Chickenpox is a common illness. Anyone can catch it, but it is most common in children under 10 years old. It usually causes mild symptoms that take 1 to 2 weeks to clear.1
Chickenpox is caused by a virus called varicella-zoster. It is highly contagious, meaning it easily passes from person-to-person. 1
Chickenpox can be caught anytime. 1
The most common symptom of chickenpox is a red, itchy rash across the body.1
The rash has 3 stages.2
Your child may not get any other symptoms but sometimes they may:
Sometimes, your child may have a severe reaction and you may need to contact your GP or 111 for more advice.1
Call your GP or 111 if your child:
Chickenpox can usually be managed at home. There are different ways you can improve your child’s symptoms.
If you live with someone who has a weakened immune system (vulnerable person), for example, someone who is having cancer treatment, you and your household may be able to get the chickenpox vaccine for free with the NHS.2
People with weakened immune systems should avoid getting the vaccine.4
If you are worried about you or your child getting chickenpox but don’t live with a vulnerable person, you can still get the chickenpox vaccine, but you will have to pay.2
Chicken pox vaccines are available at your local Well pharmacy.
Chickenpox is easily passed on from person-to-person. Your child can catch chickenpox just by being in the same room with someone with the virus.2
From the day before they get a rash to the day their rash has dried and crusted over (approximately 5 days), your child can pass on chickenpox.3
That is why your child must stay off school until their rash has dried.3
Your child should also stay away from people with low immunity, pregnant women and infants who are less than 4 weeks old.3
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- Chickenpox. Accessed August 15, 2023. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/chickenpox
- Chickenpox. nhs.uk. Published October 19, 2017. Accessed August 8, 2023. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chickenpox/
- Scenario: Child or adult | Management | Chickenpox | CKS | NICE. Accessed August 15, 2023. https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/chickenpox/management/child-or-adult/
- Who should have the chickenpox vaccine? nhs.uk. Published July 31, 2019. Accessed August 17, 2023. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/when-is-chickenpox-vaccine-needed
Published: September 2023
Next review: September 2026
Reviewed by: Mital Thakrar