itching
  • Antiviral medications, such as acyclovir, for people with severe chickenpox or who are at high risk for complications

What parents can do

If your child has chickenpox, there are several things you can do to help relieve their symptoms and prevent the spread of the virus:

  • Keep your child home from school or daycare until all of the blisters have crusted over, which usually takes about a week
  • Encourage your child to rest and drink plenty of fluids
  • Give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce fever and relieve pain
  • Apply calamine lotion or give oatmeal baths to relieve itching
  • Cut your child’s fingernails short to help prevent them from scratching and spreading the virus
  • Make sure your child does not come into contact with people who have weakened immune systems, such as newborns, pregnant women, or people with HIV

Immunity after Chickenpox

Having chickenpox provides long-term immunity against the virus. However, the virus can reactivate later in life and cause shingles, a painful rash that affects one side of the body. The best way to prevent chickenpox and shingles is to get vaccinated. The varicella vaccine is recommended for all children, adolescents, and adults who have never had chickenpox or the vaccine.

Follow on Facebook