Medications for Chickenpox
The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your healthcare provider if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your healthcare provider, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your healthcare provider.
Antibiotics are given in cases where the chickenpox rash has become infected by staphylococcal or streptococcal organisms.
Some of these organisms may be resistant to common antibiotics, especially when infection is acquired in the hospital.
Possible side effects include:
- Intense itching
- Difficulty breathing
These are signs of an allergic reaction and require immediate medical attention.
Common names include:
Immune globulin is a blood product that contains antibodies to the chickenpox virus.
For prevention: It is given by injection immediately after exposure to the VZV virus (within 96 hours).
For treatment: In some patients, it can be given to help decrease the severity of chickenpox.
For prevention or treatment: It is usually only given to people who are at risk for severe complications from the disease. These include:
- Newborns whose mothers have chickenpox
- People who are immunosuppressed or very ill
- Pregnant women
- Some preliminary evidence suggests that immunization given immediately after exposure may also be effective in reducing a susceptible person’s risk of catching chickenpox.
Antihistamines are used to reduce the itch that comes from the rash. The medication can be taken orally or applied topically.
The most common side effect of oral antihistimines is drowsiness. Topical diphenhydramine can produce a severe allergic skin rash. I t can also cause severe sedation due to absorption from injured skin. It is generally not recommended for treating chickenpox.
Common names include:
Acetaminophen is taken to control high fever caused by chickenpox.
- Note: Aspirin is not recommended for children or teens with a current or recent viral infection. This is because of the risk of Reye's syndrome. Ask your doctor which other medicines are safe for your child.
Ibuprofen is taken to control high fever caused by chickenpox.
Note: Ibuprofen should not be given to any one with peptic ulcer disease, kidney failure, high risk of bleeding disorder, known hypersensitivity. Special caution in: congestive heart failure, liver or kidney disease, high blood pressure, those on anticoagulant.
Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:
- Take your medication as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
- Do not stop taking them without talking to your doctor.
- Do not share them.
- Know what the results and side effects. Report them to your doctor.
- Some drugs can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one drug. This includes over-the-counter medication and herb or dietary supplements.
- Plan ahead for refills so you don’t run out.
American Pharmaceutical Association website. Available at:
The Long: Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 3rd ed 2008 Churchill Livingstone.
The Merck Manual of Medical Information. 17th ed. Simon and Schuster, Inc.; 2000.
National Centers for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
USP DI. 21st ed. Micromedex; 2001.
Last reviewed October 2012 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Publishing. All rights reserved.