Chicken Pox and Shingles

In the 20th-century chicken pox was much more common, as there was no vaccine for the virus that causes it. Most adults who grew up in that era have a story about their time when they were quarantined with chicken pox. Fortunately, today, there is a vaccine. However, some people, either because they have not received or are resistant to the vaccine, may still get it. Chicken pox and shingles are caused by the same virus and can emerge in adulthood even after you have been over chicken pox for many years.

What Is Chicken Pox?

Chicken pox is generally considered a childhood illness and is characterized by itchy red spots or blisters all over the body. This condition is caused by the Herpes Varicella Zoster virus. In children, symptoms can include fatigue, headache, sore throat, fever, achiness, and severe itching, but it usually passes with the child regaining full health in a couple of weeks. In adults, symptoms can be much more serious, potentially developing into pneumonia, encephalitis, and kidney disease.

How Does Chicken Pox Start?

This condition is highly contagious and can be passed on from 2-3 days before the rash appears until the blisters are crusted over. It spreads from exposure to infected people who cough, sneeze, share food or drinks, or by touching the blisters. The incubation period (from exposure to the first appearance of symptoms) is 14-16 days. When the blisters crust over, they are no longer contagious and the child can return to normal activity. This normally takes about 10 days after the initial appearance of symptoms.

The Relationship Between Chicken Pox and Shingles

If you had chicken pox as a child, you may develop shingles as an adult. Shingles usually look like a line of blisters wrapping around the side of your body. They can be very painful, itchy, and sensitive to the touch. You may have other symptoms as well, such as fever, headache, fatigue, and light sensitivity. 

Treatment for Chicken Pox

It is important not to scratch the blisters as doing so can slow down the healing process and result in scarring. Scratching may also lead to another infection. To help relieve the itching, soak in a cool bath. Children with this condition should get plenty of bed rest and can take over-the-counter analgesics to reduce any fever. More serious cases are usually seen in people with other long-term health problems. Although about four million children get chicken pox each year, it may be preventable via a vaccine. Children should receive two doses of the vaccine,  the first between 12-15 months. and the second between ages 4-6. Older children who have not been vaccinated can be effectively treated with two catch-up doses. Adults who have never had the illness should also be vaccinated. There is also a vaccine available for shingles. If you already have shingles, contact Glendale Dermatology to discuss treatment options.

Skin Treatments in Queens with Glendale Dermatology

If your child has chicken pox, as long as you make sure they do not scratch the itchy blisters, they should be perfectly fine and their skin should clear once the blisters have crusted off. If the child’s symptoms appear to be getting worse or not going away after 10 days, or if you are an adult in severe distress, you should contact your General Practitioner or the hospital.

If you or your child did scratch the lesions and scarring has resulted, we may be able to help reduce their appearance. Contact us for a skin consultation by submitting our online form below and we will be happy to set up an appointment to treat your chicken pox scars.

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