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Chickenpox (Varicella) (cont.)

Exams and Tests

Chickenpox (varicella) usually can be diagnosed by the appearance of the chickenpox rashClick here to see an illustration.. For healthy children, describing the rash over the phone to a doctor (rather than visiting the office) may be all that is needed.

But some people need to see a doctor when symptoms of chickenpox appear. You are at more risk for complications from chickenpox if you are a teenager, adult (especially if you smoke cigarettes or have a long-term lung disease), or a pregnant woman, or you have an impaired immune system.

At the doctor's office, your doctor will do a physical exam and ask questions.

Viral tests can determine whether you are immune to the virus and are unlikely to get or have chickenpox.

If you have a blistering rash and it's not known if it was caused by the chickenpox virus, other tests can be done.

A woman who has chickenpox early in her pregnancy may want to have her fetus checked for birth defects. This can be done with a fetal ultrasound.

Find out if you are immune

Some people may be required to be tested for chickenpox immunity. These include people who work in hospitals, day care centers, schools, and other areas where chickenpox can easily be passed from one person to another. Many states require that children entering day care and school have the chickenpox vaccineClick here to view a form.(What is a PDF document?) unless they have a doctor's diagnosis or blood test results that prove immunity.

If you are more likely to get severely ill from chickenpox or to have complications of chickenpox, you may want testing to confirm whether you have ever had chickenpox and have immunity against it. These people include:

  • People with impaired immune systems.
  • Women who are able to have children and have never had chickenpox. Women who are pregnant or who want to become pregnant should consider being tested to see whether they have chickenpox immunity. Having chickenpox immunity prevents complications of chickenpox during pregnancy.

If you have never had chickenpox and therefore do not have immunity against it, you may choose to get the chickenpox vaccine. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of the vaccine.

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