Chickenpox is a rash illness caused by a virus called varicella zoster. People who get chickenpox often develop a rash of spots that look like blisters all over their bodies.
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The blisters are small and sit on an area of red skin that can be anywhere from the size of a pencil eraser to the size of a dime. Chickenpox occurs most often during the winter and spring. Once you have had chicken pox, you are usually immune to it. This disease usually occurs in children but you have never had the disease, you can get it at any age.

It starts out with symptoms of a common cold: You might have a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and a cough. But 1 to 2 days later, the rash begins, often in bunches of spots on the chest and face. From there it can spread out quickly over the entire body, sometimes the rash is even in a person’s ears and mouth. The number of pox is different for everyone. Some people get just a few while others are covered from head to toe.

Chickenpox is contagious. It can be spread by direct person-to-person contact, droplet or airborne spread of vesicle fluid or secretions of the respiratory tract, such as coughing and sneezing. Someone who has chickenpox is most contagious during the first 2 to 5 days of being sick. That’s usually about 1 to 2 days before the rash shows up. The time between exposure to the virus and appearance of symptoms is between 10 and 20 days. To avoid spreading the illness, stay in your room until all the rash has dried up. You may have visitors who have had chicken pox in the past. Avoid friends who have not had the disease. Do not share eating utensils or food. Place all paper products that you handle (including tissues) in a plastic bag for disposal.

Other sources of information for these topics.

MedlinePlus: Chickenpox
The National Institute of Health provides this directory of links to various sites and articles about chickenpox.

Chickenpox is a virus that causes red, itchy bumps. Find out more in this article for kids.

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