Health Information

Symptoms of Chickenpox

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Symptoms usually occur 10-21 days after contact with the chickenpox virus. Initial symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • General feeling of discomfort
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cough

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.
  • New clusters form over 5-6 days.
  • After 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.
  • The rash usually develops on the skin above the waist, including the scalp. Exposed areas are often most 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.

Revision Information

  • Chickenpox. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/chickenpox.html . Updated May 2010. Accessed May 30, 2013.

  • Chickenpox (varicella). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/ . Updated April 25, 2013. Accessed May 30, 2013.