How do you catch chickenpox?

Chickenpox is spread in the droplets an infected person breathes, sneezes or coughs out, and in the fluid in the blisters on their skin.

It's highly contagious and can easily be caught through close contact with someone who has it, including through:

  • face-to-face contact, such as having a conversation with someone who has chickenpox
  • being in the same room as someone who has chickenpox, usually for at least 15 minutes
  • touching the blisters
  • contact with items that have recently been contaminated with infected fluid or droplets, such as bedding and clothing

Chickenpox can also be caught by touching the rash caused by shingles.

Someone with chickenpox is infectious from about one to two days before the rash develops, until all the blisters have fully crusted over.

Read more about chickenpox.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 20/10/2015

Next review due: 20/10/2017