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chickenpox; chickenpops; disease; rash; blister; spot; virus; itch; shingles; immunisation ;


What is chickenpox?

chicken + pox = chickenpoxLots of little kids call this disease chickenpops, and I suppose that's easy to understand, as the spots sort of pop out on the skin for several days!

Chickenpox is caused by a virus (Varicella Zoster virus - say var-i-sella zos-ter - sounds like a real person doesn't it?).

What does it look like?

  • You may feel hot and have a runny nose.
  • runny nose - chickenpoxYou get a rash which starts with a red spot, which then turns into a blister, and more spots come over the next few days.
  • The blisters dry out and turn into scabs.
  • You may have lots of spots all over your body and even in your mouth, or you may have just one or two spots.
  • Some people can have chickenpox without the spots (lucky things).
  • The spots itch a lot and as they dry out you may really feel like scratching.
  • When the spots have healed you usually can't see where they were (no scars).
  • It lasts about a week.

How do you get it?

chickenpoxChickenpox usually appears between 13-17 days after you have been around someone who has it.

You get it through the air when someone who has chickenpox coughs or sneezes.

You can get it by touching the watery stuff that comes out of the chickenpox blisters.

You can get it by touching something that has touched the watery stuff from the blisters.

Better not to have chickenpox at all - get immunised!

What should you do

  • chickenpoxStay home from school for 5 days after the first spots arrive or until all the blisters are dry - which could be longer.
  • Have plenty of drinks.
  • Eat icecream and jelly to soothe your mouth if you have blisters in there (that bit sounds good, doesn't it?)
  • Have cool baths. Mum, dad or whoever looks after you, may put in some oils from the chemist which will help stop the itching.
  • Put Calamine Lotion** or other lotions or creams that you can also get from the chemist onto the spots after each bath, and it will help stop you wanting to scratch.
  • If you are really itchy and can't get to sleep, mum or dad may take you to see the doctor who may give you some anti-histamine tablets to help with the itch.

What should you not do

chickenpox Don't scratch
     Don't scratch
Don't scratch !

even if you are really itchy.
You can get infections from your nails, and even cause little scars to still be there after the spots have gone.

About shingles

Shingles is sort of a grown up relation of chickenpox. People who have had chickenpox when they were young may get shingles when they are older.

A person can't catch shingles from someone who has shingles or chickenpox, but touching the watery stuff in shingles spots can give someone chickenpox if they haven't already had it. There is a topic on shingles which you might like to look at.

How to avoid chickenpox

chickenpoxThere is an immunisation (say im-you-ny-zay-shun) against chickenpox in Australia for little children when they are 18 months old, and for older children when they are in Year 8.

Many kids used to get chickenpox when they were little, when it is usually not too bad and usually nearly all their friends get it around the same time. Nowadays few kids get chickenpox unless they have not been immunised.

Get immunised!

What kids say about chickenpox

"When I had chickenpox it was really boring because I had no one to play with. It was really itchy and not nice at all." Andrew

"The day I got chickenpox it was a special day at our school and I missed it. It was very annoying." Rory

"I got chickenpox when I was going to London on a plane. I felt really sick." James

"I got chickenpox when I was 7." Michael

"I learned not to scratch chickenpox because it can make things worse." Maisie

"Don't stay in the bath too long or else you can get really cold." Uma

"Putting lotion on the spots stops them itching for a while and it feels good." Mei

Dr Kate says:

Dr KateIf you get blisters in your mouth it is a good idea to drink just water or mum may get you a mouth wash from the chemist. Drinks that have salt or acid (like orange juice) in them may sting a bit and make you feel uncomfortable. 




Chickenpox - what a funny sound
Sounds like a chicken does -
"Pox, pox, po-o-o-ox"
as it pecks at the ground.
Chicken 'pops' is what I heard
When I was a little kid.
"Pops, pops, po-o-o-ops,"
And didn't know the right word.


Did you know?

  • Long ago the word 'pox' meant 'smallpox' as well as 'chicken pox'.
  • Some people believed that children who had chickenpox had been cursed by a witch.
  • In the 16th century it was thought that chickenpox was a mild form of smallpox, which was a very bad infection that often killed people.
  • The vaccine against chickenpox is called the varicella vaccine.
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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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