Chickenpox In Babies: Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment

September 14, 2023

Chickenpox In Babies

Chickenpox is a condition that regularly affects babies and young children. This page is here to give you all the vital information you need about what Chickenpox is and what you can do to help your baby. 

It will provide general information regarding Chickenpox, its symptoms, and how you can protect your baby from it.

Healthy baby sleeping

What Is Chickenpox?

Chickenpox is a common viral infection that primarily affects children. The condition is caused by a virus, known as Varicella Zoster virus and causes an itchy, spotty rash on the skin. The rash can appear anywhere on the body. It often starts in a small area. However, it can begin to spread to other areas of the body. 

Chickenpox can be more harmful in babies than children, as newborns have less mature immune systems. Therefore, Chickenpox can become a very serious infection. It is crucial that you are aware of the signs so you can identify the condition and seek medical advice if needed.

Chickenpox Symptoms

It may feel like Chickenpox appears out of nowhere, but there is a scientific explanation for this. The condition is caused by the Varicella-zoster virus. The virus incubates for between 10 to 21 days. This means your baby could start to show symptoms anywhere between that timeframe. 

As briefly discussed, an itchy spotty rash is the main symptom. However, you may struggle to identify Chickenpox until the rash appears. An early sign of Chickenpox can be flu-like symptoms. This could indicate that your baby has Chickenpox, so it is always recommended that you take them to the doctor for an examination to be safe. Some of the other early symptoms of Chickenpox include:

  •  A Temperature: usually not too high at the start of the illness. A higher fever during the illness might indicate a serious complication such as sepsis and should always be checked
  • Loss of appetite or difficulty feeding
  • Drowsiness or sleeping for longer than usual
  • Irritability or fussiness
  • Appearing to be generally unwell

Chickenpox Stages

Chickenpox progresses through various stages. Typically, once symptoms start to appear, the immune system will take around a week or two to bring the infection under control. The first stage that your baby will go through during Chickenpox is the prodromal phase.

Prodromal Phase: The prodromal phase begins between 4-6 days after exposure. The virus starts to move from the respiratory tract or eyes to the lymph nodes and then spreads to the bloodstream, triggering those early flu-like symptoms. Headaches, nausea, muscle aches, malaise, runny nose, and coughing are all symptoms that can occur throughout this stage.

Blister Stage: The blister stage can start as early as 10 days after exposure but can be up to 3 weeks later. The virus begins to appear on the outer layer of the skin, known as the epidermis. Symptoms include a rash that starts with tiny red dots on the skin. You’ll notice some vesicles join together to form large, cloudy blisters that can be very itchy.

Baby with chickenpox rash all over the body

Umbilication: Around 4-5 days after the blister stage, the vesicles start to crust over. The condition gradually becomes less contagious. The vesicles on the skin may harden, which forms little indentations called umbilication.

How Long Does Chickenpox Last?

Chickenpox typically lasts for two weeks. During the first few days of infection, new spots can appear in groups all over the body. However, these spots should dry up after around 5-10 days. Scabs will form, and eventually, they will fall off. You may notice new spots appearing as older ones are healing. This is completely normal and nothing to worry about as it can take around two weeks for all spots to dry up.

How Do You Get Chickenpox?

Babies and young children can contract Chickenpox from coming into close contact with the infection. Unfortunately, it can be spread very easily. Someone infected with Chickenpox can spread the disease to others two days before spots appear. Chickenpox can also be passed on through pregnancy. This can pose a threat to your unborn child. If you begin to suffer from any of the symptoms related to Chickenpox, you must consult with your doctor as soon as possible.

Chickenpox Complications

Chickenpox can cause serious complications. However, it is important to note that the infection usually passes without them. Nevertheless, we should take time to understand some of the complications relating to this infection, such as dehydration, bacterial infections, and pneumonia. Newborn babies have a weaker immune system, so the condition can have serious consequences. Although, it is important to mention that it is rare for newborns to catch Chickenpox. 

If your baby is healthy, Chickenpox symptoms are likely to be less of a serious concern and more of an annoyance. So, try not to worry, and if you have any major concerns, try speaking to your doctor, who can help put your mind at ease.

Measles Vs Chickenpox

Measles and Chickenpox are both contagious infections that babies and children can experience. Both infections are caused by a virus. Measles is caused by the Measles virus, whilst the Varicella-zoster virus causes Chickenpox. The symptoms of both include fever, headache, and a rash. Although both infections cause a rash to develop, the appearance of the rash sets these two diseases apart. 

A Chickenpox rash starts with raised red bumps that turn into itchy, fluid-filled blisters. They eventually leak before scabbing over. A Measles rash differs as they often appear as flat red spots. These spots do not contain fluid and begin to merge as the rash spreads.

Baby with Measles rash on face

Looking After Your Baby With Chickenpox

If your baby has Chickenpox, there are some things that you can do to assist their recovery. One of the first things you can do is keep nails trimmed and cleaned. A Chickenpox rash can be itchy, and you want to do everything you can to make sure your baby doesn’t scratch their spots. Covering your babies’ hands with gloves or mittens can also help. 

To help with itching, you can also apply calamine lotion to the spots. You can often buy this over the counter at your local pharmacy. Dab the lotion directly onto the spots to provide relief. You should also ensure that your baby gets enough fluids to stop them from becoming dehydrated and look out for signs of complications such as developing high fevers, unsteadiness (if walking), or appearing more unwell than you expect. If you are worried about your baby or child it is always important to seek medical advice.

Chickenpox Vaccine

The Chickenpox vaccine is available for babies 12 months or older. Your baby will require two doses of the vaccine within a minimum interval of four weeks between doses. The vaccine has been designed to protect your baby against the severity of Chickenpox.

Here at Childhealthy, we offer the vaccine to young children who are 12 months and above. For more information, visit the Chickenpox vaccination page on our website.

Book A Chickenpox Vaccine

If you would like to book an appointment for your child to have a chickenpox vaccine or have any more questions please contact us on 0207 390 8045 or book an appointment through our website.





Disclaimer: Information contained in this article is intended as general advice and does not replace a medical assessment. If you are concerned about your child please contact your doctor for advice.


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