Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Can You Get Shingles If You Have Had Chickenpox

Can I Get Shingles After Having Chicken Pox

VZV – Clinical Presentation of Chicken Pox and Shingles

Unfortunately, yes. Anyone who has had chicken pox and recovered can develop shingles. This is because both conditions are caused by the same virus. And once you’ve been infected, that same virus — varicella-zoster — can enter your nervous system. Fortunately, it can remain dormant there for years at a time, and potentially for your entire life! That means not everyone who had chicken pox as a child will develop shingles later on, though it’s certainly possible. When the virus does reactivate, it travels along neural pathways and makes its way to the surface of your skin, which results in the shingles skin rash. The reason that shingles often develops later in life is unclear, but it’s thought to have something to do with a reduced immunity to infections that comes with age. That being said, it’s also possible for young adults and even children to develop shingles after having chicken pox.

What Are Signs And Symptoms Of Shingles

Signs and symptoms of shingles typically occur over one side of the face or body and may include:

  • Pain, which can vary in intensity
  • Burning sensation, numbness or tingling, and itching
  • Raised red rash, which usually appears a few days after pain
  • Multiple blisters, which appear in a stripe pattern and may contain fluid

The Relationship Between Shingles And Chickenpox

Shingles and chickenpox are two separate infections. However, they do have a linked relationship.

The same virus, varicella-zoster, causes both shingles and chickenpox. This is because after contracting and recovering from chickenpox, your body does not eliminate the virus. Instead, it lies inactive in the nerves of the body.

After some time, this virus may reactivate within the nervous system. This causes shingles. Certain triggers may cause the virus to become active again and result in shingles.

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Risk Factors For Adults

Youre at higher risk for contracting chickenpox if:

  • you live with unvaccinated children
  • you work in a school or childcare space
  • you spend more than 15 minutes with an infected person
  • youve touched the rash on a person who has it
  • youve touched something a person with chickenpox has used recently

Youre at higher risk of experiencing complications from chickenpox if:

  • youre pregnant and have never had chickenpox
  • your immune system is impaired
  • youre on steroid medication

When adults develop chickenpox, they may notice flu-like symptoms before the rash. Adults actually may have stronger a reaction to chickenpox than children.

The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases says adults are 25 times more likely to die from chickenpox than children. Therefore, its extremely important to talk with a doctor to see how you can protect yourself from chickenpox if youve neither been vaccinated nor exposed.

There are a couple of things to consider before pursuing the shingles vaccine.

How Do I Get The Shingles Vaccination

Shingles and Shingrix, Everything People Need to Know

Once you become eligible for the shingles vaccination, a GP or practice nurse will offer you the vaccine when you attend the surgery for general reasons.

You can have a shingles vaccine at the same time as most other vaccines. But try to leave 7 days between the shingles vaccine and a coronavirus vaccine, so that if you have any side effects you’ll know which vaccine they were from.

If you are worried that you may miss out on the shingles vaccination, contact your GP surgery to arrange an appointment to have the vaccine.

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What To Know About Shingles And The Chickenpox Vaccine

The chickenpox vaccine is not causing a surge or epidemic of shingles. In fact, in addition to reducing your children’s risk of developing chickenpox, it can likely reduce their risk of developing shingles later in life.

  • Weinmann S. Incidence and clinical characteristics of herpes zoster among children in the varicella vaccine era, 20052009. Journal of Infection Diseases. 2013 208:1859-68.

  • Hales, Craig M. Examination of Links Between Herpes Zoster Incidence and Childhood Varicella Vaccination. Ann Intern Med. 2013 159:739-745.
  • Leung J. Herpes zoster incidence among insured persons in the United States, 1993-2006: evaluation of the impact of varicella vaccination. Clinical Infectious Diseases. 2011 52:332-340.
  • Russell ML. Shingles in Alberta: before and after publicly funded varicella vaccination. Vaccine. Volume 32, Issue 47, 29 October 2014, Pages 63196324.

When Should I Seek Emergency Care For A Shingles Rash

While most cases of shingles are mild, several potential complications may require emergent care:

  • Facial rash. A shingles rash on the face is concerning because eye involvement can lead to blindness. This requires an urgent assessment from an ophthalmologist.
  • Loss of hearing or facial movement. Rarely, shingles can lead to hearing loss or facial nerve paralysis.
  • Disseminated herpes zoster. This widespread shingles rash can also affect your organs. It requires hospitalization with intravenous antiviral treatment.
  • Fever. Shingles in addition to fever can be concerning. It may mean you have a superimposed bacterial infection, which could require antibiotics and close observation.
  • Confusion or seizures. Shingles in addition to confusion or seizures could indicate brain inflammation, which requires hospitalization for IV antiviral treatment and close monitoring.

Dr. Megan Soliman is an ABMS board certified internal medicine physician whose main focus in her clinical practice is patient advocacy. Her research interests include adverse effects of medications and herbal supplements. Soliman is enthusiastic about bread and butter medicine, which includes treating patients with the most common diseases. She also has a passion for reaching underserved communities, including both U.S. and international rural communities.

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Who Can Have The Shingles Vaccination

Shingles vaccination is available to everyone aged 70 to 79.

When you’re eligible, you can have the shingles vaccination at any time of year.

The shingles vaccine is not available on the NHS to anyone aged 80 or over because it seems to be less effective in this age group.

Read more about who can have the shingles vaccine.

Chickenpox Is Itchy But Shingles Is Painful

What to know about Chickenpox

Despite sharing a viral cause, the two conditions have decidedly different symptoms.

A chickenpox rash starts out with pink bumps that become more blister-like. The bumps are usually all over the body and itch like crazy. “You also feel like you do when you have a cold or fluyou just really don’t feel good,” Dr. Parsons says. Your eyes might get watery, your body might ache, and you could spike a fever.

A shingles rash, on the other hand, looks more like a fever blister, Dr. Parsons says, and the bumps are usually clustered in groups of three to nine pink lesions. Once they blister, they ooze, then eventually dry out and crust over. A shingles rash is also usually in a band that wraps around a part of the body, like across one shoulder and down your arm, or covering your butt and down your leg, Dr. Parsons explains. The lesions crop up in spots related to where the nerves are that are inflamed by the virus. And because shingles affects the nerves, the pain may feel like burning or even start before the rash appears, she adds.

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Also Check: How To Keep From Getting Shingles

Can You Get Shingles More Than Once

Although possible, its rare to experience shingles more than once. In a 2019 study , researchers found the reoccurrence rate of shingles was 5.3 percent over an average of a 4.4-year follow-up period.

The researchers found that experiencing shingles that lasted more than 30 days significantly increased the risk of reoccurrence. Other risk factors were:

  • being 51 to 70 years old
  • having shingles lasting longer than 90 days

Where Does Shingles Come From

When you have chickenpox as a child, your body fights off the varicella-zoster virus and the physical signs of chickenpox fade away, but the virus always remains in your body. In adulthood, sometimes the virus becomes active again. This time, the varicella-zoster virus makes its second appearance in the form of shingles.

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What Should I Do About An Exposure To Varicella

If you have been in contact with someone with chickenpox or shingles, or if you have a rash-associated illness that might be chickenpox or shingles, discuss your situation with your healthcare provider. Blood tests may be done to see if you have become infected with the virus or have had the disease in the past. If you are pregnant and not immune and have been exposed to chickenpox or shingles, call your healthcare provider immediately. Your provider may choose to treat you with a medication called varicella-zoster immune globulin , but in order for this medication to be most helpful, it needs to be given as soon as possible after your exposure to varicella.

Not Everyone Who Has Chickenpox Ends Up Developing Shinglesbut You Can’t Get Shingles If You Didn’t Have Chickenpox First

Check if you have shingles

It’s not entirely understood why some people go on to get shingles while the virus lies dormant in the bodies of countless others. Around one in three American adults develop shingles. It’s more common among folks over 70, people with weakened immune systems due to other health conditions or medications, and people under high amounts of stress.

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Can You Get Shingles If Youve Never Had Chickenpox

You can only get shingles if youve previously had chickenpox. After a chickenpox infection, the virus stays in your nervous system. If the virus becomes reactive again, it leads to shingles. The first time youre infected with the virus it leads to chickenpox.

Vaccines are now widely available to protect against chickenpox and shingles. Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to prevent both before they develop.

Can Shingles Be Prevented

The FDA has approved the Shingrix vaccine to prevent shingles. Shingrix is a newer vaccine recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that is 90% effective in preventing shingles. The vaccine is given in 2 doses 6 months apart.

As a recombinant vaccine, it is created by altering and purifying DNA that codes for a shingles virus antigen. This antigen produces an immune response to fight the virus.

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Why Are Shingles So Painful

Postherpetic neuralgia occurs if your nerve fibers are damaged during an outbreak of shingles. Damaged fibers can’t send messages from your skin to your brain as they normally do. Instead, the messages become confused and exaggerated, causing chronic, often excruciating pain that can last months or even years.

What If Ive Never Had Chickenpox

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Almost everyone born before 1980 tests positive for exposure to varicella, Orrange said. Thats why the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices considers people born before 1980 immune to the varicella virus. Even if you never broke out in the telltale rash, if youre 38 years old or older, you almost certainly have the virus lying dormant in your system.

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Who Is At Risk For Getting Shingles

People who have had chickenpox who are more likely to develop shingles include those:

  • With a weakened immune system .
  • Over the age of 50.
  • Who have been ill.
  • Who have experienced trauma.
  • Who are under stress.

The chickenpox virus doesnt leave your body after you have chickenpox. Instead, the virus stays in a portion of your spinal nerve root called the dorsal root ganglion. For the majority of people, the virus stays there quietly and doesn’t cause problems. Researchers aren’t always sure why the virus gets reactivated, but this typically occurs at times of stress.

How To Avoid Adult Chickenpox

Getting vaccinated against chickenpox is the best way to avoid chickenpox infection so you wont have shingles later in life. While a vaccine doesnt provide complete immunity to chickenpox, it can limit the severity of symptoms should you get infected.

Vaccinating children early lowers the risk of a chickenpox infection significantly. The two-dose vaccine is typically administered at about 15 months of age and then again at around 4 to 6 years of age.

If youre older than 13 and have never had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine, you can still get vaccinated. The process involves two doses, at least 28 days apart.

It can be tough to avoid getting a chickenpox infection from someone with chickenpox, because people with chickenpox are contagious from one to two days before the rash appears until the lesions scab over. The virus is spread through direct contact with fluid from the blisters, breathing in aerosols of the blister fluid, and possibly also by respiratory secretions.

If youve never had chickenpox, you should also avoid contact with anyone who has shingles. In shingles, the virus can be transmitted through direct contact with fluid from the blisters. It only can do this while the rash is present, and the person remains contagious until the blistering rash crusts over.

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You Can Get Shingles Multiple Times Sadly

The virus can go into hiding again, only to rear its ugly head down the road. “It just goes and hides in the nerve root again,” Dr. Parsons explains. “For my young adult patients who get it, I’ll recommend getting the shingles vaccine sometime in the next few years.” Insurance may not cover vaccination before 50, so you’ll have to discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.

What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Shingrix

Be Aware

Studies show that Shingrix is safe. The vaccine helps your body create a strong defense against shingles. As a result, you are likely to have temporary side effects from getting the shots. The side effects might affect your ability to do normal daily activities for 2 to 3 days.

Most people got a sore arm with mild or moderate pain after getting Shingrix, and some also had redness and swelling where they got the shot. Some people felt tired, had muscle pain, a headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, or nausea. Some people who got Shingrix experienced side effects that prevented them from doing regular activities. Symptoms went away on their own in about 2 to 3 days. Side effects were more common in younger people.

You might have a reaction to the first or second dose of Shingrix, or both doses. If you experience side effects, you may choose to take over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Guillain-Barré syndrome , a serious nervous system disorder, has been reported very rarely after Shingrix. There is also a very small increased risk of GBS after having shingles.

If you experience side effects from Shingrix, you should report them to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System . Your doctor might file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS websiteexternal icon, or by calling 1-800-822-7967.

If you have any questions about side effects from Shingrix, talk with your doctor.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles

Early symptoms of shingles may include:

Other signs and symptoms that appear a few days after the early symptoms include:

  • An itching, tingling or burning feeling in an area of your skin.
  • Redness on your skin in the affected area.
  • Raised rash in a small area of your skin.
  • Fluid-filled blisters that break open then scab over.
  • Mild to severe pain in the area of skin affected.

Home Care For Shingles

Colloidal oatmeal baths are an old standby for relieving the itch of chickenpox and can help with shingles, as well. To speed up the drying out of the blisters, try placing a cool, damp washcloth on the rash If your doctor gives you the green light, stay active while recovering from shingles. Gentle exercise or a favorite activity may help keep your mind off the discomfort.

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Whats The Difference Between Chickenpox And Shingles

Adults can develop shingles if theyve already had chickenpox. Also called herpes zoster, shingles is a reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox. After you recover from chickenpox, the virus doesnt entirely disappear it lies dormant in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. When it springs into action again as a painful skin rash, thats shingles.

This time, the pain will likely come before the rash some people only experience the pain without any visible symptoms. Like chickenpox, shingles usually isnt life-threatening, but it can cause complications, including neurological problems, skin infections and eye infections that lead to vision loss.

How Can Chickenpox Be Treated

Do Adults Need to Worry About Chickenpox? | This Morning

If your child gets chickenpox, do not give him aspirin or any products that contain aspirin. Taking aspirin increases the risk of getting Reyes syndrome. This severe illness can damage the liver and brain. If you want to control your childs fever, use acetaminophen .

Taking good care of the skin and not scratching it may prevent infections that can be caused by bacteria that get into the skin. Your doctor may recommend a medication to help reduce the itch.

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Getting Vaccinated Against Chickenpox And Shingles

Vaccination is available for the prevention of both chickenpox and shingles.

Most insurance plans cover the cost of both vaccines. Medicare Part D and Medicaid may pay for at least part of the cost of shingles vaccination.

If you do not have health insurance or cannot afford vaccination, check for vaccine assistance programs directly with the shingles vaccine manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline. For chickenpox, contact the Vaccines for Children program to see if you are eligible for help.

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