Medical Q&As

Chicken pox - still infectious?

I am 23 years old and have been diagnosed with chicken pox. The first spots appeared late last week. As yet none have crusted over and new ones are still emerging. They are everywhere! How long can I expect to be ill for, particularly in relation to how long I'll be out of work?

You indicate that you are still developing new spots from the chicken pox, which indicates that you are still infectious and capable of spreading the infection within the workplace. You can regard yourself as being no longer infectious when you donít develop any new spots and when the old spots have crusted and dried. That process may yet take several days to be completed. Ironically we are at our most infectious with chicken pox before we even know that we have contracted it. It is possible to transmit the virus to others while the virus is incubating in our bodies. In other words it can spread widely before symptoms develop. Adults tend to be more severely affected by chicken pox when compared with its impact on children so I am not surprised that you still feel ill at this stage of the illness. Fortunately the illness usually resolves completely without any residual complications and immunity against the disease is life-long thereafter. I would anticipate that you would be able to return to work next week.