by EBSCO Medical Review Board

Here are the basics about each of the medicines below. Only common problems with them are listed.

Prescription Medications

Antiviral Medications

  • Acyclovir
  • Valacyclovir
  • Famciclovir


Varicella immune globulin (IG)

Over-the-Counter Medications


  • Benadryl
  • Antipyretics



Prescription Medications

Antiviral medications

Common name:

  • Acyclovir

Acyclovir is an antiviral drug. It may shorten the illness and lower the risk of problems from it.

It may be given to people with severe chickenpox. It may also be given to people:

  • Over the age of 12 who have not been vaccinated
  • Who have chronic skin or lung disease
  • Receiving steroid therapy
  • Who have a weakened immune system
  • Who are pregnant

Some problems may be:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Kidney problems

Antibiotics may be given to treat a chickenpox rash that has become infected.

Some problems may be:

  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Intense itching
  • Problems breathing
Immune Globulin

Common names are:

  • Varicella-zoster immune globulin

Immune globulin is a blood product that contains antibodies to the chickenpox virus. It may be given to a person who has been exposed to chickenpox who:

  • Has a weakened immune system
  • Is pregnant
  • Was born to a mother who has chickenpox

Over-the-Counter Medications


Common name:

  • Diphenhydramine

Antihistamines are used to ease the itch that comes from the rash.

The most common side effect is feeling sleepy.


Acetaminophen may be taken to lower a fever.

Note: Aspirin or aspirin products should not be given to a child who has an infection. It may cause serious problems.


Ibuprofen may be taken to lower fever.

Some problems may be:

  • Belly pain
  • Allergic reactions, such as swelling


Chickenpox. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Accessed September 8, 2020.

Chickenpox. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: Accessed September 8, 2020.

Chickenpox (varicella). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Accessed September 8, 2020.

Gershon AA, Breuer J, et al. Varicella zoster virus infection. Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2015 Jul 2;1:15016.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Shawna Grubb, RN
  • Review Date: 03/2020
  • Update Date: 03/23/2021