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Can Chickenpox be prevented and are there treatment options?

Updated July 30, 2023


There are several home treatments that can help relieve chickenpox symptoms and prevent skin infections. Calamine lotion, oatmeal baths, and the use of antihistamine medications may help to relieve some of the itching. It may also be helpful to wear loose fitting cotton clothing. Refraining from scratching chickenpox lesions can reduce the risk of skin infections. 

Non-aspirin medications, such as acetaminophen, can be used to relieve fever from chickenpox. Aspirin or aspirin-containing products should not be used in children with chickenpox due to an association between aspirin and Reye syndrome, a severe disease which affects the liver, blood, and brain, and can result in death. 

For most people, chickenpox is a mild infection that will resolve on its own. However, it is important to seek out medical attention for the following symptoms: 

  • The chickenpox rash becomes tender, warm, or very red. This may be a sign of a bacterial skin infection
  • The rash has spread to one or both eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Stiff neck
  • Involuntary muscle movements
  • Fever over 102 degrees

Persons who are not immune to chickenpox and considered at a high risk of infection, especially severe infection, can be administered varicella-zoster immune globulin to prevent the illness. This product should be administered as soon as possible or within 10 days of exposure to chickenpox. Physicians can also consider prescribing an oral anti-viral medication, such as Acyclovir, for persons considered at high risk for developing a serious chickenpox infection. These persons include: 

  • healthy persons over the age of 12
  • persons receiving long-term salicylate (aspirin) therapy
  • individuals receiving intermittent, short, or aerosolized treatments with corticosteroids
  • persons with chronic lung and skin disorders

For the best results, treatment with oral anti-viral medication should begin within 24 hours of the appearance of the chickenpox rash. Anti-viral medications are not recommended for use in healthy children who are not experiencing complications from the illness. 

Persons with severe varicella disease and those considered to be immunocompromised are recommended to receive Acyclovir by intravenous infusion (IV). 

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Chickenpox and the Chickenpox vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents , which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.

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