Chickenpox is a common childhood illness caused by a virus and is a very contagious (catching) disease. It causes small itchy blisters on your skin and if there are no complications, chickenpox usually clears up within 3–7 days for adults, and 5–10 days for children.
The virus is spread through the air by infected people when they sneeze or cough, and by touching the chickenpox blisters then touching objects or other people.
The illness starts 10–21 days after being exposed.
How to stop chickenpox spreading
Chickenpox is contagious from 1–2 days before the blisters appear. Avoid close contact with other people, stay home from work and keep children home from school and early childhood education centres for 1 week from the appearance of the rash until all blisters have dried.
Chickenpox is more common in children between the ages of 2 and 10 years. If one child in your household gets it, it is almost certain that any others who have never had chickenpox will get it next. You are at risk of getting chicken pox if you have never had chicken pox and haven't had a vaccine.
If you suspect your child may have chickenpox call your local GP or Healthline on 0800 611 116 for free advice from a registered nurse.
Up-to-date information on chicken pox is also available on the attached fact sheet and by visiting the Ministry of Health website.