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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Chickenpox
      Category : Health Centers > Infections (Infectious Diseases)


Alternate Names : Varicella

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Chickenpox is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It is characterized by a blistery rash.

What is going on in the body?

Chickenpox is characterized by an itchy rash that looks like very small blisters on a red base. The blisters look like dewdrops on top of a red pimple. Chickenpox is usually acquired in childhood by inhaling the virus from an infected person. It is also acquired by touching the blisters of the chickenpox rash when there is still fluid in them.

The disease is usually more severe in adolescents and adults. It can be life-threatening in people with autoimmune disorders, pregnant women, and babies born to mothers who have chickenpox around the time of delivery. A fetus can sometimes acquire VZV in the first 6 months of pregnancy. If this happens, the baby can be born with:

  • scarring of the skin
  • malformed arms or legs
  • problems with the central nervous system
  • eye problems
  • VZV remains in the body forever. After recovery from chickenpox, the virus usually remains quiet, or latent. But sometimes the virus becomes active again, causing shingles, which is a painful infection along the nerves.

    What are the causes and risks of the disease?

    Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. VZV is a member of the herpes virus family.


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    Chickenpox: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Danielle Zerr, MD
    Reviewer: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Date Reviewed: 07/27/01

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