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Chickenpox (cont.)

Is There a Treatment for Chickenpox?

  • If you have a fever, your doctor may recommend acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  • If you appear dehydrated and are unable to drink fluids, your doctor may recommend IV fluids either in an emergency room or as a hospitalized patient.
  • Secondary bacterial skin infections may be treated with antibiotics. Because a virus causes chickenpox, no antibiotic can cure the disease.

For people who have severe infections, an antiviral agent called acyclovir (Zovirax) has been shown to shorten the duration and severity of symptoms if given soon after the onset of the rash. Acyclovir may be given by mouth or by IV to help people at risk for severe infection.

  • Neonatal VZV infection may be treated with VZIG (varicella zoster immune globulin) -- a form of highly concentrated anti-VZV gamma globulin. The only product manufacturer of VZIG has ceased production, but an alternative product, VariZIG, is available on a research protocol.

Is It Possible to Prevent Chickenpox? Is There a Chickenpox Vaccine?

Varivax, a two-dose vaccine for chickenpox, is highly recommended for healthy children, adolescents, and adults who did not have the disease during childhood. A chickenpox vaccine was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1995 and is widely available. A combination measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella (MMRV) vaccine was licensed in the United States in 2005 and may be administered to children 4 years of age and older. (It is not recommended for younger children due to a rare possibility of a seizure associated with a fever as a side effect of the vaccine.)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all healthy children 12 months through 12 years of age receive two doses of chickenpox vaccine, administered at least three months apart. The most common timetable for immunization is for the initial vaccination at 12-15 months of age with a booster at 4-6 years of age. Children who have evidence of immunity to varicella do not need the vaccine. Those aged 13 and over who do not have evidence of immunity should get two doses of the vaccine four to eight weeks apart.

When fully immunized, the vaccine has been shown to be 95% effective in preventing childhood cases of chickenpox. A small percentage of newly immunized people will develop a mild rash. Pregnant women and infants younger than 1 year of age should not be vaccinated.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/3/2016

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Varicella »

Varicella, commonly known in the United States as chickenpox, is caused by the varicella-zoster virus.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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