How is a chickenpox (varicella) rash recognized?

Updated: Aug 31, 2020
  • Author: Anthony J Papadopoulos, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Answer

Small, erythematous macules appear on the scalp, face, trunk, and proximal limbs, with rapid sequential progression over 12-14 hours to papules, clear vesicles, and pustules and subsequent central umbilication and crust formation.

Vesicles may appear on the palms and the soles and on the mucous membranes, together with painful, shallow, oropharyngeal or urogenital ulcers. Intense pruritus commonly accompanies the vesicular stage of the rash.

The typical patient remains infectious for 4-5 days after the rash develops, by which time the last crop of vesicles has usually crusted over.


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