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"Chickenpox Parties"—Don't Take the Chance

Girls laughing at a slumber party.

"Chickenpox parties" have been held to increase a child's chance of getting chickenpox while he or she is still young. Chickenpox can be serious, especially for infants and even for some children. So, it is not worth taking the chance of exposing them to chickenpox. The best way to protect infants and children against chickenpox is to get them vaccinated. Read more about the chickenpox vaccine.

Pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for serious chickenpox disease. They should stay away from people with chickenpox and should not go to chickenpox parties.

Read more about chickenpox parties.

Chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. The virus spreads easily from people with chickenpox to others who have never had the disease or received the chickenpox vaccine. The virus spreads in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread by touching or breathing in the virus particles that come from chickenpox blisters.

Chickenpox can also be spread from people with shingles. Varicella-zoster virus also causes shingles. A person with shingles can spread the virus to others who have never had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine. In these cases, the exposed person might develop chickenpox. For more information about how shingles spreads, see Transmission.

When Is a Person Contagious?

A person with chickenpox can spread the disease from 1 to 2 days before they get the rash until all their chickenpox blisters have formed scabs.

It takes from 10 to 21 days after exposure to a person with chickenpox or shingles for someone to develop chickenpox.

If a person vaccinated for chickenpox gets the disease, they can still spread it to others.

For most people, getting chickenpox once provides immunity for life. However, for a few people, they can get chickenpox more than once, although this is not common.

For information about how to prevent chickenpox, see Prevention & Treatment.

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