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Symptoms usually occur 10-21 days after contact with the chickenpox virus. Initial symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • General feeling of discomfort
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cough
  • Stomach ache

Within 1-2 days after the initial symptoms, a rash develops. Characteristics of the rash include:

  • The rash usually develops on the skin above the waist, including the scalp. Exposed areas are often most affected.
  • The rash may sometimes appear on the inside of the eyelids, in the mouth, nose, throat, upper airway, voice box, rectum, or vagina.
  • At first, the rash consists of small, flat, red spots.
  • The spots become raised and form clusters of round, itchy, fluid-filled blisters on a red base.
  • The blisters usually burst to form sores which finally crusts and scabs over before healing.
  • New clusters form over 5-6 days, so for awhile there will be a variety of spots visible at the same time.
  • In healthy children, the rash usually crusts over by day 6-7. The crusts are gone within three weeks, usually without scarring. Note: Some people who are immunocompromised may have more severe cases that last longer.

References:

Chickenpox. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/chickenpox.html. Updated May 2010. Accessed February 29, 2016.

Chickenpox. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116084/Chickenpox. Updated September 8, 2015. Accessed October 3, 2016.

Chickenpox (varicella). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox. Updated November 18, 2014. Accessed February 29, 2016.



Last reviewed February 2016 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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