Chickenpox (varicella), a viral illness characterized by a very itchy red rash, is one of the most common infectious diseases of childhood. It is usually mild in children, but adults run the risk of serious complications, such as bacterial pneumonia.
People who have had chickenpox almost always develop lifetime immunity (meaning you can't get it again). However, the virus remains dormant in the body, and it can reactivate later in life and cause shingles.
Because the chickenpox virus can pass from...
You are pregnant and have been exposed to chickenpox.
You or your child has chickenpox and any of the following:
A fever that lasts
longer than 24 hours
Severe itching that cannot be relieved by home
Chickenpox rash on the eyeball
A rash that
lasts longer than 2 weeks
If you are a teen or adult, are pregnant, or have a weak immune system, it's important to see your doctor as soon as you think you've been exposed to the chickenpox virus. Your doctor may want to give you a medicine that helps protect you from the virus.
A healthy child with chickenpox symptoms may not need to visit a doctor. You may be able to describe your child's symptoms to the doctor over the phone. Then your child won't have to leave the house and risk spreading the virus to others. But it is important to check with your doctor to find out if he or she wants to see your child.
If you go to a doctor's office, ask if you need to
take any precautions when you arrive to avoid spreading the infection. For
example, office staff may take you directly to an exam room when you arrive, rather than have you wait in the lobby.
Who to see
following health professionals can diagnose and treat chickenpox: