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 healthcare provider 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
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
against chickenpox (varicella)
especially those born prematurely, under 1 month old, or whose mothers had never contracted chickenpox prior to pregnancy
People with a weakened immune system (chemotherapy, HIV, AIDS, congential or acquired immunodefiencies)
People with cancer
People who are taking immunosuppressant drugs (eg high-dose steroids)
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
Susceptible pregnant women
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 due to much lower rates of vaccination.
Daley AJ, Thorpe S, Garland SM: Varicella and the pregnant woman: prevention and management. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2008;48:26-33.
The Merck Manual of Medical Information
. 17th ed. Simon and Schuster, Inc.; 2000.
The Long: Principles and Practice of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 3rd ed 2008 Churchill Livingstone.
National Centers for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
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