Chickenpox in babies and children | Pregnancy Birth and Baby beginning of content
What is chickenpox?
Chickenpox (also known as varicella) is generally a mild viral illness in children and babies that causes an itchy, red, blistering rash. Although common in children, the virus can affect anyone at any age. Chickenpox is closely related to shingles, and both conditions are caused by the varicella zoster virus.
Healthy children usually recover quickly and completely from chickenpox, but doctors do consider chickenpox serious since it can trigger other health issues.
What are the symptoms of chickenpox?
If your baby or child has chickenpox, they will have an itchy, red rash all over their body. The rash will turn into blisters with fluid inside which, over time, will pop and form a crusty surface. Your child may also feel generally unwell with a headache, sore throat or fever. An infected child is most likely to show symptoms 2 weeks after they catch the virus. These symptoms will continue for approximately 10 to 21 days.
Is chickenpox contagious?
Chickenpox is highly contagious and spreads quickly in places such as childcare facilities, playgrounds and at home. The virus can be spread in 2 ways:
Through contact with the fluid in an infected person’s chickenpox blisters.
Through the sneeze and cough droplets of an infected person which travel through the air.
An infected child is contagious for between 1 and 2 days before the rash appears until all of their blisters have scabbed over. This process may take 5 to 10 days.
Does my child need to see a doctor?
If you think your child has chickenpox, take them to see a doctor. Your doctor can usually diagnose chickenpox simply by looking at the rash. However, they can also test the fluid from your child’s blisters to confirm the presence of the varicella zoster virus. Your doctor will also tell you when your child is no longer contagious and when it is safe for them to go back to school and play with friends.
How can I reduce the chance my child will get chickenpox?
The best protection against chickenpox you can give your child is through immunisation. This will prevent most children from getting chickenpox. A minority of vaccinated children will still catch the virus, but they will have a much milder form and are less likely to have complications.
Immunisation will also help prevent your child from catching shingles when they get older.
Australian medical guidelines recommend that children between the ages of 12 months and 14 years have at least one dose of chickenpox vaccine, ideally at 18 months of age. A second dose at least 4 weeks later can provide extra protection against the virus.
Immunisation and vaccinations for your child
Immunisation is a simple, safe and effective way of protecting children against certain diseases. Discover more about childhood vaccinations.
What other precautions can I take?
Chickenpox is highly contagious and spreads quickly through households, schools and childcare centres, so it’s important to take care to limit the spread.
If your child has chickenpox, there are precautions you can take to reduce the chance of spread to other members of your family, as well as to classmates and friends. A child with chickenpox should stay at home from school or childcare until they are no longer infectious. Hand hygiene is important for all members of the household, and if they are old enough, children should be taught to cover their sneezes and coughs, placing tissues straight into the rubbish bin.
It is especially important to keep a contagious child away from pregnant women because during pregnancy, chickenpox can be serious for both the mother and the baby.
How should I care for my child at home?
In most cases, a baby or child with chickenpox won’t need any medicines. However, if they are feeling itchy or feverish, try these approaches to help to relieve pain or discomfort:
Sorbolene cream, or a similar soothing lotion, helps to relieve itchiness.
Bathing your child in lukewarm water with oatmeal or baking soda can also relieve itchiness.
Paracetamol may help to reduce a child’s fever.
Your child may feel weak and need to rest more than usual.
If your child is feeling unwell or has a more serious case of chickenpox speak with your child’s doctor for specific advice.
How serious is chickenpox?
While most children experience mild symptoms, some cases can result in complications or hospitalisation because of infection with the chickenpox virus. Every year, 800 babies and children under the age of 5 are admitted to hospital with serious cases of chickenpox.
Adults, adolescents and pregnant women are more likely to experience a serious case of chickenpox, and people with immune system disorders should take particular care to avoid exposure — especially if they are unvaccinated.
Serious complications of chickenpox include inflammation in and around the brain (cerebellitis, meningitis or encephalitis).
To locate a health service where you can have your child vaccinated, visit our Service Finder tool.
Are you pregnant or planning a pregnancy? Learn more about how chickenpox during pregnancy can affect you and your baby.
Australian Government Department of Health (Chickenpox (varicella)), DermNet NZ (Chickenpox), Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (Varicella and varicella vaccination), Australian Government Department of Health (Varicella (chickenpox))
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Last reviewed: March 2021
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Immunisation and vaccinations for your child
Chickenpox and pregnancy
Need more information?
Chickenpox in children and teenagers | Raising Children Network
Chickenpox appears as red spots that turn into blisters. It’s contagious but no longer common. See your GP if you think your child might have chickenpox.
Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website
Chickenpox - MyDr.com.au
Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by a viral infection. Most children with chickenpox develop an itchy rash that lasts for about 10 days.
Read more on myDr website
Chickenpox and pregnancy
Chickenpox in adults is a serious disease, especially in pregnant women. Find out how to protect yourself and what to do if you think you may have chickenpox.
Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website
Chickenpox | Sydney Children's Hospitals Network
Chickenpox is a viral illness
Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website
Chickenpox in adults - MyDr.
For those adults who didn't catch chickenpox in childhood, or who haven't been vaccinated, an attack of chickenpox can produce serious, sometimes lethal, complications.
Read more on myDr website
Chickenpox - Better Health Channel
Read more on Better Health Channel website
Shingles in children and teenagers | Raising Children Network
Shingles is a viral infection that appears as a rash. Children can get shingles, but it’s more common in adults. Children with shingles need to see a GP.
Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website
Varicella-zoster (chickenpox) vaccines for Australian children | NCIRS
Webinar video now available - Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine program reset: navigating safety, acceptance and uptakeRead the full article
Read more on National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) website
Rubella in babies and children
Find out more about the symptoms of rubella, when your child should see a doctor, how to care for a sick child at home, and how the disease spreads.
Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website
Chickenpox (varicella) is a viral disease caused by the varicella zoster virus.
Read more on WA Health website
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Chickenpox in babies: Pictures, symptoms, and treatments
Chickenpox can cause a range of symptoms in babies, including an itchy rash and changes in sleeping habits. The symptoms may be more severe than those in older children or adults because the immune system in babies is still developing.
Although chickenpox often clears up on its own, it can cause serious symptoms in babies, especially newborns. Therefore, unvaccinated babies should not be in close proximity to people with the virus.
The telltale sign of chickenpox is a crusty, itchy rash. The rash is red, and it usually starts on the face, neck, or chest before spreading to other areas of the body. The rash starts with fluid filled blisters, which crust over within 4–10 days.
If an infant scratches the blisters, they may ooze or become infected.
Some other signs and symptoms of chickenpox in babies include:
loss of appetite, including changes in breastfeeding habits
changes in sleep habits because the baby is itching or in pain
excessive crying or a lack of response to efforts to soothe the baby
fever, which can sometimes start before the rash
Newborns with chickenpox may not have a fever because they have a less developed immune system, and, therefore, their body does not always respond to infection by raising its temperature.
Chickenpox does not usually cause stomach problems, such as diarrhea, or respiratory symptoms, such as a stuffy nose or congestion. Infants with these symptoms may have a different virus.
Parents and caregivers should consult a doctor if a baby under 3 months of age shows signs of chickenpox or develops a fever.
In most children, chickenpox symptoms clear up on their own within about a week. Treatment focuses instead on managing symptoms. The following home remedies may provide relief:
Giving the baby a warm bath with uncooked oatmeal.
Applying calamine lotion to itchy spots.
Dressing the baby in loose fitting clothes that do not irritate blisters. Some babies may be more comfortable in just a diaper.
Preventing babies from scratching the blisters. Newborn mittens can help.
Keeping the baby’s nails clean and short to reduce the risk of infection from scratching the blisters.
Asking a doctor about over-the-counter medication for fever and pain. Do not give these drugs to a child below the age of 2 years without first consulting a doctor. Avoid medications containing aspirin. There is some concern that the use of ibuprofen during chickenpox infection may cause serious skin infections in some babies, so ask a doctor about alternative medications.
If symptoms are very severe, or a baby has a higher risk of complications from chickenpox, a doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication. These drugs can help the baby’s body fight the infection and may reduce the severity and duration of symptoms.
In some cases, a doctor may recommend other treatments to address chickenpox complications. For example, a baby with dehydration from a high fever and inadequate liquid intake might need to receive intravenous fluids in a hospital.
The varicella-zoster virus causes chickenpox. Once a person gets the virus, they are typically immune to future infections.
Very rarely, a person with a weakened immune system may get a second infection. It is also possible for the virus to reactivate, but in most cases, reactivation of the virus causes shingles rather than chickenpox.
Is it contagious?
Share on PinterestChickenpox is highly contagious in people who have active infections.
Chickenpox lives in the respiratory tract and eyes. It is highly contagious in people who have active infections and in cases of recent exposure. A person who is not immune can get chickenpox if they come into contact with mucus, saliva, or other bodily fluids from a person with the infection.
For this reason, people with chickenpox should avoid contact with babies under the age of 1 year or older children whom healthcare professionals have not immunized against chickenpox.
People living in close quarters are particularly vulnerable, as are unvaccinated children in preschools and daycare centers. A pregnant woman with chickenpox can also transmit the virus to her newborn.
After a person who is susceptible to chickenpox comes into contact with the virus, the virus lives in their body for 10–21 days before they get sick and more obvious symptoms show. People with weak immune systems, such as newborns and those living with HIV, may have slightly longer incubation periods.
Most babies recover from chickenpox within a week, and some may even improve within a few days. However, those with very severe infections may require 2 weeks or longer to return to health.
Most people, even babies, heal from chickenpox without additional treatment. Complications are rare, but when they do occur, they can become serious. Possible complications include:
secondary skin infections, especially if a baby picks at a blister
damage to organs, such as the liver
low blood platelet count
complications from a fever, such as dehydration or seizures
brain inflammation, called encephalitis
Parents and caregivers should call a doctor about chickenpox in a baby if:
the baby is less than 1 year old
the baby has a condition that weakens the immune system
chickenpox does not disappear within a week
the infection seems very serious, or the baby is inconsolable
a fever lasts longer than 4 days or rises above 102ºF
the rash becomes swollen, red, warm, or tender
Women who develop chickenpox when pregnant should also speak to a doctor.
It is important to go to the emergency room if the baby:
has trouble moving or seems confused
has a severe cough or is experiencing difficulty breathing
has a rash that bruises or bleeds
has a stiff neck or has trouble moving their head
is very sick, and a doctor or medical professional is not available to contact
Share on PinterestA parent or caregiver can discuss vaccination with a doctor.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend vaccinating babies at both 12–15 months and 4–6 years of age. A parent or caregiver who misses this vaccine schedule can still catch up and vaccinate their child.
Vaccinations can stop the spread of chickenpox and virtually eliminate the child’s risk of developing the disease. If a vaccinated child does get chickenpox, which is very uncommon, the infection is often less severe.
Some other strategies to prevent chickenpox in babies include washing children’s hands before they eat and after they play, especially if they have been playing with other children, and avoiding people with recent exposure to chickenpox.
Women who wish to try getting pregnant can ask a doctor about getting their vaccines beforehand. Healthcare professionals cannot give the chickenpox vaccine during pregnancy.
For most babies, chickenpox is mild and clears up on its own. However, it is important to be aware that chickenpox in babies is occasionally dangerous and can cause severe symptoms.
Vaccination remains the best strategy for reducing the risk of chickenpox in babies and young children. As babies under the age of 1 year do not receive a vaccine against chickenpox, the safest practice is for everyone else around them to get the vaccine. Parents and caregivers can discuss prevention and safety strategies with a healthcare professional.
If a person has concerns about a baby with chickenpox, they should contact a doctor or pediatrician for advice.
Chickenpox in a child | Treatment and prevention of chickenpox in a child
Chickenpox is one of the most common viral diseases in children. Most often occurs in preschool and primary school age, but sometimes in infants. Is it true that chickenpox in children under the age of passes with complications? And how to deal with the disease?
Thursday, April 25th, 2019
Chickenpox is reported to most commonly affect children between 6 months and 10 years of age. The course of the disease in infants is quite severe and requires careful care from the parents, as well as the obligatory seeking help from a doctor. What symptoms indicate the appearance of chickenpox in an infant?
Symptoms of chickenpox
General signs of the onset of the disease:
Sudden rise in temperature
The main symptom of chicken pox is a profuse rash in the form of small blisters with liquid on the skin and mucous membranes. Their appearance is accompanied by itching, which brings babies severe discomfort.
The rash appears on the body, head (both in the scalp and on the face), in the mouth, on the genitals.
How to treat chickenpox in young children
There is no cure for the disease, so all adult interventions are aimed at minimizing the child's symptoms. For example, a newborn may scratch the rash, so parents should ensure that the wounds do not become infected. It is also important to combat itching so that the baby can sleep peacefully. Usually, the skin is treated with antiseptics: an aqueous solution of potassium permanganate, brilliant green or fukrotsin or Castellani liquid (but by no means alcohol solutions). However, not too often - otherwise it can lead to irritation and even scarring.
Do not forget to cut your baby's nails, change bed and underwear more often.
Give your baby plenty of fluids. You may also need antipyretics, antihistamines for itching (only as prescribed by a doctor).
Never give your child aspirin - it can cause liver problems.
There are no special tablets for chickenpox. Antiseptics do not act on the virus, and antiviral drugs are usually not prescribed. But if the disease is especially difficult - the temperature does not drop for a long time, the bubbles fester - call an ambulance. But even if this does not happen, do not take risks, but immediately consult a doctor to develop a treatment plan.
Peculiarities of chickenpox in children under one year old
Chickenpox in infants is manifested by the same symptoms as in older children, but only in a particularly complex form, which can cause serious damage to the body. For example, negatively affecting the development of internal organs (joints, heart, lungs and kidneys may suffer) and the nervous system of the child. Therefore, the treatment of infants should always be under the supervision of a specialist.
Chickenpox in children under one year old is often accompanied by fever, the appearance of non-healing wounds, convulsions and even loss of consciousness.
Excellent protection for babies - mother's immunity if a woman has had chickenpox. If not, it is advisable to get vaccinated against chickenpox before pregnancy. Breastfeeding, which boosts immunity, will also help protect your baby.
See also: Caring for the health of the child throughout life
Even if the little one gets sick while on breastfeeding, he will endure chickenpox more easily.
Get sick or get vaccinated?
Opinions are divided: some believe that it is better to get vaccinated as soon as the baby is 1 year old. Others insist that the little one get chickenpox as early as possible and thus receive immunity for life.
But still, many doctors advise children to be vaccinated. The disease is not always easy, especially in infants. Then chickenpox can cause severe complications, such as inflammation of the brain, the appearance of shingles, a secondary infection. Or, scars may simply remain on the skin. And, of course, it is still better for children with chronic diseases to avoid infection with any viruses.
See also: Child's brain development: from 0 to 3 years
Once again, if you have chickenpox in children under one year old, immediately contact a pediatrician (and in case of serious complications, call an ambulance). Do not self-medicate, because there is nothing more valuable than the health of the child.
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Many people consider chickenpox, sometimes simply referred to as "chickenpox", to be a fairly mild childhood illness. Caused by the herpes virus herpeszoster, it is fairly mild in children between the ages of 5 and 10, but can have serious complications if neglected. At the same time, the disease is quite difficult to tolerate newborn babies and adults. In old age, this virus may not be expressed in a habitual skin rash like with chickenpox, but develop into shingles or herpes.
Having suffered chicken pox, the human body develops lifelong immunity to this disease, however, the person remains a carrier of the virus, which, with the development of favorable conditions, can reassert itself over time.
Chickenpox spreads only through direct contact with the patient. Although there is an opinion that you can get infected using cutlery or things of an infected person, this is not so. The herpeszoster virus is very susceptible to the environment and dies within minutes.
The incubation period can last up to 3 weeks. During this time, the disease does not manifest itself in any way, but it is during this period that the patient is most dangerous to others. Especially a few days before the rash appears. By the end of the third week, a slight redness may appear on the baby's skin, quickly developing into a nodule, and then into a bubble filled with a cloudy liquid. Often, the first spots can appear on the scalp under the hair or on the face.
A few hours later, the number of such spots - papules, increases dramatically, especially on the abdomen in the navel. The liquid that fills them contains a high concentration of the herpeszoster virus, so they should never be pierced or squeezed out. To avoid re-infection or the development of a subcutaneous infection, they must be lubricated with any antiseptic and carefully monitored so that the baby does not scratch them. Otherwise, damage to the papules can lead to the development of a disease such as purulent dermatitis.
In addition to the rash, after a few days, secondary symptoms of intoxication of the body may develop:
nausea and indigestion;
loss of appetite and general weakness;
The child may become more cranky and tired quickly, which is why bed rest is recommended.
There is no direct cure for chickenpox. Doctors and pediatricians in the bulk prescribe symptomatic treatment. Since antibiotics are useless in this case, since viruses, unlike bacteria, do not react to them, it is necessary to let the baby's body overcome this disease on its own. Sometimes antipyretics are prescribed to reduce the temperature, and antihistamines to reduce itching. Many doctors even question the wisdom of vaccinations, as they do not provide lifelong immunity and can usually only delay the chance of getting sick.
Director General of JSC Insurance Company SOGAZ-Med Dmitry Tolstov notes: “Medical insurance organizations help people learn about their rights in the CHI system and use them. We believe that improving the legal literacy of the insured will lead to an improvement in the quality of medical care and will allow the entire system of compulsory health insurance to reach a higher level.