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How long after catching chickenpox do spots appear?

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

Chickenpox, caused by the varicella-zoster virus, is a highly contagious infection known for its itchy red rash of spots that turn into fluid-filled blisters. It mainly affects children but can also occur in adults who haven’t been vaccinated or had it before.

The virus spreads easily through contact with infected blisters or respiratory droplets from coughing or sneezing. It can also spread by touching contaminated surfaces.

How quickly do chickenpox spots appear?

If you’ve recently been around someone with chickenpox, you might be concerned about whether you’ve caught it too. It usually takes about 10 to 21 days (typically around 14 days) from exposure for symptoms to appear. 

First, you might notice feeling feverish and generally unwell. Then, about 1 to 2 days later, small, itchy red spots start appearing on your face, scalp, chest, and back. These spots quickly develop into fluid-filled blisters that eventually scab over.

Frequently asked questions about chickenpox

How long does it take for chickenpox spots to appear after exposure?

After exposure, chickenpox spots typically appear within 10 to 21 days, often around 14 days. Early symptoms may include fever and feeling unwell.

What are the early symptoms of chickenpox in children?

Early symptoms of chickenpox in children often include fever, headache, loss of appetite, and feeling generally unwell. These symptoms typically precede the characteristic rash of red spots by 1 to 2 days.

Can adults get chickenpox if they've had it as a child?

No, typically adults who had chickenpox as children develop immunity. However, in rare cases, they may get it again due to weakened immunity or exposure to a different strain.

A little girl sits up in bed hugging her teddy bear with a clear chickenpox rash on her face

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