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Health Information For Kids
Chickenpox is caused by a virus called varicella zoster. People who get the virus have:
They also might get a runny nose, cough, and stomachache.
Thanks to the chickenpox vaccine, kids don’t get chickenpox as much as they once did.
Chickenpox may start out seeming like a cold: You might have a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and a cough.
But 1 to 2 days later, the rash begins, often in bunches of spots on the chest and face. From there it can spread out quickly over the entire body — sometimes the rash is even in a person’s ears and mouth.
You’ve probably heard that chickenpox is itchy. It’s true! The chickenpox blisters are small and sit on an area of red skin that can be anywhere from the size of a pencil eraser to the size of a dime.
At first, the rash looks like pinkish dots that quickly develop a small blister on top (a blister is a bump on your skin that fills up with fluid). After about 24 to 48 hours, the fluid in the blisters gets cloudy and the blisters begin to crust over.
Chickenpox blisters show up in waves. So after some begin to crust over, a new group of spots might appear. It usually takes 10–14 days for all the blisters to be scabbed over and then you are no longer contagious.
Chickenpox is contagious, meaning that somebody who has it can easily spread it to someone else. A person with chickenpox is most contagious during the first 2 to 5 days of being sick. That’s usually about 1 to 2 days before the rash shows up. So you could be spreading around chickenpox without even knowing it!
Someone with chickenpox can pass it to others by coughing or sneezing, when tiny drops come out of the mouth and nose. These drops are full of the chickenpox virus. It’s easy for others to breathe in these drops or get them on their hands. Before you know it, the chickenpox virus has infected someone new.
If you are that unlucky person, how do you keep your chickenpox from driving you crazy? They itch, but you shouldn’t scratch them. Scratching the blisters can tear your skin and leave scars. Scratching also can let germs in, and the blisters could get infected.
These tips can help you feel less itchy:
to your bath water can help relieve the itching.
If your fever goes higher and an area of your skin gets really red, warm, and painful, tell an adult right away. You’ll need to see a doctor because you could have an infection.
While you have the chickenpox, a pain reliever like
might help you feel better, but let your parents help you with this. Medicines and creams that may stop the itch can also be helpful.
Do not take aspirin because it can cause a rare but serious illness in kids called Reye syndrome.
It doesn’t usually happen, but let your parents know if you feel especially bad. Sometimes, chickenpox leads to other, more serious illnesses.
Most kids don’t have any major problems and get better in a week or two. And when all the blisters have scabs, you’re not contagious anymore and you can go back to school! In a few days, the scabs will fall off. A kid who gets chickenpox is unlikely to ever get it again.
Not long ago, millions of people got chickenpox each year in the United States. But now that kids get the vaccine, fewer and fewer people get chickenpox.
Kids get the chickenpox vaccine as two shots:
But kids can get vaccinated when they’re older too. Ask your mom or dad if you’ve had your shots. You’ll be glad that you did if chickenpox starts making its way around your school!
Chickenpox can make you itch like crazy. Find out why in this article for kids.
If you’re old enough to read this, you’ve probably had most of your shots. But even bigger kids may need a shot once in a while. Find out more about them in this article for kids.
You may have had a cold sore, but what are they exactly? Find out in this article for kids.
You know they can hurt you, but what are these invisible creatures? Find out in this article for kids.
Shingles is the same virus as the one that gives people chickenpox. It can cause sores or blisters on the body and is very painful.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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