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How Did Chickenpox Get Its Name?

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

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