Chickenpox happens to be more common among young children and is generally rare among adults. This raises the question of how likely adults are to contract chicken pox and how chickenpox is related to a condition that’s more common among adults, Shingles. What is known is that the varicella-zoster virus causes both infections.
Q) Many of us suffer from Chicken Pox as children. We spend two weeks in bed trying not to scratch ourselves to death and then it’s gone. But what about those who never had Chickenpox?
A) Adults who never contracted the infection as children are likely to fall victim in adulthood.
Q) Can Chickenpox be more severe in Adults?
A) It depends. The effects of Chickenpox, include loss of appetite, fever, headaches, tiredness, and rashes, all of which can be more taxing on the health the older we get.
Q) What is Shingles?
A) Shingles is a painful skin rash. When you contract Chickenpox, the virus remains in the body, lying dormant in the roots of nerves, and can reactivate many years later. It is unclear why the virus reemerges, but researchers think that the virus is triggered as the immune system weakens with age or in conditions of stress.
Cases of Shingles can happen at any point in one’s life. But the majority of cases are seen in those ages 60 and older. Shingles not as nearly as contagious as Chickenpox. Thus cannot be passed from person to person. But the varicella zoster virus can be spread from a person with shingles to someone who has never had chickenpox. The unfortunate recipient might develop chickenpox, but not shingles.
Q) How long does chickenpox and shingles remain contagious?
A) These infections can take anywhere from 10 to 21 days to develop after exposure to someone with chickenpox or shingles. People with chicken pox are contagious a couple of days before their rash appears and remain so until all of their blisters have scabbed. A person with shingles, however, can only spread their infection while their skin rash is still blistering. They’re not contagious before the blisters occur, and are no longer contagious once the rash starts to scab.
Q) What’s the best way to prevent chickenpox and shingles?
A) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two doses of the chickenpox vaccine — which is about 98% effective for those who have not had chickenpox.
The Shingles vaccine is recommended for those 60 and older since they are the most vulnerable to the infection. While the vaccine cannot protect you entirely from a bout with shingles, it can make the rashes less painful and help clear them up more quickly.
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