Signs and Symptoms

Sick daughter with father.

Anyone who has not had chickenpox or gotten the chickenpox vaccine can get the disease. Chickenpox illness usually lasts about 4 to 7 days.

The classic symptom of chickenpox is a rash that turns into itchy, fluid-filled blisters that eventually turn into scabs. The rash may first show up on the chest, back, and face, and then spread over the entire body, including inside the mouth, eyelids, or genital area. It usually takes about one week for all of the blisters to become scabs.

Other typical symptoms that may begin to appear 1-2 days before rash include:

  • fever
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite
  • headache

Children usually miss 5 to 6 days of school or childcare due to chickenpox.

Chickenpox in Vaccinated People (Breakthrough Chickenpox)

Some people who have been vaccinated against chickenpox can still get the disease. However, the symptoms are usually milder, with fewer or no blisters (or just red spots), mild or no fever, and shorter duration of illness. But some vaccinated people who get chickenpox may have disease similar to unvaccinated people.

People at Risk for Severe Chickenpox

Some people who get chickenpox may have more severe symptoms and may be at higher risk for complications. For more information, see complications.