Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Vaccines Health Center

Font Size

Chickenpox (Varicella) - Medications

Medicines for chickenpox can:

  • Prevent chickenpox by making you immune to it.
  • Help make chickenpox less severe after you are exposed or have symptoms.
  • Help relieve chickenpox itch, pain, and fever.

If you (or your child) are not immune to chickenpox and have been exposed to the virus, call your doctor. The right medicine depends on your health, age, how long it's been since you were exposed to the virus, and your symptoms.

Recommended Related to Adult Vaccines

4 Lifesaving Vaccines Adults Need

Kids aren't the only ones who should go in for their immunizations. We grown-ups require vaccines and booster shots too, but many of us aren't getting them. In fact, about 50,000 American adults die every year from vaccine-preventable diseases, says the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases — primarily the flu. Read on to find out if you should go in for one of these vaccines now.1. Flu vaccine What it does: Prevents influenza, the highly contagious respiratory illness...

Read the 4 Lifesaving Vaccines Adults Need article > >

Vaccination to prevent chickenpox

To prevent chickenpox, most people can get the chickenpox vaccine(What is a PDF document?). To fully protect you, two doses are needed before you're exposed to the virus.

Some people can't get the chickenpox vaccine. They include women who are pregnant and people who have ever had a serious allergic reaction to gelatin or the drug neomycin.

Medicines to help reduce the severity of chickenpox

  • Chickenpox vaccine. If you are exposed to chickenpox and you get the vaccine within 3 days, you may not get sick, or your illness may be mild. If you can't get the shot within 3 days, getting it up to 5 days after exposure may still help.2
  • Immunoglobulins.Immunoglobulins (IG) help the body's immune system recognize and destroy harmful bacteria and viruses in the body, such as the varicella virus. People with long-term diseases or other health problems can get a shot of chickenpox IG soon after they are exposed to the virus to help them feel better sooner. Pregnant women or people who have certain immune system problems can also get a shot of IG to help prevent infections.
  • Antiviral medicine.Antiviral medicine, such as acyclovir, is usually used to treat adults and people who have weak immune systems. It's used after you start to have symptoms of chickenpox. Healthy children usually don't need this medicine when they have chickenpox. It isn't known whether antiviral medicines reduce a person's chances of having complications of chickenpox.

Medicines to relieve pain and discomfort

After you have symptoms of chickenpox, you can take over-the-counter medicines to help relieve discomfort. Check with your child's doctor before giving medicine to your child.

  • Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen (such as Advil) to control pain and fever. Follow the package instructions carefully. If you give medicine to your baby, follow your doctor's advice about what amount to give. People over age 20 also can take aspirin to reduce fever. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20, because of the risk of Reye syndrome.
  • Oral antihistamines to relieve itching, such as Benadryl or Vistaril. Talk to your doctor before using any antihistamine lotions or creams on yourself or your child. And check with your child's doctor before giving antihistamine pills to your child.
  • Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to you or your child if you get a skin infection from chickenpox blisters.
1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 15, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

woman receiving vaccine shot
ARTICLE
Syringes and graph illustration
TOOL
 
Ways To Stay Well When Traveling Abroad
SLIDESHOW
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
Slideshow
 
woman walking
Article
Vaccine Schedule Are Your Childs Shots Up To Date
Article
 
69x75 thumbnail early pregnancy 02
VIDEO
gloved hand holding syringe
Article
 
adult vaccine injection
ARTICLE
woman peeking under sheets
Tool
 
cold season and vitamin C
VIDEO
Adult Meningitis Vaccines What You Should Know
ARTICLE