Chickenpox and Shingles

What you need to know.


Chickenpox is caused by contact with the rash or the body fluids you transmit when you cough or sneeze from the infected person. It is a highly contagious disease, becoming contagious only two days before the rash appears. If you think you may have chickenpox please alert your doctor before coming to the doctor's office. That way you and your doctor can do your best to prevent the spread of the virus.

Chickenpox normally lasts from around five to ten days with any mixture of the following symptoms. Fever, headache, loss of appetite, generally feeling unwell, and an extremely itchy rash. Those above are the extra joys of chickenpox, you will get three stages of bumps (chickenpox) during those five to ten days. First pink or red bumps break out, second fluid filled blisters form on your body, then lastly, the blisters turn into cuts and scabs that take days to heal.

For the most part, doctors tell patients to let the virus run its course. Of course that can be a very painful and uncomfortable course, so the following suggested may help. Zovirax and IGIV ( if prescribed), Calamine lotion, or cool oatmeal baths may help with itching. Never give anyone ( adult or child), aspirin for it may cause them to have Reye's Syndrome.

Chickenpox can be about 90% prevented by the Chickenpox vaccine. With the vaccine, even if you do get Chickenpox, it will be a less severe case. Children are able to get their first dose starting at 12 months of age. If you work with children, live with children, or aren't vaccinated/immune you are at risk of getting Chickenpox.

In the 1990's, four million people caught chickenpox, with 10.5 to 15 thousand of them hospitalized and 100 to 150 of them died each year in the United States. Now that we have the vaccine, 3.5 million people don't get Chickenpox each year. Of those people, 9 thousand aren't hospitalized and 100 people don't die each year in the United States.


Shingles comes from the same virus as Chickenpox, it's the part that's left over in your body and lies dormant for years. Shingles may never show up, but for one in three people it will. You have to get Chickenpox in order to have Shingles. Shingles is also contagious, but it spreads Chickenpox!

There is no cure for Shingles, it will eventually go away. There is a slight possibility by getting the Shingles vaccine you can prevent it.

Shingles symptoms include, pain, burning, numbness, tingling, itching, red rash, and fluid filled blisters. For some people, fever, chills, headache, fatigue, achieness in general, striped blisters that wrap around one side of the torso, and possibly around the eyes, neck, or face.

After you turn 50, you are at a higher risk of getting Shingles. You can get Shingles more than once but it's very rare. There are about one to four percent of people with Shingles get hospitalized and around 96 people die from Shingles each year in the United States.


Causes and transmission are the same for children as for adults. Direct contact and body fluids. Some prevention for children is, washing your hands often and keeping other children away from the sick child. Children should also remain home from school until all blisters are healed.

Pregnant women are more at risk of developing Chickenpox than others. Chickenpox could result in birth defects in unborn babies, although Shingles will not harm them. The mother of the baby will spread on her immunity to the baby while he/she breast feeds from the mother.

To help with the symptoms the suggested may help, patting instead of rubbing blisters, cool baths every three to four hours, cold bland food, no salty or acidic food, and possibly giving your kid acetaminophen regularly. To help with itching, put gloves or mittens on your hands and cut your finger nails.

Signs of Chickenpox include multiple pimple or bug bite looking bumps and common cold symptoms. Chickenpox start on the back, face, or abdomen, then spread to pretty much everywhere else. In very rare cases serious infections can occur in the lungs, skin, brain, bone, and joints.


Vaccines are the best protection since 1995 and are widely used around the world. There are two types of vaccines, Varivax and ProQuad. Varivax is for people 12 months and older and ProQuad is for people 12 months to 12 years. There is also a Shingles vaccine recommend for people 60+.


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