How is chickenpox treated during pregnancy?

Your treatment will depend on the stage of pregnancy and your symptoms. If you're pregnant and think you have chickenpox, contact your GP, midwife or NHS 111 immediately. Chickenpox can cause complications for both the pregnant mother and her baby, so you should get medical advice as soon as possible.

Antiviral medicine

You may be offered aciclovir, an antiviral medicine, which should be given within 24 hours of the chickenpox rash appearing. Aciclovir doesn’t cure chickenpox, but it can make the symptoms, such as fever, less severe and help to prevent complications.

Aciclovir is usually only recommended if you’re more than 20 weeks pregnant, but in some cases, your doctor may suggest it if you’re less than 20 weeks pregnant. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.

Self-help

To help relieve your symptoms, you can try the following:

  • drink plenty of fluids
  • take paracetamol to lower a temperature or help with pain
  • use calamine lotion to help relieve any itching

Will I need to go to hospital?

If you are pregnant, have chickenpox and develop any of these symptoms, you should be admitted to hospital:

  • chest and breathing problems
  • headache, drowsiness, vomiting or feeling sick
  • vaginal bleeding
  • a rash that is bleeding
  • a severe rash

These symptoms are a sign that you may be developing complications of chickenpox and need specialist care.

Will my baby need to be treated?

Once you have chickenpox, there’s no treatment that can prevent your baby from getting chickenpox in the uterus.

After the birth, your GP may consider treating your baby with chickenpox antibodies called varicella zoster immune globulin (VZIG), if:

  • your baby is born within seven days of you developing a chickenpox rash
  • you develop a chickenpox rash within seven days of giving birth
  • your baby is exposed to chickenpox or shingles within seven days of birth and they are not immune to the chickenpox virus; if your newborn baby develops chickenpox, your GP may treat them with aciclovir.

Read the answers to more questions about pregnancy.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 11/12/2015

Next review due: 11/12/2017