Does Zovirax Cream Work for Chicken Pox?

Varicella rash. Public Health Image

Zovirax, the trade name for acyclovir, is an antiviral medication used to treat herpes infections: shingles, cold sores, genital herpes and sometimes chicken pox--but only when given orally in tablets and suspension. Zovirax cream does not work for chickenpox.

Chickenpox - Disease

Chickenpox is usually a childhood disease that runs its course in about two weeks. It is a viral infection, clinically known as varicella zoster. Symptoms include muscle aches, fever, sore throat, cough and an itchy rash. The rash usually starts on the stomach and back and then spreads all over. The rash develops into blisters filled with clear fluid. They will burst and then crust over.


Chickenpox is usually accompanied by a mild fever. Acetaminophen will help to reduce the fever. If the fever is over 102, then it is time to consult your child's health-care provider. Do not give aspirin as it has been associated with Reye's syndrome.

Soothe the Itch

The chickenpox rash is itchy. Scratching can lead to infection, creating a complication, so it is important to soothe the rash and ease the itch. Scratching may also lead to scarring. Tepid baths with baking soda or colloidal oatmeal (find that at the pharmacy) soothe and help lessen the itch. Calamine lotion and antihistamines also help control the itch.


Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease and is easily spread before the disease is apparent. According to the CDC the vaccine prevents chickenpox in more than 70 per cent to 90 per cent who receive it. It prevents severe chickenpox in more than 95 per cent of people who get it. Two doses of the vaccine are recommended for your child: the first at 12-15 months and the second at around 5 years, before she enters school.


Zovirax as either a tablet or suspension, taken orally, can be used to lessen the duration and decrease the rash of chickenpox. It can reduce the number of lesions and shorten the healing time to 50 per cent. If your child has a suppressed immune system or other underlying disease, which could lead to complications, he may be given Zovirax.

Zovirax cream has not been shown to be effective for use in chickenpox. Your best bet for treating the rash is over-the-counter and home remedies.