Difference Between Chickenpox and Shingles (With Table)

The disease is a particular medical condition that can adversely affect the structure and function of all the organisms or the parts of the organism. Diseases are of many types with specific symptoms and signs. The disease can be of two categories: Communicable and non-communicable. Chickenpox and Shingles are of two categories with some exceptions.

Chickenpox vs Shingles

The main difference between Chickenpox and Shingles is that Chickenpox is not very severe and generally affects children, whereas Shingles happens after the reactivation of the Chickenpox virus. Even after recovery, the Chickenpox virus stays in the body for long, whereas the Shingles virus does not stay anymore after recovery.

Chickenpox is also known as varicella and is characterized by red itchy blisters all over the skin of the body. Chickenpox often occurs in children. Generally, chickenpox does not affect the same individual more than once in a lifetime.

While, Shingles generally affect the individual who has a history of Chickenpox infection even decades prior. Shingles are painful rash all over the skin. These rash are blisters filled with fluid and usually turns red. These rash take 7 to 10 days to dry out and form a crust over the affected area of the skin.

Comparison Table Between Chickenpox and Shingles

Parameters of ComparisonChickenpoxShingles
Tenure of the diseaseLasts for 7 to 10 days.Lasts for 72 hours or more.
Transmission Type It is communicable and contagious. It is non-communicable but contagious.
Vaccine Varicella vaccine. Shingrix vaccine.
Causative Virus Varicella virus. Varicella-zoster virus.
Age Group OccurenceIt affects mainly during childhood. It affects during adulthood or mainly the ones who have had chickenpox earlier.

What is Chickenpox?

There is no clear evidence to show derivation of the term chickenpox yet. Chickenpox is a comparatively mild disease. There has been a declaration of chickenpox being related to chickpeas, and the study was based on the similarity of the cavity shown in chickpeas, or it could transfer from the rashes in correspondence to chicken pecks. Primary chickenpox is a global infection i.e., it occurs in all the countries of the world. Chickenpox mainly occurs in the temperate countries and mostly among children.

Most of the cases of chickenpox are reported during the winter and spring season, generally because of school contact. Chickenpox is one of the most common diseases which occur in childhood, and most of the cases affects children of the age group of 15. Chickenpox frequently occurs in older/aged people in the tropical regions of the world and causes more serious diseases. The pockmarks get darker and the scars become very prominent in adults as compared to children.

The preliminary or early symptoms of chickenpox seen in most teens and adults are loss of appetite, headache, feeling nauseous, fatigue and muscle ache. After these signs, the major symptoms occur which are characterized by oral sores or rash, uneasiness, and low fever that denotes the presence of the chickenpox virus. In children, the disease generally has the initial signs of chickenpox as formation of the rashes in the oral cavity. The rash begin as red tiny dots and can be seen on the body, back, scalp, upper legs, face and arms. People are advised to stay at home while an individual is contagious to prevent the spreading of the disease to anyone else.

There are vaccines to prevent an individual to get affected by this virus. The vaccine to prevent chickenpox is the varicella vaccine, the spreading of the chickenpox virus can be prevented or stopped by keeping the affected individuals in quarantine. Infection is caused by subjection or inhalation of respiratory drops, or can be due to direct contact with scrapes. This phase can last from three days before the actual onset of the lesion, and is usually followed by four days after the beginning of the rash or lesion.

What is Shingles?

Shingles are also very commonly known as herpes zoster. Shingles are also caused by the same varicella virus as that of chickenpox. It generally affects individuals who have had a history of chickenpox, as the chickenpox virus stays in the body for 50 years even after getting cured of it. Varicella-zoster can act on the arteries which are present in the head and nape. This is the basis of causing stroke during childhood, and even after several years of the dormancy period. Shingles can result in serious issues such as hearing loss, eye vision problems and rarely catalepsy or also known as African sleeping sickness.

Shingles rashes have blisters filled with fluid that can easily break. These rashes are red and very itchy. Doctors advise the patients affected with shingles to avoid touching or itching the rashes, failing which can cause permanent dark spots all over the body and face. Some of the signs and symptoms of Shingles are chills, headache, fever, fatigue and weakness of the muscles. Severe symptoms include red rashes, pain, hearing loss, loss of taste and dizziness.

Shingle is a non-communicable disease, but the virus causing shingles i.e., varicella-zoster can cause it to spread to an unaffected individual, who never have had chickenpox. An individual can’t get shingles from someone affected with shingles, but they can get chickenpox through the contagious virus.

Shingles can be prevented by prior vaccination. The vaccine recommended by CDC for shingles is the Shingrix vaccine. Shingles can be treated 72 hours or 3 days after acquiring. Eating food rich in vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin E can help in lowering the effect of shingles at home.

Main Differences Between Chickenpox and Shingles

  1. Chickenpox generally occurs in children, whereas Shingles are common in adults.
  2. Chickenpox is a mild infection, whereas Shingles is a very severe infection.
  3. Chickenpox is caused by the varicella virus, whereas Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus.
  4. Chickenpox is can be prevented by the varicella vaccine, whereas Shingles can be prevented by the Shingrix vaccine.
  5. Chickenpox has red rashes with mild pain, whereas Shingles have red rashes filled with a fluid having severe pain.

Conclusion

Chickenpox and Shingles both are an infection of the same virus. Chickenpox is comparatively less severe than Shingles but more contagious than Shingles.

Chickenpox can transfer the disease chickenpox itself to an unaffected individual but Shingles cannot transmit Shingles, as it is non-communicable. But Shingles can transmit Chickenpox to individuals who were never affected by the virus, as it is contagious. Maintenance of essential precautions can avoid the diseases.

References

  1. https://search.proquest.com/openview/da913416942f5064c54f74bc6765e017/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=2042228
  2. https://academic.oup.com/aje/article-abstract/161/10/929/104809
  3. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1006/bulm.1999.0126
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