Shingles and chickenpox are both viral infections that cause painful rashes, and they have affected the humankind for centuries. Though these conditions are not life-threatening, both can be difficult to deal with and can result in permanent discoloration and scarring.
While chickenpox and shingles have almost entirely different symptoms, they have a much closer relationship than most people may think. Here’s a guide to understanding the link between shingles and chickenpox.
Chickenpox is a considerably pervasive condition that results in outbreaks of rashes on the entire body. Chickenpox is more common among children, but anyone who has not had chickenpox can become infected at any age. People who are over the age of 50, those with an autoimmune disease, and pregnant women are at a higher risk of getting chickenpox.
Chickenpox can be transmitted relatively easily as the virus that causes the infection is airborne, which means it can be passed on via coughing, sneezing, and physical contact with rashes. Chickenpox is rarely life-threatening, but it can lead to complications such as pneumonia and hepatitis, especially in adults. The good news is that there is a chickenpox vaccine available.
Shingles causes a painful rash, typically in the shape of a strip on one side of the body. Shingles outbreaks take up to 3-4 weeks to heal and are often accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as fever, headaches, and fatigue.
Unlike chickenpox, shingles generally affects adults aged 50 and older, especially those with a weakened immune system. Though shingles, just like chickenpox, is not deadly, it is a painful condition that can result in long-term complications without proper care and treatment.
The Connection Between Shingles and Chickenpox
Shingles and chickenpox are a result of the same viral infection known as varicella zoster. With treatments, people who get infected with the virus and have a chickenpox outbreak can only suppress the virus, not eliminate it. Hence, the virus remains dormant in the nerves until it gets triggered again and resurfaces as shingles.
There is a shingles vaccination that even those who have had an outbreak of chickenpox or shingles before can get to prevent future outbreaks, which is especially recommended to those over the age of 60.
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