Chickenpox is a very common childhood infection and one of the few which we do not routinely immunise children against. Adults, especially pregnant women, tend to be more ill with chickenpox than children.

The spots are itchy blisters which generally start on the body and spread out to the arms and legs later. They normally appear about a fortnight after contact with an infected person. A person with chickenpox is generally contagious until the last blister has dried up.

Children with chickenpox do not need to be kept in bed, but should avoid contact with others who may wish to avoid catching it.

There is no cure for chickenpox, but calamine lotion, available from pharmacies, applied to the skin will help with the itching. Antihistamine syrups, also available from pharmacies, may help the itching if given by mouth. Sometimes scratching the spots can cause an infection which may need an antibiotic.

Contact the doctor when the surgery is open if:

  • you are pregnant, have never had chickenpox and have been in contact with a case

  • the spots become infected

  • you are on steroid treatment

Contact the doctor immediately if:

  • there is any difficulty in breathing or abnormal drowsiness

  • the patient is very unwell

  • there is a headache or light intolerance