Chickenpox is a viral infection. It is highly contagious. It creates a widespread, itchy rash. The infection can also cause serious complications in some people. Chickenpox is more dangerous for adults and newborns. It is also a danger for people with suppressed immune systems.
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Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It spreads from person to person via:
- Airborne droplets of moisture containing the VZV virus
- Direct contact with fluid from a chickenpox rash
It is contagious 1-2 days before the rash erupts. It remains contagious until all of the blisters have crusted. This takes five days. It is most contagious just after the rash has broken out.
A pregnant mother can transmit the virus to a fetus.
Last reviewedOctober 2012by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.