This is a highly contagious exanthematous illness caused by the Varicella Zoster virus (herpes group)

Clinical features

  • The incubation period is approx 15 days
  • This starts with mild fever and constitutional features like body ache, runny nose

Skin features

  • Centripetal distribution ( more over the chest/ back)
  • Lesions occur as crops and appear simultaneously
  • Lesions presents papules/ vesicles/ crusting
  • Lesions can be itchy and painful
  • The lesions erupt for about 5-7 days


  • Chickenpox is contagious about 2 days before onset of rash until crusting of them.
  • Never give salicylates in chickenpox as they can develop Reye’s syndrome

Lab tests

  • Tzanck tests- the ruptures vesicles are fixed on a slide and stained to look for multinucleated giant cells
  • Virus culture


  • Acyclovir is prescribed if nervous involvement, immunocompromised
  • Itching can be treated with oral or intravenous antihistamine


  • Vaccination- 12 months of age onwards
  • Passive immunity- immunoglobulin in immunocompromised, neonates whose mother developed varicella 5 days or less before birth

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