Is this your child's symptom?

  • A rash all over the body caused by the chickenpox virus.
  • The chickenpox rash starts as small red bumps. The bumps change to blisters or pimples. The bumps change to open sores, and finally they scab over.
  • A doctor has told you that your child has chickenpox.
  • Or your child had close contact with another person who has it (or shingles). The contact should be 10-21 days earlier.

Next Steps


Symptoms of Chickenpox

  • Chickenpox starts with some small water blisters or pimples on the head and trunk.
  • Chickenpox progress within 24 hours through the next 5 stages:
    1. Small red bumps
    2. Thin-walled water blisters
    3. Cloudy blisters
    4. Open sores, and finally
    5. Dry brown crusts.
  • Rash is all over the body. Most often, starts on the head and back.
  • Repeated crops of new chickenpox keep appearing for 4 to 5 days. Therefore, all 5 stages are present at same time.
  • Sores (ulcers) can also occur in the mouth, on eyelids, and on genitals.
  • Fever is most often present. The more the rash, the higher the fever.
  • Known contact to a child with chickenpox or shingles 10 - 21 days earlier
  • Main related problems: skin infections from scratching.

Cause of Chickenpox

  • Chickenpox is caused by a virus. It is called Varicella.
  • Chickenpox can be prevented by getting this vaccine against this virus.

Care Advice for Chickenpox


  1. What You Should Know About Chickenpox:
    • Chickenpox is caused by the varicella virus.
    • It's now uncommon because of the chickenpox vaccine.
    • Your job is to keep your child comfortable and to limit the itching.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Cool Baths for Itching:
    • For itching, give cool or lukewarm baths for 10 minutes as often as needed.
    • Caution: avoid any chill.
    • Can add baking soda 2 ounces (60 mL) per tub.
    • Baths don't spread the chickenpox.
    • Do not use soaps. Reason: soaps cause dry skin and make the itch worse.
  3. Calamine Lotion for Itching:
    • Put calamine lotion on the chickenpox that itch the most.
    • You can also use an ice cube on the itchy spots for 10 minutes.
    • Don't use any lotion containing Benadryl in it. Reason: it can be absorbed across the skin. This can cause side effects in kids.
  4. Allergy Medicine for Itching:
    • If itching becomes severe or interferes with sleep, give Benadryl by mouth.
  5. Try Not to Scratch:
    • Try not to let your child pick and scratch at the sores. This can lead to infected sores.
    • Trim fingernails.
    • Wash hands often with soap.
  6. Fever Medicine:
    • Give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) for fever above 102° F (39° C).
    • Never use aspirin. Reason: risk of Reye syndrome.
    • Also, don't use ibuprofen products (such as Advil). Reason: may increase risk of bad strep skin infections.
  7. Fluids and Soft Diet:
    • The mouth and throat ulcers are painful. Try to get your child to drink adequate fluids.
    • Goal: keep your child well hydrated.
    • Cold drinks, milk shakes, popsicles, slushes, and sherbet are good choices.
    • Solids. Offer a soft diet. Also, avoid foods that need much chewing. Avoid citrus, salty, or spicy foods. Note: fluid intake is more important than eating any solids.
    • For babies, you may need to stop the bottle. Give fluids by cup, spoon or syringe instead. Reason: the nipple can increase the pain.
  8. Liquid Antacid for Mouth Pain (Age 1 Year and Older):
    • For mouth pain, use a liquid antacid (such as Mylanta or the store brand). Give 4 times per day as needed. After meals often is a good time.
    • Age 1 to 6 years. Put a few drops in the mouth. Can also put it on with a cotton swab.
    • Age over 6 years. Use 1 teaspoon (5 mL) as a mouth wash. Keep it on the ulcers as long as possible. Then can spit it out or swallow it.
    • Caution: do not use regular mouth washes, because they sting.
  9. Ointment For Pain With Passing Urine:
    • For girls with painful genital ulcers, use petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline).
    • Put on the sores as needed.
    • For males with painful pox on the tip of the penis, this also works.
  10. Return to School:
    • Your child can go back to school after all the sores have crusted over.
    • Most often, this is day 6 or 7 of the rash.
  11. What to Expect:
    • Expect new chickenpox every day for 4 or 5 days.
    • Most children get 400 to 500 chickenpox.
    • They get less pox if they've had the vaccine.
  12. Prevent the Spread of Chickenpox in the Office:
    • If your child needs to be seen, call first to the office.
    • Try to bring another adult. Have one adult enter the office first for instructions.
    • For nonurgent problems, the doctor may do an exam in the car.
  13. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Chickenpox look infected (draining pus, scabs become larger)
    • Gets any new chickenpox after day 6
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse
And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

When to see a Doctor

Call 911 Now
  • Not moving or too weak to stand
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency
Go to ER Now
  • Stiff neck (can't touch chin to the chest)
  • Hard to wake up or confused when awake
Call Doctor or Seek Care Now
  • Bright red skin or red streak
  • Very painful swelling or very swollen face
  • New red rash in addition to chickenpox rash
  • Walking is not steady
  • Trouble breathing
  • Bleeding into the chickenpox
  • Fever over 104° F (40° C)
  • Age less than 1 month old
  • Vomits 3 or more times
  • Eye pain or constant blinking
  • Took a steroid medicine within past 2 weeks
  • Weak immune system. Examples are: sickle cell disease, HIV, cancer, organ transplant, taking oral steroids.
  • Chronic skin disease (such as eczema)
  • Chronic lung disease (such as cystic fibrosis)
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent
Contact Doctor Within 24 Hours
  • Age less than 1 year old
  • Teen 13 years or older has chickenpox
  • Been near to person with chickenpox or shingles in last 5 days. Also, healthy person who never had a chickenpox vaccine.
  • One lymph node gets larger and more tender
  • Fever lasts more than 4 days
  • Fever returns after being gone more than 24 hours
  • Scab or sore drains yellow pus
  • One sore gets much larger in size than the others
  • Gets new chickenpox after day 6
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent
Contact Doctor During Office Hours
  • You have other questions or concerns
Self Care at Home
  • Chickenpox with no other problems

If NOT, try one of these:

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.