Chickenpox is an infectious disease that results in blister-like rashes, itching, tiredness, and fever. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. In most cases, the condition can be treated at home through close monitoring of the symptoms. The varicella vaccine is widely available for the prevention of this illness.
Chickenpox is an infectious disease caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV), a virus that is part of the herpes virus family. The illness results in a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever.
Before the introduction of the varicella vaccine in 1995, approximately 4 million cases of chickenpox were reported annually, including 4,000 to 9,000 hospitalizations and 100 deaths. Since the introduction of the vaccine, the number of cases has dropped dramatically.
Symptoms of chickenpox can begin with 1 to 2 days of low-grade fever and tiredness. These early symptoms do not always occur before the chickenpox rash develops.
Early symptoms are followed by itchy blisters that first appear on the trunk, face, and scalp. These blisters can spread over the entire body, causing between 250 and 500 itchy blisters. The chickenpox rash can appear in three or more successive waves. Eventually, the blisters crust over.
(Click Symptoms of Chickenpox for more information.)
In most cases, chickenpox can be treated at home. Home treatment involves relieving symptoms as the body fights the virus. It is important to regularly look at the skin and to make sure that the blisters are not becoming infected. It is also important to monitor other symptoms, such as fever.
If a person experiences more serious symptoms of chickenpox, a visit to the doctor may be necessary. Some of these more serious symptoms include:
(Click Treatment for Chickenpox for more information.)