Health A-Z


Clinical Definition

Varicella is an infectious childhood disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus, also known as the human herpes virus-3, characterized by an itchy rash that can last up to 10 days.

In Our Own Words

Chickenpox is the common name for varicella, which is caused by a strain of herpes known as the varicella-zoster virus. People with a weakened immune system are at risk from this virus, and the same virus can also cause shingles in people who have previously been infected with chickenpox. Although this condition used to be a rite of passage in childhood,  a vaccine for chickenpox has reduced the incidence of children suffering from this disease, and may also offer some protection against shingles in adulthood.

Chickenpox is most common in children under 10, and the virus particles can spread easily through the air or by touching the blisters caused by chickenpox. Once a patient has chickenpox, red, itchy bumps appear on the skin, which eventually turn to blisters and then scabs. The disease can last five to 10 days. Once a person has had chickenpox, he or she is usually protected from getting it again.

Symptoms and Side Effects

  • Blistering
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Tiredness
  • Fever
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