Symptoms of Chickenpox in Adults

Chickenpox typically infects children, but can infect anyone—including adults—who are not immune to it. Most children in the United States are vaccinated against chickenpox. The Mayo Clinic reports this either prevents the disease from occurring or limits the severity of the disease. It is rare, but some people can become very sick with chickenpox and adults tend to have more severe symptoms than children, according to the National Institute of Health.

Rash and Blisters

Chickenpox is very contagious, the Mayo Clinic states. It may infect anyone near someone already infected through physical contact with the rash that occurs or via a sneeze or cough in the area. The most common symptoms of chickenpox are the rash that develops and the blisters. The rash typically will be red and appear as if you have been bitten by many insects. It will itch a lot during the first part of the infection. The blisters that develop will be small and filled with liquid. Eventually, these will burst and than a crust will form over them. Contact with this liquid by another person can transmit the disease. The Mayo Clinic reports the rash typically affects your back, chest, scalp and face, but also can cover your body. It also may occur in your vagina, eyes or throat.


Other symptoms of chickenpox may occur prior to the outbreak of the rash and blisters or at the same time. You may, for example, have a feeling of general discomfort called malaise. This means you just do not feel well, even though you may not be able to pinpoint exactly what is wrong. It is easier to associate it with chickenpox if you either already are developing the rash or if you are in contact with someone who is infected. Otherwise, it may be harder to recognize the symptom for what it is.

Abdominal Problems

Chickenpox also may present itself in other ways. For example, you may get pain in your abdominal region that does not appear to be connected with an injury or illness. You also may lose your appetite and not be able to eat to the normal level. Again, this may be more severe in adults than in children.

Flu-like Symptoms

You may come down with a fever either before chickenpox shows itself via the blisters or rash. You also may develop a dry cough. There also is the potential for headaches that may be mild or moderate in the pain they cause.

About this Author

Carole Anne Tomlinson has been a registered nurse working in a variety of medical environments for more than 25 years. She now serves as the nursing supervisor for a chemical dependency facility. She has also written numerous articles for a variety of websites.