Chickenpox is caused by a virus. It is infectious from one to two days before the rash starts, until all the blisters have crusted over (five to six days after the start of the rash). To prevent spreading the infection, keep children off nursery/school until all their spots have crusted over.
Your child will probably feel pretty miserable and irritable while they have it. They may have a fever for the first few days and the spots can be incredibly itchy.
Paracetamol can help relieve fever and calamine lotion or cooling gels help ease itching.
Chickenpox usually gets better on its own. However, some children can become more seriously ill and need to see a doctor.
Contact your GP straight away if:
Symptoms develop around 10 days after you are infected and can include:
After a few days, a red-brown spotty rash appears. Starting behind the ears it then spreads around the head and neck before spreading to the rest of the body. If there are no complications symptoms usually disappear within 7-10 days.
Contact your GP if you suspect that you or your child may have measles.
Help to make your child comfortable:
If your child is in pain or has a high temperature (fever), you can give them a mild painkiller, such as sugar-free paracetamol or ibuprofen (available over-the-counter in pharmacies) (see know the basics for advice on usage). Do not give aspirin to children under the age of 16.
Read more about Measles and immunisation
If you are pregnant and have had chickenpox in the past it is likely that you are immune to chickenpox. However please contact your GP or Midwife for advice.
Click here to read the measles leaflet