Chickenpox affects about 200,000 people each year. It is a viral infection that is highly contagious and spreads very easily. Chickenpox causes a blister-like rash that is extremely itchy and can be an annoyance for the person being affected by the virus. Many people are able to diagnose chickenpox on their own and are also able to get treatment without having to visit a doctor. Chickenpox is an infection that people know a lot about, and most people had chickenpox when they were a child. Understanding everything you can about chickenpox will help you get through it if you have it yourself or it will help you give aid to someone who has it. The first things to understand are the causes and symptoms. Having a grasp on the causes and symptoms will help you recognize chickenpox at its inception so you can treat it as best as possible.

Chickenpox is a viral infection. The virus that causes chickenpox is called the varicella-zoster virus. This virus is one of the herpes viruses. Sometimes people will refer to chickenpox as Varicella because of the name of the virus. This virus also causes shingles, which is why the two infections are closely related, and why chickenpox can sometimes lead to shingles.

Chickenpox is highly contagious and can be spread in many different ways. The most common way that it speeds is through the respiratory tract. Areas that the virus can enter through are mucous membranes of the mouth and nose. Another way that a person can get chickenpox is through the air. An infected person can sneeze or cough and a healthy person can breathe in the virus. One last way that chickenpox can be spread is fairly uncommon. The fluid from a chickenpox blister from an infected person can get onto the skin of a healthy person.

When the chickenpox rash appears on the skin, it will go through three phases. The first phase is raised pink or red bumps called papules. These will break out over the span of several days. The second phase is when fluid-filled blisters called vesicles form from the raised bumps. They will form for about a day before breaking and leaking. The last stage is when crusts and scabs will cover the broken blisters. These will take several days to heal.

Chickenpox will usually last for five to 10 days. Most people can tell what they or others is experiencing is chickenpox from the rash that forms. However, people do show other symptoms up to two days before the rash appears. Some of these symptoms include: loss of appetite, headache, fever, tiredness, and a general feeling of being unwell. Some of these symptoms can point to the flu, so differentiating between the flu and chickenpox may only happen once the rashes start to appear on the skin.

Once bumps appear, they can continue to appear for several days. This means it is possible see the three different stages of the rash over the body at one time. Bumps that came early on may have already crusted over while new ones are still in the first or second stages.  The virus can be spread for 48 hours before the rash appears. Chicken pox sufferers will remain contagious until all of the spots have crusted over.

Knowing the causes and symptoms of chickenpox will help a person recognize it as soon as it appears. Understanding all of the symptoms that can come along with the rashes and bumps can alert a person that the rashes will be occurring soon. The infected can then stay away from others so they do not give anyone else chickenpox. Understanding everything about chickenpox will make getting through the infection much easier.