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How long are children with chicken pox contagious?

How long is a child with chicken pox contagious? I know that I should be careful and not send my kindergartener back to school so soon that he'll definitely infect other kids, but all the same I don't want him to miss more school than is necessary. What's the right amount of time to keep a kid quarantined?
Chicken pox is one of the most common infectious problems in childhood, although it is decreasing as most children are now vaccinated. Your pediatrician would be able to discuss this issue with you in great detail. Chicken pox is a very contagious viral infection that is caused by the varicella virus. The infection can be spread both through the air (by coughing) as well as by contact with the fluid inside the chicken pox lesions. Usually people with chicken pox are infectious for several days already before they know they have chicken pox (before the rash appears) by coughing. After the rash appears, the blisters are highly contagious until they have completely scabbed over. Generally the recommendation is that the child can return to school when all of the chicken pox lesions have scabs on them. It is not necessary to wait until the spots have entirely healed. In addition to passing the infection to other children, chicken pox can be very dangerous for people with immune conditions, serious illness like cancer, or pregnant women, who should all avoid exposure to cases of chicken pox. As always the diagnosis and the management of your child's specific condition will require a physical examination by their pediatrician. Scheduling an office visit is highly recommended.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under ZocDoc’s Terms of Service.

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