Chickenpox: When to See a Doctor


Jun 26, 2019


If you have children, you’re used to having them come home with a cough, or having to rush to the pediatrician due to an earache or a Lego up the nose. But what about chickenpox? How much do you know about it, and is there anything you can do to prevent your kids from getting it?

Or if they already have it, is there any treatment that will alleviate their symptoms and accelerate the healing time?

What is Chickenpox?

Chickenpox is an illness caused by a virus called varicella-zoster. The infection is highly contagious and occurs mostly in children, although adults who never had it during childhood can get it too.

Most people only get chickenpox once during their lifetime. Very rarely, a person will get it more than once.

Chickenpox Symptoms

Symptoms of chickenpox are visibly obvious, uncomfortable, and hard to ignore. They include red, itchy blisters that usually appear on the face or chest, then spread all over the body. It’s possible to have several hundred of these blisters. Once a person has been infected, they’ll experience the following symptoms a day or two before the blisters appear:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Exhaustion

The blisters are filled with fluid. Avoid scratching them at all costs, to prevent them from bursting and scarring. Those that do burst will scab.

Causes of Chickenpox

The virus spreads through close contact with a person who has the active infection. So if you live with someone who has chickenpox, and you’ve never had it, and haven’t been vaccinated, you will get it too.

A person is contagious up to two days before the rash appears, so it’s possible for school children to spread chickenpox to classmates before they’re aware that they have it. Once you acquire the virus, it can take up to two weeks for symptoms to develop.

Risk Factors for Getting Chickenpox

Risk factors include:

  • Not being vaccinated
  • Never having had chickenpox (most people get it during childhood)
  • Working with children (daycare, pediatricians office, or school setting)
  • Newborns
  • Preteens or teenagers
  • Smoking

When to See a Doctor for Chickenpox

Go to a doctor at the first sign of symptoms to confirm diagnosis and obtain medication that may alleviate discomforts associated with the virus.

In addition, visit your doctor for any of the following:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Rash that spreads to the eyes
  • Skin that feels warm to the touch
  • A fever higher than 102 F

Be sure to consult with a doctor if anyone in your home has a weakened immune system or if anyone in your home is younger than six months of age.

It’s also crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you’re pregnant, since chickenpox during pregnancy can result in low birth weight and abnormalities.

Treatment for Chickenpox

The only treatment available for chickenpox is antihistamine topical creams to alleviate the itchiness. If you’re otherwise healthy, the virus will have to run its course.

That being said, anyone with a risk of complications will require antibiotics and/or antiviral drugs.

Home Remedies for Chickenpox

Yes, those blisters are itchy, but do not scratch them. Doing so will result in scarring. Take cool baths with baking soda and apply calamine to your skin after bathing. Benadryl also helps to relieve itching.

Recovery Time for Chickenpox

The first symptoms start about two days before the blisters appear. The blisters will dry up in between five and six days. To play it safe, stay home from school or work for about a week.

Chickenpox Complications

Chickenpox complications are rare. However, they can occur in people with a weakened immune system, pregnant women, and in babies. These include:

Chickenpox Prevention

There is a vaccine available to protect children against chickenpox. It’s administered in two doses and is more than 90% effective at preventing the infection. For the minute number of people who still get infected even after the vaccination, the symptoms they experience are much more mild.

24-Hour Emergency Room Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you or your child has chickenpox, we can provide the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.

Find the Complete Care location nearest you.