Emergency advice


  1. Make sure the casualty is comfortable.
  2. Give them plenty of fluids.
  3. Give them the recommended dose of paracetamol.
  4. Prevent them from itching.
  5. If worried, seek medical advice. 

What is chickenpox?

Chickenpox is a highly contagious viral illnes caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Someone with chickenpox will usually have a high temperature and an itchy rash with red blisters. It is a common disease and mostly affects children.

Signs and symptoms

Look for:

  • red spots that can appear anywhere on the body and become itchy, fluid-filled blisters, which may burst and scab over.
  • a high temperature above 37.9°C.
  • aches and pains and generally feeling unwell.
  • loss of appetite.

What to do

  1. If someone has chickenpox, make sure they are comfortable. 

  2. Give them plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.


  3. Ensure they have the appropriate dose of paracetamol for their age to take.

    • Do not give aspirin to anyone under the age of 16.
    • Avoid using ibuprofen, unless advised by a healthcare professional.
  4. If the blisters are very itchy, ask a pharmacist for advice about creams and antihistamines that can be used to help.

  5. To prevent the casualty from itching, you can:

    • trim their fingernails.
    • put socks on their hands at night.
    • dress them in loose clothing.
    • bathe in cool water and pat the skin dry.
  6. Monitor their level of response until they recover.

  7. Seek medical advice, if:

    • the blisters appear to be infected.
    • you’re worried that they are getting worse.

    Stay off work or school until all the spots have formed a scab.  This usually takes about 5 days after the first spot appears.

    Do NOT go near newborn babies, people who are pregnant or have a weakened immune system as chicken pox can be dangerous to them.

    If you are pregnant, have a newbor, or have recently given birth, you should contact your GP urgently.

Related first aid advice


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Scarlet fever in babies

Scarlet fever is an infection that causes a blotchy, pink-red rash, and is most common in children. Find out what to look for nad what to do.

St John Ambulance volunteers providing support