Signs & Symptoms of Chickenpox
Most children with chickenpox act sick with fever and vague symptoms (loss of appetite, headache, belly ache) for 1–2 days before they start to break out with a rash. These symptoms last for 2–4 days after the rash appears.
An early pink-to-red, flat, small spot rapidly becomes bumpy and then blisters with a surrounding halo of redness. The spots usually appear first on the trunk or scalp. Linings of body cavities, such as the mouth or nose (mucous membranes), palms, and soles, can also have a few lesions. The average child develops a few hundred blisters, most of which heal without leaving scars.
A child who has had the chickenpox vaccine will have far fewer lesions.
The blister typical of chickenpox is usually described as looking like a dewdrop on a rose petal. The blistered area (vesicle) is thin-walled and easily broken. Vesicles become cloudy and then crust over, with healing completed within 1–3 weeks.
People with chickenpox are contagious from 24–48 hours prior to the appearance of the rash and continue to be contagious up until a week after the onset of the rash. This disease is spread by respiratory secretions, such as from mucus or saliva, so it is especially important to keep unimmunized children and infants away from infected persons.