Chickenpox might seem like a normal part of
growing up, but it doesn't have to be.
Scroll down for more info

What is chickenpox?Ask the expert

Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella zoster virus that enters through the respiratory tract and conjunctiva.

How do you get chickenpox?

When an infected person...
two babies spreading the disease by coughing and sneezing
Through close contact with open blisters
children catching chickenpox by other infected children.children catching chickenpox by touching spots from other infected children
From a mother to an unborn child via the placenta
pregnant women giving chickenpox to their child via placenta
unborn child catching chickenpox in the placenta of his infected mother to be
People are most infectious 1-2 days before the rash appears and until all blisters have formed scabs.
When exposed to an infected person, 9 out of 10 people will catch chickenpox.

What are the symptoms of chickenpox?Ask the expert

Check if it's chickenpox:

red spot spread everywhere on the body It starts with red spots. They can appear anywhere on the body.
red spot filling with liquid. red spot bubbling up on all the body The spots fill with fluid. The blisters may burst. They might spread or stay in a small area.
red spot scab over. scrubbing of red spot The spots scab over. More blisters might appear while others scab over.

Initial Symptoms:

child with fever and a thermometer Mild to severe fever = high temperature (fever) of 380 C (100.40 F) or over
child coughing and having a sore throat Cough and sore throat
child feeling dizzy, funny, tired Malaise = feeling sick; feeling tired and generally unwell
a child not willing to eat Loss of appetite

14-16 days Time from infection to symptoms appearing.

Dos and Don'ts when my child has chickenpoxAsk the expert

Do Don't
  • Drink plenty of fluid (try ice lollies if your child isn't drinking) to avoid dehydration
  • Be around pregnant women, newborn babies and people with a weakened immune system, as it can be dangerous for them
  • Put socks on your child's hands at night to stop scratching
  • Use ibuprofen unless advised to do so by your doctor, as it may cause serious skin infections
  • Cut your child's nails
  • Give aspirin to children under 16
  • Bathe in cool water and pat the skin dry (don't rub)
  • Dress in loose clothes
  • Check with your airline if you're going on holiday – many airlines won't allow you to fly with chickenpox

For any medication to help with discomfort and pain, please check with your GP or Pharmacist for advice.

For any concern about your child's symptoms, please seek medical advice from your GP or Pharmacist.

Who is at risk of chickenpox?Ask the expert

Unless you have contracted or been vaccinated against the disease, almost everyone is susceptible to chickenpox. However, it can have a more serious impact for certain people:
chickenpox can be more serious for babies less than 1 year oldBABIES
chickenpox can be more serious for people over 15 years of ageADULTS AND ADOLESCENTS
chickenpox can be more serious for pregnant womenPREGNANT
chickenpox can be more serious for people with a weakened immune systemINDIVIDUALS WITH A

What is the impact of chickenpox?

In England & Wales
670,000 CASES
are estimated every year
It is generally a mild illness, leaving sufferers itchy, irritable and upset.
However, in some instances it can be associated with serious complications:
a child with additional spots everywhere due to super-infection and scarring Bacterial super infections and severe scarring
child with is respiratory tract severally infected due to pneumonia and bronchitis Pneumonia and bronchitis
child with a earing infection feeling dizzy and tired and having his ear buzzing Ear infections
children suffering from neurological disorders Neurological disorders
Occasionally chickenpox can be fatal. The majority of deaths occur in previously healthy individuals.
children dying from chickenpox
Although underlying medical conditions, often immune suppression, can contribute to a fatal outcome in some cases.
Chickenpox can lead to GP visits and Hospitalisations
chickenpox causes money, stress due to the hospitalisation process and day to take off work to go
it also causes on average 6.6 days off school/childcare

If you are concerned about your child's chickenpox symptoms, please seek medical advice from your GP or Pharmacist.

Parents view...

Chickenpox is generally a mild illness, leaving sufferers itchy, irritable and upset. However in some instances it can cause stress, scarring and potentially serious complications that may lead to hospitalisation, and in very rare cases, even death. Please watch Angie's story to learn more.

Angie video

How can I avoid my child catching chickenpox?Ask the expert

Should you develop the disease, you are likely to be immune to future chickenpox infections.
If you, or someone in your household is infected, prevent the spread of the disease by:
bus school crossed out; work briefcase crossed out. Keeping the infected person away from nursery, school or work
no contact with other children, no visit to your frind. Hand crossed out to illustrate that the child need to be keep off schoolcare or nursery Avoiding contact with ”at-risk“ groups
hand holding a tissue to illustrate that all surfaces need to be cleaned Wiping surfaces with a sterilising solution
washing their hands under a lavatory Regularly washing infected clothes or bedding

Vaccination helps protect against chickenpox

9 in 10
children are protected against chickenpox after a 2-dose vaccination course

Find out if you or your child
could be vaccinated against

Select the date of birth here
Not recommended

GPs or Pharmacists will review eligibility at consultation.

National providers of private chickenpox vaccinations
Boots Pharmacy -
Superdrug Health Clinics -
  • The criteria for inclusion here as a national provider is offering a chickenpox vaccination service in over 50 stores across the UK.
  • For providers who meet these criteria and would like to be added to the list please contact us on

Find nearest private vaccination service provider

Ask the expert

More information

For further information on chickenpox, please refer to:

NHS advice on chickenpox including dos and don'ts if infected:

NHS advice on chickenpox vaccination:

Next steps

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All rights reserved. GlaxoSmithKline plc. Registered in England and Wales No. 3888792.
Registered office: 980 Great West Road, Brentford, Middlesex, TW8 9GS, United Kingdom.
Date of Preparation: June 2019
Contentlab Code: NP-GB-GVX-WCNT-190011