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Chickenpox is a very common childhood illness, caused by a virus called varicella. It starts with red bumps that become small, yellowish blisters affecting the whole body – including the mouth and genitals (which can be very painful). They then open before scabbing over. These are very itchy and can make your child miserable. They may have a temperature, a cough and a runny nose. Children are able to pass the virus to others from the day before the rash appears until the last spot has scabbed over.
Chickenpox rarely needs treatment, unless in a new-born baby, or in a child with a known weak immune system ( i.e. weakened immune system due to anti-cancer treatment, immunosuppressive treatment or genetic immunodeficiency). If you are not sure it is chickenpox look at other childhood rashes here.
Go to the nearest Hospital Emergency (A&E) Department or phone 999
Please ring your GP surgery or call NHS 111 - dial 111
If symptoms persist for 4 hours or more and you have not been able to speak to either a member of staff from your GP practice or to NHS 111 staff, recheck that your child has not developed any red features.
Continue providing your child’s care at home. If you are still concerned about your child, speak to your health visitor, local pharmacist or call NHS 111– dial 111
Children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home. They can go back to school, college or childcare when they no longer have a high temperature, and they are well enough to attend.
Seeing your child unwell with chickenpox can be very distressing for a parent and while there is usually no treatment for the virus itself, there are simple things you can do to make your child more comfortable:
The chickenpox vaccine is a vaccine used to prevent catching and spreading the disease. It is not part of the standard vaccine programme but is offered to childrenwho are at increased risk of severe chickenpox infection and to those with a family member at risk of complications. It is also available privately through travel clinics and pharmacies and costs between £120-£200. More information is available here.
This guidance is written by healthcare professionals from across Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight.