Chickenpox is highly contagious and can make some people very ill. Find out how to avoid spreading it to others.

Stay away from school or work

If you or your child has chickenpox, stay away from nursery, school or work until all of the blisters have dried up and scabbed over.

This usually happens five or six days after the rash first appears.

You may continue to have spots on your skin for another week or two, but you're no longer contagious if the spots are dry and scabby.

Avoid contact with people at risk

Certain people are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they become infected with chickenpox.

These include:

  • pregnant women
  • newborn babies
  • people with a weakened immune system (the body's defence system), such as people with HIV, those taking high doses of steroid medication and those having chemotherapy

If possible, try to avoid contact with people from these groups until the blisters have scabbed over and you're no longer contagious.

Clean and wash regularly

Chickenpox can be spread through contact with objects that have been contaminated with the virus, such as toys, bedding or clothing.

If someone in your house has chickenpox, you can help stop it spreading by cleaning any objects or surfaces with a disinfectant and making sure that any infected clothing or bedding is washed regularly.

Check before travelling on a plane

If you or your child has chickenpox, you may not be allowed to fly until all the blisters have dried and scabbed over.

It's a good idea to inform the airline of your situation and check whether they have a policy about when they allow people with chickenpox to fly.

It's also important to let your travel insurer know if you or your child has chickenpox.

You need to make sure that you'll be covered if you have to delay or cancel your holiday, or if you need to extend your stay until your child is well enough to fly home.

Chickenpox vaccination

There is a vaccination against chickenpox, but it's only given to people who are at a very high risk of spreading the infection to vulnerable people.

These include healthcare workers and people living with someone who has a weakened immune system.

Read more about the chickenpox vaccination.

Page last reviewed: 18/10/2016
Next review due: 18/10/2019