Chickenpox (Varicella) (cont.)
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.
In this Article
- 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
Can chickenpox be prevented with a vaccine?
Most people develop lifetime immunity to chickenpox after the first occurrence and never experience it again. But the virus can sometimes resurface later in life as shingles (zoster). The current aim in the U.S. and many other countries is to achieve universal (or nearly universal) immunization of children with the chickenpox vaccine. The vaccination requires only two shots. The first vaccination is given at about 1 year of age, and the second (booster) is given at 4 years of age. If an older person has not had chickenpox, the shot may be given at any time. There have been few significant adverse reactions to the chickenpox vaccine. All children, except those with a compromised immune system, should have the vaccination. Vaccination has been associated with a 90% decrease in the incidence of chickenpox and significantly lower complication rates in those who do develop the symptoms.
- Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus which also causes shingles.
- Chickenpox is highly contagious and spreads by contact with someone with chickenpox.
- Fever, malaise, and a rash (red spots, blisters, and crusted lesions) are all symptoms and signs of chickenpox.
- Treatment for chickenpox is basically supportive.
- Although usually self-limited, chickenpox can also cause more serious complications, including pneumonia, encephalitis, and secondary skin infections.
- The chickenpox vaccine has resulted in a decrease in chickenpox incidence by 90% in the United States.
Marin, M., H.C. Meissner, and J.F. Seward. "Varicella Prevention in the United States: A Review of Successes and Challenges." Pediatrics 122.3 Sept. 1, 2008: e744-e751.
Last Editorial Review: 12/21/2010
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