Chicken pox (varicella) is a viral infection. It is common in childhood, when the infection is usually mild. Chicken pox usually begins with a fever, followed by a rash after one or two days. The rash usually starts as red spots, and then turns into blisters filled with fluid. Within a few days, crusts form over the blisters. New spots may also appear over the next few days. The rash may be very itchy.
Chicken pox is caused by a virus. If your child gets chicken pox, he (or she) will never get the infection again.
You can try to control your child's fever by giving him ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Do not give your child aspirin or any products that contain aspirin. Aspirin increases the risk of getting Reye's syndrome, a severe illness which can damage the liver and the brain.
The virus that causes chicken pox spreads through the air, or spreads through direct contact with the blister(s) of an infected person. Chicken pox is infectious five days after the rash first appears, or until a crust has formed over the last blister. If your child has been around another child who has chicken pox, watch your child for signs of the infection over the following two or three weeks. Chicken pox can be prevented with the varicella vaccine. Ask your doctor about the vaccine.
If your child gets chicken pox and attends a daycare centre or school, it is important tell the centre staff or teacher. If your child gets chicken pox, and has a fever or is very ill to the point where he can't participate in regular activities, keep him out of daycare or school. If he has a mild case of chicken pox, this is not necessary. Call your child's doctor if you have questions or concerns.
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