Chickenpox is a highly contagious childhood infection caused by the varicella zoster virus. The condition causes a very itchy, blistery rash and usually a fever. The chickenpox virus spreads through the air, such as when an infected person sneezes or coughs, and by direct contact. Chickenpox once was very common, but the number of those infected has significantly dropped since the development of a vaccine to prevent the infection. Being exposed to the chickenpox virus also raises your risk for a painful condition called shingles later in life. Follow the links below to find WebMD's comprehensive coverage about how chickenpox is contracted, what it looks like, how to treat it, and much more.
Young Childhood Immunizations
Learn more about childhood immunizations -- what shots your child should get and when -- from the experts at WebMD.
Chicken Pox: Contagiousness, Who Gets It, and How It Spreads
Chickenpox is caused by the contagious varicella virus and mainly affects children. It’s easy to spot because of its red, itchy rash, mild fever, and body aches.
Chicken Pox Treatment: Home Remedies and Medications
Chickenpox comes with pesky symptoms like fever and an itchy rash. But there are number of things you can do at home to help relieve your symptoms until the virus passes.
Chickenpox Prevention: How To Prevent Chickenpox From Spreading
Don't risk letting your child get chickenpox and learn about the best way to prevent your family from contracting the virus.
Slideshows & Images
Picture of the Chickenpox Rash
Varicella Chickenpox. Varicella Chickenpox is caused by a virus of the herpes group. The disease is highly contagious and is spread by droplet or direct contact. The incubation period for chickenpox ranges from 11 to 21 days. Prodromal symptoms consist of low-grade fever, headache, anorexia, and malaise. On the following day, the characteristic rash begins to appear. The lesions evolve from erythematous macules to form small papules. Quickly, a clear vesicle arises on this erythematous base. The classic lesion of chickenpox has been poetically described as a “dewdrop on a rose petal.” Over the next several days, the vesicles rupture and then crust. The rash begins on the chest and back and spreads centrifugally to involve the face, scalp, and the extremities. New lesions of chickenpox arise in crops over a period of several days.
Slideshow: Images of Childhood Skin Problems
Hives, ringworm, warts: just a few skin conditions often seen in babies and children. How can you recognize these common childhood conditions -- and is home treatment possible?
Slideshow: Childhood Illnesses Every Parent Should Know
Croup, sore throat, glue ear and Kawasaki disease are among child illnesses parents must know. BootsWebMD has symptoms, pictures, and advice for when to seek medical advice.
Slideshow: Shingles Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
Caused by the same virus behind chickenpox, shingles is a painful nerve root infection resulting in a skin rash. What does the shingles rash looks like? Who’s at risk? And who needs the shingles vaccine? Get your questions answered here.