Chickenpox (Varicella)

Chickenpox is a viral disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. More than 90% of people get this disease. Once it’s gone, it never returns. But even though you only get it once, it can be very annoying. What exactly is chickenpox and can it be dangerous?

Herpes family

The herpes family is a group of different viruses that humans and animals can contract. There are about a hundred known diseases, but only eight of them actually occur in humans. Some well-known diseases in the herpes family are chickenpox, shingles, genital herpes and cold sores.
The word herpes comes from the word herpein, which means to crawl in Greek. There are several theories about the reason for this name. For example, it is said that the name was chosen because the virus remains in the body after infection. Another theory is that it looks like a cold sore is crawling over the body. Unfortunately, the exact reason for the name of the virus is not known.


Chickenpox is infected through coughing. After someone is infected, the first symptoms will appear two to three weeks later. The first symptoms are nausea, headache and grogginess. Red and itchy bumps soon appear on the torso. This spreads to the arms, legs, head and face. After a few days, the bumps will burst and dry into scabs. The spots disappear again after about twelve days.

Infection from chickenpox

Chickenpox is contagious from one day before the outbreak of the disease until all the blisters have dried. Keep your child at home during this period and avoid contact with children who have not yet had the disease as much as possible.

Itchy bumps

The bumps of chickenpox are often itchy. Scratching can cause a skin infection. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics for this. To limit the damage, it is best to keep your child’s nails short.


There is a chance that your child will develop a fever if he or she has chickenpox. Make sure your child is in a warm room that is well ventilated. If the child sweats a lot, wipe this regularly with a lukewarm washcloth or sponge. Change pajamas or sheets regularly.
Children under the age of twelve are not allowed to take aspirin, because it is linked to the condition Reye’s syndrome. Instead, give paracetamol in the indicated dose.
If your baby, under six months old, has a temperature of more than 38.3 degrees, you should consult a doctor. For an older child or adult, you should consult a doctor at temperatures of 40 degrees or more.


During chickenpox, there is a chance that the virus will find its way to the root of a nerve located in the spinal cord. The virus can remain dormant there and become active in older people whose immune systems are weakened.
Shingles can cause a shooting pain and blisters appear on the skin of the nerve. The rash can last two to three weeks. Once the rash on the skin has disappeared, the pain may persist for a few weeks.
The virus can also be located in the eye. You must then be very careful, because blindness can be a consequence of the infection. An eye infection can be treated with eye drops, eye ointment or tablets.
You can use zinc oxide ointment to combat the itching of the blisters . The drug acyclovir can reduce pain and itching.

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