Varicella-zoster virus infection is caused by a herpes virus that causes chickenpox, a common pediatric ailment. It is highly contagious. When an adult contracts chickenpox, the sickness might be more severe. The varicella-zoster virus can stay dormant in the body for several years after a person has experienced chickenpox. Herpes zoster (shingles) develops when the virus reactivates.


The most common sign of varicella is a rash that develops into painful, fluid-filled blisters that eventually convert into scabs. The rash may appear on the back, chest, and face, then spread to the rest of the body, including within the eyelids, mouth, and genital area. It usually takes one week for all blisters to turn into scabs.

Other common symptoms that may present one to two days before the rash include:

  • appetite loss
  • fever
  • headache
  • tiredness

Among the complications are the following:

  • bacterial skin infections
  • brain inflammation
  • pneumonia

Adults are more severely affected than youngsters. Symptoms appear 10 to 21 days after exposure, with an average incubation period of two weeks.


The signs and symptoms of varicella infection are used to make the diagnosis. Confirmation is provided by:

  • an examination of the fluid contained within the vesicles
  • scraping of non-cracked lesions or by blood for indications of an initial immune reaction

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) offers the best yield and may be used for non-skin samples such as:

  • bronchoalveolar lavage sample
  • cerebrospinal fluid

Fluorescent antibody testing has overtaken the Tzanck test. PCR yields more than culture vesicular fluid. Blood tests indicate acute infection (IgM), initial condition, and immunity (IgG). Ultrasound can be used to diagnose fetal varicella five weeks after maternal infection.


Primary disease is rarely addressed, allowing it to resolve results in life-long immunity to reinfection. On the other hand, Varicella-zoster virus infection is always a risk due to varicella problems and the numerous issues associated with recurring zoster. Varicella vaccine was approved for use in children aged 12-18 months, adolescents and adults who had never been infected in 1995.

For high-risk patients, the following medications are available to treat chickenpox and shingles:

  • Acyclovir
  • Famcyclovir 

The varicella-zoster virus infection immune globulin is extracted from people with high varicella immunity levels. It is used after exposure to treat those at high risk of problems.

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