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Department of Infectious Disease

Recognize The Early Signs Of Chickenpox

Posted On: Nov 24, 2019

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Chickenpox is a common illness that affects particularly children under the age of 12. However, it can also affect adults in rare cases such as during pregnancy and compromised immunity.  It is caused by the varicella virus and was a common disease earlier, but is now added to the list of ‘rare diseases.’ Yes, you heard it right!! Thanks to the varicella vaccine. If your kid is between 12 and 15 months of age, you must surely get your child get vaccinated; this must be followed by a booster dose at 4 to 6 years again.

No vaccine can prevent the disease with 100 percent assurance. Vaccines surely work well, but there are chances that your child may get affected by chicken pox even after vaccination. It is also important for you to understand the early signs of chickenpox to recognize the disease at its mild stages.

Here is a guide that makes you understand better about chickenpox and its early signs:

Havoc of chickenpox: Varicella virus which causes chickenpox remains in the body even after running its course, in a dormant stage. Years later, it might reactivate and manifests as a skin infection called shingles.

How does it spread?

It is a highly contagious disease. People who come in close contact with the infected person may contract the chickenpox. But don’t worry!! The infection can spread only during the first days of the disease, from about 48 hours and before the appearance of rashes until all lesions become dry.

You must be aware of identifying the signs of chickenpox because early identification and treatment may protect you or your child from developing the complications of chickenpox such as shingles (a very painful skin rash).

Here are the annoying, early warning signs of chickenpox:


The first sign of chickenpox is a headache. For many, the headache starts before the chickenpox rash appears. But by the time the rash develops, the headache can aggravate and seems to be a migraine pain. People with low immunity and infants may suffer from more severe forms of symptoms.

Flu-like symptoms

In the days before the rash breaks out, it is common that your child may experience muscle aches, fever, nausea, and swollen glands. You may be mistaken that these signs are due to flu or cold.  But after these signs, your child may develop characteristics of chickenpox rash within four to five days. At this stage, you can confirm that your child has got chickenpox and not the flu.


Your child may feel zapped of energy, because of the overall feeling of being unwell and uncomfortable. This is also due to the fact that your child’s body is fighting off the disease leading to exhaustion of energy.

As chickenpox is a communicable disease, your child may also need to skip school to avoid the spread of the disease.

Stomach ache

You child may experience stomachache and nausea before the appearance of a chickenpox rash. Antiviral medications can be helpful to reduce the symptoms but not the chickenpox.

Loss of appetite

Your child may not feel like eating like before. It is obvious that we don’t want to eat when we are unwell. But due to loss of appetite, your child may lose weight and may have impairment in the body’s ability to fight the virus. Therefore, it is important to have a proper diet. It is also essential to keep your child well hydrated to avoid fluid depletion.


Your child may feel sharp, burning pain at the site of the spots a few days before the skin rash appears.

Skin rash

Your child may develop itchy red spots on the chest, face, scalp, arms, groin, and legs. It is very important to remember that chickenpox virus is most contagious two days before the appearance of skin rash. The blisters can be few to 500 or more. They may also appear as bumps that are red and itchy. These bumps usually start from the torso and move upward to face, neck, and limbs and turn into blisters. Your child may also develop blisters in the mouth, throat, and around the eyes, within five days of time, which turn scabby and dry in later stages.


If your child has flu-like symptoms for a few days after contact with an infected person, then it is quite obvious to expect chickenpox the third morning. It is contagious before the red bumpy rashes appear. The blisters may turn yellow, and cause pain. It takes 24 – 48 hours for the rash to turn into fluid-filled blisters, and 24 to 48 hours again for the blisters to turn dry. Overall, it takes 10 to 14 days for the recovery.

In the case of painful blisters or if there is any greenish discharge from the blisters, then your child may have a bacterial infection. You must see the doctor immediately.

Knowing the above early signs of chickenpox may help you to recognize the disease in the early stage and may help in avoiding the complications, further spread, and early treatment. Moreover, to prevent the disease occurrence you must be vaccinated. After all, your body is the place where you live, so, it is your duty to self-guard it.

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