How Did Chickenpox Get Its Name?

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How did chickenpox get its name?
- Martha

The name chickenpox has been around for centuries, and there are a number of theories as to how it got its name. One is that it's from the blisters that are seen with the illness. These red spots — which are about 1/5 inch to 2/5 inch (5mm to 10mm) wide — were once thought to look like chickpeas (garbanzo beans).

Another theory is that the rash of chickenpox looks like the peck marks caused by a chicken. But, in case you were wondering, chickenpox can't be caught from a chicken!

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: July 2012



Related Resources

OrganizationImmunization Action Coalition This organization is a source of childhood, adolescent, and adult immunization information as well as hepatitis B educational materials.


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Chickenpox It's most common in kids under age 12, but anyone can get chickenpox. The good news is that a vaccine can prevent most cases.




Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

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