Specific Complications Of Chickenpox
Aside from itching, the complications described below are usually rare.
Intense itching is the most common complication of chickenpox. It can be very distressing, particularly for small children. Many home remedies can help relieve the discomfort. It is important not to scratch the scabs because this can lead to scarring.
Bacterial Skin Infections
In some cases, a secondary bacterial infection may develop at sites that were scratched. If the skin around the scab becomes red, swollen, or warm, this may be a sign of a secondary bacterial infection. If you or your child develops these symptoms contact your health care provider because in rare cases, serious bacterial complications can occur.
Varicella pneumonia is an uncommon but serious complication of chickenpox. It usually develops 1 to 6 days after the chickenpox rash appears. Fever and cough may be signs of varicella pneumonia. Pregnant women, people who are immunocompromised, and smokers are at increased risk for this lung complication.
Encephalitis and Meningitis
Encephalitis and meningitis are rare but serious neurological complications of chickenpox. Meningitis is inflammation of the lining of the spinal cord and brain. Encephalitis is the inflammation of the brain itself. Signs and symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light
In encephalitis, seizures and coma can occur. Meningitis and encephalitis are very serious conditions that require immediate medical treatment.
Are Chickenpox And Shingles Serious Illnesses
The symptoms may be more severe in newborns, persons with weakened immune systems, and adults. Serious problems can occur and may include pneumonia , brain infection , and kidney problems. Many people are not aware that before a vaccine was available, approximately 10,600 persons were hospitalized, and 100 to 150 died, as a result of chickenpox in the U.S. every year.
Theres Also A Vaccine For Shinglestwo Actually
Since 2006, older adults have been vaccinated with Zostavax, which aimed to prevent those who had chickenpox from falling ill with shingles too. In 2017, the FDA approved a new two-dose vaccine called Shingrix that’s thought to be more effective. “I’m hoping we see even less shingles as people get the new, stronger vaccine,” Dr. Parsons says.
You can still get shingles after being vaccinatedjust like with the flubut if you do, the vaccine usually decreases the severity of the illness, Dr. Parsons adds. With a generation of children growing up who aren’t getting chickenpox and have antibodies against the virus because they’ve been vaccinated, it’s possible shingles will become even more rare. “We shouldn’t see much, theoretically,” she says. The CDC recommends all healthy adults get vaccinated against shingles after their 50th birthday. Just be sure to get your two doses two to six months apart.
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How Can I Prevent Getting Shingles
Prevent your children from getting shingles later in life by getting them immunized with the chickenpox vaccine. As an adult the best way to not get shingles is to get the shingles vaccine. The shingles vaccine is safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get the disease. When you get immunized with the shingles vaccine you help protect others from chicken pox.
People with shingles can prevent spreading the virus by covering their rash, not touching or scratching the rash and washing their hands often.
Im Pregnant And Have Had A Blood Test For Chickenpox What Do The Results Of This Test Show
The blood test can show that you:
- Are immune and have no sign of recent infection. You have nothing further to be concerned about.
- Are not immune and have not yet been infected. You should avoid anyone with chickenpox during your pregnancy.
- Have or recently had an infection. You should discuss what the risks are for your stage of pregnancy with your healthcare provider.
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What Do The Results Mean
If you have symptoms and results show VZV antibodies or the virus itself, it’s likely you have chickenpox or shingles. Your diagnosis of either chickenpox or shingles will depend on your age and specific symptoms. If your results show antibodies or the virus itself and you don’t have symptoms, you either once had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine.
If you are diagnosed with an infection and are in a high-risk group, your health care provider may prescribe antiviral medicines. Early treatment can prevent serious and painful complications.
Most healthy children and adults with chickenpox will recover from chickenpox within a week or two. Home treatment can help relieve symptoms. More serious cases may be treated with antiviral medicines. Shingles may also be treated with antiviral medicines as well as pain relievers.
If you have questions about your results or your child’s results, talk to your health care provider.
Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.
Who Should Not Have The Shingles Vaccine
You should not have the shingles vaccine if you’ve had a serious allergic reaction in the past to a previous dose of the shingles vaccine, or to any of the ingredients in the vaccine, or to a previous dose of varicella vaccine.
If you have a weakened immune system a GP or practice nurse will assess which vaccine is suitable for you. Discuss any health concerns with the GP or practice nurse before you have the vaccine.
Zostavax is not suitable for people who have a weakened immune system due to a condition, treatment or medicine.
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Can There Be Complications From Shingles
An active shingles infection usually lasts between two and six weeks, but there can be serious and long-term complications.
The most common long-term complication of shingles is postherpetic neuralgia , which can last for years, Koslap-Petraco said. Patients with PHN experience pain at the rash site after the rash clears. The pain may be severe and may last for months or even years. Fortunately, only 10% to18% of shingles patients develop PHN, although the risk increases with age.
Other severe shingles complications can arise if the shingles rash is on your face. A shingles rash that develops near the eye can cause a condition called ophthalmic shingles, or “eye shingles, which, if untreated, can cause lasting vision damage. Other symptoms of eye shingles can include pink eye, facial swelling and blurry vision.
Who Should Get Shingrix
Adults 50 years and older should get two doses of Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months. Adults 19 years and older who have or will have weakened immune systems because of disease or therapy should also get two doses of Shingrix. If needed, people with weakened immune systems can get the second dose 1 to 2 months after the first.
You should get Shingrix even if in the past you:
- Received varicella vaccine
There is no maximum age for getting Shingrix.
If you had shingles in the past, Shingrix can help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific length of time that you need to wait after having shingles before you can receive Shingrix, but generally you should make sure the shingles rash has gone away before getting vaccinated.
Chickenpox and shingles are related because they are caused by the same virus . After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in the body. It can reactivate years later and cause shingles.
Shingrix is available in doctors offices and pharmacies.
If you have questions about Shingrix, talk with your healthcare provider.
* A shingles vaccine called zoster vaccine live is no longer available for use in the United States, as of November 18, 2020. If you had Zostavax in the past, you should still get Shingrix. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best time to get Shingrix.
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Risk Factors For Shingles
Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk for shingles later in life. Certain factors increase the risk for such outbreaks.
The Aging Process
The risk for herpes zoster increases as people age. Postherpetic neuralgia is persistent nerve pain and is the most common severe complication of shingles. The risk for PHN also increases after age 50.
Chronic medical conditions that weaken the immune system increase the risk for shingles and for getting shingles at a younger age. These conditions may include:
- Cancer, especially Hodgkin disease and lymphomas, and treatments such as bone marrow transplant.
- Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and inflammatory bowel disorders.
- Type 1 diabetes and chronic kidney disease.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.
Sometimes, the drugs used to treat these conditions suppress the immune system and increase the risk for shingles. Drug treatments that may increase risk include:
- Immune suppressing drugs used for treating autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Crohn disease, and ulcerative colitis. These medications include disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs , steroids, and biologic drugs such as tumor necrosis factor inhibitors.
- Immune-suppressing drugs given after organ or bone marrow transplantation.
- Prednisone and other corticosteroids if they are used for extended periods of time.
- Protease inhibitors used for treatment of AIDS.
Home Remedies For Chickenpox Relief
Chickenpox is uncomfortable and unpleasant, but most cases in children are relatively mild and resolve within 7 to 10 days. If you or your child has been exposed to chickenpox, contact your health care provider. In otherwise healthy people who have a low risk for complications, home remedies can help provide relief from itching and fever.
- Oatmeal baths can help relieve itching.
- Calamine lotion can help dry out blisters and soothe skin.
- Acetaminophen can help reduce fever.
- Antihistamines may relieve severe itching and aid sleep.
Most important, do not scratch! Scratching the blisters can cause scarring and lead to a secondary infection.
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What Problems Can Happen
Most cases of shingles heal on their own, with or without treatment, and won’t lead to any other problems. In rare cases, shingles can lead to complications, including:
- Ongoing pain : Damaged nerve fibers in the skin send confused messages to the brain, leading to pain. Pain can go on for a long time after the shingles rash is gone. This is the most common shingles complication.
- Vision problems: Shingles near or in an eye can lead to vision loss.
- Skin infections: A shingles rash can become infected with bacteria, leading to impetigo or cellulitis.
- Nervous system problems: Shingles on the face can involve different nerves that connect to the brain. This can lead to nerve-related problems such as facial paralysis, hearing problems, and problems with balance. In very rare cases, shingles can lead to encephalitis .
How Do I Get The Shingles Vaccination
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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Will There Be Any Side Effects From The Shingles Vaccination
There are 2 shingles vaccines: Zostavax and Shingrix .
With both vaccines it’s quite common to get redness and discomfort at the vaccination site, headaches and fatigue, but these side effects should not last more than a few days. See a GP if you have side effects that last longer than a few days, or if you develop a rash after having the shingles vaccination.
Read more about the shingles vaccine side effects.
Why You Cant Get Shingles But You Can Still Get Chickenpox
Shingles are a reactivation of the same virus that caused chickenpox. Therefore, you need to have had exposure to VZV earlier in life.
Chickenpox tends to be more prevalent in children and is transmitted very quickly through groups. Even so, its still a real risk for adults. Chickenpox is a highly infectious disease that can spread to about 90 percent of unvaccinated household contacts of a person who has it.
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Shingles And Chickenpox Are Caused By The Same Virus
It’s called the varicella zoster virus, and you usually come into contact with it during childhood. That’s when chickenpoxor varicellais most common. It’s characterized by an itchy rash of pink blister-like bumps scattered all over the body, and it often causes fatigue, fever, and other common symptoms of a viral infection.
Once you’ve had chickenpox, the varicella zoster virus hangs around in your body. “The virus will hide there for many, many yearsand then we see it show up as shingles in some people,” says Margaret E. Parsons, MD, a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. Reactivated, the virus affects the nerves, creating a painful red rash.
Can You Prevent Shingles
The good news is that a two-dose shingles vaccine can significantly reduce your risk of getting shingles, or lessen the severity of symptoms if you do get it. Even better news is that since 1995, a vaccine for children that protects them against chickenpox will continue to reduce the nationwide incidence of shingles in years to come. If you dont get chickenpox, you cant get shingles, Koslap-Petraco said.
Currently, getting the highly effective shingles vaccine is your best protection against shingles. The CDC recommends that everyone age 50 and older get two doses of the shingles vaccine, two to six months apart. You can get the vaccine even if you don’t remember whether you’ve had chickenpox. Even if you did receive the chickenpox vaccine as a child and have never had chickenpox, it is still recommended that you get the shingles vaccine.
The vaccine is generally available at pharmacies and through many healthcare providers . Payment options may include Medicare, Medicaid, private health insurance and vaccine assistance programs. Check your health insurance policy to see what kind of coverage you have or discuss the options with your HCP.
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Is It Possible To Have Shingles Without Having Chickenpox
Hi. I am 29 Yes old. I am diagnosed with shingles for a week now. I still wonder how I get shingles I never had a chickenpox ever. Is it possible to have shingles without having chickenpox? A year ago I was diagnosed with bells palsy. Is there any connection between the two? Is it possible to have chickenpox without any symptoms?
1 like, 4 replies
Posted 4 years ago
You dont have to have chicken pox to get shingles, you only have to have the virus.
I couldnt figure why I got shingles as I never had chicken pox, the doctor told me that I must have been in contact with it and of course I was when my children were ill with it. In fact, apart from a cold, shingles was the first illness I had and that was aged 50 odd.
Posted 4 years ago
Thanks Steve. If that is your case then I guess we are no different. I remember I had been in contact with a girl at work who had chickenpox last year. After a few weeks, I had Bell’s Palsy. I had a feeling that the Bell’s Palsy incident is connected to her chickenpox virus and so is my shingles.
Posted 4 years ago
Hi sheila24138. I never had chickenpox. Not that I remember. Even my parents told me that I never had chickenpox. That’s why I was shocked when the doctor said I have shingles as I know you get it from chickenpox.
When To Seek Medical Advice
Shingles is not usually serious, but you should see your GP as soon as possible if you recognise the symptoms. Early treatment may help reduce the severity of your symptoms and the risk of developing complications.
You should also see your GP if you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system and you think you have been exposed to someone with chickenpox or shingles and haven’t had chickenpox before.
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Risk Factors For Chickenpox
Chickenpox typically affects children under 10 years of age. Since the introduction of the chickenpox vaccine in 1995, the number of chickenpox cases has dramatically declined.
Chickenpox usually occurs in late winter and early spring months. It is typically airborne transmitted, but it can also be transmitted from direct contact with the open blisters associated with either chickenpox or shingles.
A person with chickenpox can transmit the disease from about 2 days before the appearance of the spots until the end of the blister stage. This period lasts about 5 to 7 days. Once dry scabs form, the disease is unlikely to spread.
Recurrence of Chickenpox
Recurrence of chickenpox is possible, but uncommon. One episode of chickenpox usually means lifelong immunity against a second attack. However, people who have had mild infections may be at greater risk for a breakthrough, and more severe, infection later on particularly if the outbreak occurs in adulthood.
What Are The Symptoms Of Chickenpox
Symptoms are usually mild in children. But symptoms may be life-threatening to adults and people of any age with weak immune systems. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
- Fatigue and irritability one to two days before the rash begins
- Itchy rash on the trunk, face, scalp, under the armpits, on the upper arms and legs, and inside the mouth. The rash appears in several crops. It starts as flat red spots and progresses to raised red bumps that then become blisters.
The initial symptoms of chickenpox may resemble other infections. Once the skin rash and blisters happen, it is usually obvious to a healthcare provider that it is chickenpox. If a person who has been vaccinated against the disease is exposed, he or she may get a milder illness with less severe rash and mild or no fever. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
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