You haven't been feeling so great for the last few days, and you've had a runny nose and a cough. Then one morning you wake up and stumble into the bathroom. You look in the mirror with blurry eyes and — yikes! You have chickenpox!
What Is Chickenpox?
Chickenpox is caused by a virus called varicella zoster. People who get the virus often develop a rash of spots that look like blisters all over their bodies. The blisters are small and sit on an area of red skin that can be anywhere from the size of a pencil eraser to the size of a dime.
You've probably heard that chickenpox are itchy. It's true! The illness also may come with a runny nose and cough. But the good news is that chickenpox is a common illness for kids, and most get better by resting just like you do with a cold or the flu.
And the really good news is that, thanks to the chickenpoxvaccine, lots of kids don't get chickenpox at all. Kids who do get it after they've gotten the shot often get less severe cases, which means they get better quicker.
What Happens When You Have Chickenpox?
Chickenpox may start out seeming like a cold: You might have a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and a cough. But 1 to 2 days later, the rash begins, often in bunches of spots on the chest and face. From there it can spread out quickly over the entire body — sometimes the rash is even in a person's ears and mouth.
The number of pox is different for everyone. Some people get just a few bumps; others are covered from head to toe. At first, the rash looks like pinkish dots that quickly develop a small blister on top (a blister is a bump on your skin that fills up with fluid). After about 24 to 48 hours, the fluid in the blisters gets cloudy and the blisters begin to crust over.
Chickenpox blisters show up in waves, so after some begin to crust over, a new group of spots might appear. New chickenpox usually stop appearing by the seventh day, though they may stop as early as the third day. It usually takes 10-14 days for all the blisters to be scabbed over and then you are no longer contagious.
Besides the rash, someone with chickenpox might also have astomachache, a fever, and may just not feel well.