Chickenpox is a mild and common childhood illness that most children catch at some point. It causes a rash of red, itchy spots that turn into fluid-filled blisters. They then crust over to form scabs, which eventually drop off. Some children have only a few spots, but other children can have spots that cover their entire body. These are most likely to appear on the face, ears and scalp, under the arms, on the chest and belly, and on the arms and legs. Chickenpox spreads quickly and easily from someone who is infected.
Chickenpox is most common in children under the age of 10. In fact, chickenpox is so common in childhood that over 90% of adults are immune to the condition because they’ve had it before. Children usually catch chickenpox in winter and spring, particularly between March and May.
However, the spots can be anywhere on the body, even inside the ears and mouth, on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and inside the nappy area.
Although the rash starts as small, itchy red spots, these develop a blister on top and become intensely itchy after about 12-14 hours. After a day or two, the fluid in the blisters gets cloudy and they begin to dry out and crust over. After 1 to 2 weeks, the crusting skin will fall off naturally. New spots can keep appearing in waves for 3 to 5 days after the rash begins. Therefore, different clusters of spots may be at different stages of blistering or drying out.
Exclusion period from nursery can be until spots have crusted over, usually a minimum of five days.