How contagious is chickenpox

Patient

Q: My son who doesn't live with me, has come out with chickenpox, and i would like to go see him , but i am worried as my girlfriend is 8 weeks pregnant(who i do live with) will become ill or cause problems with the unborn baby?, if i am in contact with my son. i have already had chickenpox when i was younger, but would not like to put any risk to my unborn child. also if is a problem , how long should i stay away from my son?

Doctor

A:   I do understand your concern about the risk of getting chickenpox and it efecting your girlfriend. Certainly if chickenpox develops during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy particularly between weeks 8 and 20 the baby faces a slight risk of a rare group of serious birth defects known as congenital varicella syndrome. However, let me reassure you that since you've had the infection when you were young, this would certainly decrease the chances of developing it. This virus will continue to be contagious until all the lesions in the skin of your son are completely dry, this usually takes about 15 days, the best thing to do to be absolutely sure is to avoid contact till the lesions heal. I hope this helps, take care.

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