Chicken Pox and Shingles – How Are They Linked?

Chicken Pox and Shingles and How Are They Linked?

Shingles is the herpes zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes varicella zoster, also known as chicken pox. If you have had chicken pox, the virus remains dormant in your body but can reactivate again later in life.   Most people are not affected by shingles until after the age of 50.

Who is at Risk for Shingles?

Anyone who has had chicken pox or is not immune to chicken pox is at risk for developing shingles. Older individuals with weakened immune systems due to other medical conditions, or high stress levels, are more likely at risk.

What Are the Symptoms of Shingles and Are They Contagious Like Chicken Pox?

Shingles is a rash with fluid-filled blisters that can crust over as they heal, similar to how hives may appear. They can cause pain, itchiness, burning and are sensitive for anywhere from 7 – 10 days.  The rash usually appears before any pain begins. Some individuals may also experience additional symptoms such as a headache, sensitivity to light or a fever. Additionally, more severe cases could cause postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) which may last weeks or months.

You cannot get shingles from someone with shingles.  However, if you have had contact with the open blisters to someone with shingles and you have not had chicken pox yourself, you can catch chicken pox which may later lead to shingles.

How Can You Prevent and Treat Shingles?

The best prevention for shingles is getting vaccinated for chicken pox, if you have not yet had it. Or, if you’re 50 and above, you can be administered a shingles vaccine.

There are two types of shingles vaccines available.  The live, one-dose vaccine called Zostavax can prevent shingles by up to 51 percent and the non-live vaccine, Shingrix (a two-dose vaccine) is 91 percent effective in preventing the virus. It is best to speak with a pharmacist or physician on which vaccine may be best for you based on your current health conditions.

Palm Beach Neurological Center treats Post Herpetic Neuralgia, which is of damaged nerve endings as a result of having shingles. For more information on this condition or the other neurological conditions we treat, please contact Palm Beach Neurological Center at 561-694-1010 for more details.

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