• Symptoms of Chickenpox

    Symptoms usually occur 10-21 days after contact with the chickenpox virus. Initial symptoms include:
    • Headache
    • Fever
    • General feeling of malaise
    • Loss of appetite
    Within 1-2 days after the initial symptoms, a rash develops. Characteristics of the rash include:
    • At first, the rash consists of small, flat, red spots.
    • The spots become raised and form clusters of round, itchy, fluid-filled blisters on a red base.
    • The blisters develop in clusters, with new clusters forming over 5-6 days.
    • Once the rash develops, there is usually a variety of spots visible: flat red areas, blisters with clear fluid, blisters with cloudy fluid, and open blisters. This variety helps doctors to be confident that the rash is due to chickenpox.
    • The rash usually develops on the skin above the waist, including the scalp. Exposed areas are often most significantly affected.
    • The rash may sometimes appear on the inside of the eyelids, in the mouth, nose, throat, upper airway, voice box, rectum, or vagina.
    • In healthy children, the rash usually crusts over by day 6-7. The crusts are gone within three weeks, usually without scarring. Note: Adults or patients who are immunocompromised may have more severe cases that last longer.


    The Merck Manual of Medical Information. 17th ed. Simon and Schuster, Inc.; 2000.

    National Centers for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod .

    National Immunization Program. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nip/default.htm .

    Revision Information

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