David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP
Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
- What is chickenpox? What causes chickenpox?
- How does chickenpox spread?
- What are chickenpox symptoms and signs?
- What are treatment options for chickenpox?
- What are the possible complications of chickenpox?
- Can chickenpox be prevented with a vaccine?
- Chickenpox At A Glance
- Take the Chickenpox Quiz!
- Childhood Skin Problems Slideshow
- View Images of Chickenpox (Varicella)
- Chickenpox FAQs
- Patient Comments: Chickenpox (Varicella) - Side Effects
- Patient Comments: Chickenpox - Adult Experience
What is chickenpox? What causes chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a common childhood skin disease caused by a viral infection. The virus involved is called the varicella-zoster virus. Today, chickenpox is less common in the United States due to universal vaccination with the varicella virus vaccine, though it still occurs in populations that are not routinely vaccinated. Varicella-zoster virus is often categorized with the other common so-called "viral exanthems" (viral rashes) such as measles (rubeola), German measles (rubella), fifth disease (parvovirus B19), mumps virus, and roseola (human herpesvirus 6), but these viruses are unrelated except for their tendency to cause rashes.
In unimmunized populations, most people contract chickenpox by age 15, the majority between ages 5 and 9, but all ages can contract it. Chickenpox is usually more severe in adults and very young infants than children. Winter and spring are the most common times of the year for chickenpox to occur.
How does chickenpox spread?
Chickenpox is very highly contagious. It is easily passed between members of families and school classmates through airborne particles, droplets in exhaled air, and fluid from the blisters or sores. It also can be transmitted indirectly by contact with articles of clothing and other items exposed to fresh drainage from open sores. Patients are contagious up to five days (more commonly, one to two days) before and five days after the date that their rash appears. When all of the sores have crusted over, the person is usually no longer contagious.
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