- Take the Chickenpox Quiz!
- Childhood Skin Problems Slideshow
- View Images of Chickenpox (Varicella)
- Chickenpox FAQs
- Patient Comments: Chickenpox (Varicella) - Side Effects
- Patient Comments: Chickenpox - Adult Experience
What are the possible complications of chickenpox?
Complications can and do occur from chickenpox. Infection of the open pox sore by bacteria can injure the skin, sometimes causing scarring, especially if the patient scratches the inflamed area. Bacterial skin infection is, in fact, the most common complication of chickenpox in children. The next most common complications in children affect the central nervous system and include a disorder of the cerebellar portion of the brain (cerebellar ataxia with wobbliness, dizziness, tremor, and altered speech), encephalitis (inflammation of the brain with headaches, seizures, and decreased consciousness), damaged nerves (nerve palsies), and Reye's syndrome, a potentially fatal combination of liver and brain disease that can be associated with aspirin. (Children with fever should not take aspirin.) Especially serious complications can occur in patients with AIDS, lupus, leukemia, and cancer. Complications also occur in people taking immune-suppressing drugs, such as cortisone-related medications. Newborn infants whose mothers have chickenpox in the last trimester of pregnancy are at increased risk from the disease. If the mother develops the disease from five days before to two days after delivery, the fatality rate for the baby is up to 30%.