Chickenpox has topped the charts as the most searched-for ailment on a health website.

Stress-associated conditions, infections and "embarrassing" illnesses dominate the nation’s health woes according to NHS Direct’s Top Twenty inquiries, released for the first time today.

The information, which researchers claim is "possibly the country’s largest health snapshot", comes from millions of anonymous visits to its website over the last six months.

While chickenpox ranks at number one, pregnancy is placed at number two, with more than 200,000 searches between them.

The list also contains a large number of health worries associated with overwork and sensitive topics such as sexually transmitted diseases.

Thrush and diabetes occupy positions three and four and in fifth place is irritable bowel syndrome.

Radio 1’s Dr Mark Hamilton, who helped launch the survey, said: "Chlamydia, ringworm or even depression could be in the top 20 because people may be too embarrassed to approach their doctor.

"Back pain, sciatica and irritable bowel syndrome seem more common nowadays because our modern and hectic Western lifestyles are playing some part in the illnesses we get."

He said that a website visit is not a substitute for visiting a doctor, but helps people make informed decisions.

The website provides a "valuable support" tool to the other health sectors, easing some of the pressure on GPs and hospitals, he said.

The website address is

The Top Twenty searches

1. Chickenpox: 111,861 searches
2. Pregnancy: 108,639
3. Thrush: 89,957
4. Diabetes: 83,074
5. Irritable bowel syndrome: 70,463
6. Back pain: 68,560
7. Sciatica: 63,016
8. Glandular fever: 62,893
9. Kidney infection: 61,745
10. Anaemia: 61,731
11. Thyroid (under active): 61,161
12. Shingles: 60,184
13. Ringworm: 59,564
14. Depression: 59,152
15. Blood pressure (high): 58,440
16. Appendicitis – 55,453
17. Ovarian cyst: 52,464
18. Urinary tract infection: 51,717
19. Meningitis: 51,558
20. Chlamydia: 51,457