Chickenpox is common and mostly affects children, although you can get it at any age. It usually gets better by itself within a week without needing to see a GP.
Check if it’s chickenpox
Things you can do yourself
Speak to a GP if:
- you’re not sure it’s chickenpox
- the skin around the blisters is red, hot or painful (signs of infection)
- your child is dehydrated
- you’re concerned about your child or they get worse
Tell the receptionist you think it’s chickenpox before going in. They may recommend a special appointment time if other patients are at risk.
It’s easy to catch chickenpox
You can catch chickenpox by being in the same room as someone with it.
It’s also spread by touching clothes or bedding that has fluid from the blisters on it.
How long chickenpox is infectious for
Chickenpox is infectious from 2 days before the spots appear to until they have crusted over, usually 5 days after they first appeared.
How soon you get symptoms after coming into contact with chickenpox
It takes 1 to 3 weeks from the time you were exposed to chickenpox for the spots to start appearing.
Chickenpox in pregnancy
It’s rare to get chickenpox when you’re pregnant, and the chance of it causing complications is low.
If you do get chickenpox when you’re pregnant, there’s a small risk of your baby being very ill when it’s born.
Speak to your GP if you haven’t had chickenpox and have been near someone with it.
The chickenpox vaccine
You can get the chickenpox vaccine on the NHS if there’s a risk of harming someone with a weakened immune system.
For example, a child could be vaccinated if one of their parents was having chemotherapy.
You can pay for the vaccine at some private clinics or travel clinics. It costs between £120 and £200.
Shingles and chickenpox
You can’t catch shingles from someone with chickenpox. You can catch chickenpox from someone with shingles if you haven’t had chickenpox before.
When you get chickenpox, the virus stays in your body. It can be triggered again if your immune system is low and cause shingles.
This can be because of stress, certain conditions, or treatments like chemotherapy.