What are the symptoms of chickenpox?

Chickenpox, a common illness among children, causes a blistery rash and flu-like symptoms.

“Chickenpox causes a red, itchy skin rash that usually appears first on the abdomen or back and face and then spreads to almost everywhere else on the body. This includes the scalp, mouth, nose, ears and genitals,” says Giselle Namazie, M.D., internist in UCLA’s Westlake Village office. The signature rash becomes thin-walled blisters filled with clear fluid and appears in crops over two to four days. Once the blister wall breaks, infected areas become open sores, which crust over to become dry, brown scabs and eventually heal.

Some kids may develop a fever, abdominal pain, sore throat or a headache a day or two before a rash appears. These symptoms may last for a few days, and the fever usually ranges between 100° and 102° F, though in rare cases, it may be higher. Parents should consult with their child’s pediatrician if they are concerned.

The tell-tale sign of chickenpox is its rash. This rash will be small, red bumps (like bug bites) and incredibly itchy. You'll notice it first crop up on the trunk and face, but it will then spread to other parts of the body. The rash will become blistery after that. Once these blisters pop open and release the fluid inside, they will become open sores that will dry out into brownish scabs. You may also have a fever, headache, abdominal pain, sore throat, irritability, and cough before or during the time the rash is present.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.