Stay at home
If your child has chickenpox, you should inform your child's school or nursery and keep them at home. The Health Protection Agency recommends that children should be kept away from schools, nurseries or childminders for around five days after the start of the rash.
Chickenpox is no longer infectious once all of the blisters have crusted over. This is usually about five to six days after the start of the rash. Your child can return to school or nursery after the last blister has burst and crusted over. Until this happens, your child is still infectious.
If you have chickenpox, you should also stay at home until you are no longer infectious.
If you or your child has recently been exposed to the chickenpox virus, you may not be able to visit friends or relatives in hospital. You should telephone the ward to check first. It is also best that you or your child avoids contact with:
- newborn babies
- anyone who has a weak immune system (the body's defence system), such as people having chemotherapy (a treatment for cancer) or those with HIV or AIDS
Travelling on a plane
If you or your child have chickenpox, you may not be allowed to fly until six days after the last spot has appeared.
You and your child should be safe to fly once you are past the infectious stage and all of the blisters have crusted over, but it is best to check the policy of your airline first. You should inform the airline as soon as you have sought medical advice and had the illness diagnosed.
It is also important to let your travel insurer know. You need to make sure that you will 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.
Stop the virus spreading
The chickenpox virus can sometimes be spread through contact with objects that have been infected with the virus, such as children's toys, bedding or clothing. To help stop the virus spreading, you can wipe any objects or surfaces with a sterilising solution and make sure that any infected clothing or bedding is washed regularly.
There is a chickenpox vaccine that is used to protect people who are most at risk of a serious chickenpox infection. The vaccine can be used to immunise people who may pass the infection on to someone who is most at risk. People who may be considered for vaccination include:
healthcare workers who are not already immune - for example, a nurse who has never had chickenpox and who may pass it to someone they are treating if they become infected
people living with someone who has a weakened immune system - for example, the child of a parent receiving chemotherapy
The vaccine is not suitable for pregnant women, and after having the vaccine you should avoid getting pregnant for three months. The vaccine is also not suitable for people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV and AIDS.
The immune system is the body's defence system, which helps protect it from disease, bacteria and viruses.
Chemotherapy is a treatment of an illness or disease with a chemical substance, e.g. in the treatment of cancer.