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Risk Factors for Chickenpox
A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop chickenpox with or without some of the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing chickenpox. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.
If you are not immune to chickenpox, factors that will increase your risk of contracting the disease include:
- Coming in direct contact with someone infected with chickenpox or shingles
- Sharing eating utensils or other personal items with someone who has chickenpox
Some populations are at a higher risk for chickenpox, these include:
- Persons of any age who have neither had chickenpox in the past nor been immunized against chickenpox
- Newborns, especially those born prematurely, under 1 month old, or whose mothers had never contracted chickenpox prior to pregnancy
- People with a weakened immune system
- People with cancer
- Pregnant women
- People who are taking immunosuppressant drugs
- People who are moderately or severely ill and are not yet fully recovered
- People who have certain disorders affecting the blood, bone marrow, or lymphatic system
If you are not immune to chickenpox, traveling abroad can increase your risk of contracting chickenpox. The disease is much more prevalent outside the US because of lower rates of vaccination.
Chickenpox. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116084/Chickenpox . Updated June 19, 2017. Accessed March 14, 2018.
Chickenpox. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/chickenpox.html. Updated January 2017. Accessed March 14, 2018.
Chickenpox (varicella). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox. Updated June 28, 2016. Accessed March 14, 2018.
Daley AJ, Thorpe S, Garland SM. Varicella and the pregnant woman: prevention and management. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2008;48(1):26-33.
Weller TH. Varicella: historical perspective and clinical overview. J Infect Dis. 1996;174(Suppl):S306-S309.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD
- Review Date: 03/2018
- Update Date: 03/15/2015