Difference Between Measles and Chickenpox

Infectious diseases are a common thing among people, and out of them, to take the crown. These two are Measles and Chickenpox. Usually similar symptoms and appearance, but measles and chickenpox are different. They are caused by two different viruses that were a common childhood disease, but over the years, science found its cure through diet and vaccination. Their differences make it easy to distinguish the symptoms and the types of cure required.

Measles vs Chickenpox

The main difference between Measles and Chickenpox is that they are caused by different viruses and have a different symptom pattern that makes it easier to distinguish. The varicella-zoster virus causes chickenpox in the body, whereas the measles virus causes measles in the body, a name derivation. Both of the viruses are contagious, which means they can be spread through sneezing, coughing, or through any kind of close contact with the person suffering it.

Measles and Chickenpox

Measles usually shows its first symptom as a rash in the hairline or forehead, which is followed by its appearance in other parts of the body. Such rashes lead to fever, flowy nose, and sore throat, with often decreased appetite. Usually, 2-3 days later, after the first measles symptoms appear, the fever usually increases to between 40 to 40.56°C as such virus is as well as rising in body temperature.

Chickenpox usually spreads through inhalation of the respiratory drops that come out when a sick person suffering from it coughs or sneezes. However, it can also be spread through contact with surfaces that are contaminated or even through the ruptured blisters fluid in the body of the sick person. A person remains contagious until all their spots are scabs and begin to disappear on their own but leave scars.

Comparison Table Between Measles and Chickenpox

Parameters of Comparison Measles Chickenpox 
Caused by Measles is caused by the paramyxovirus. Chickenpox is caused by the varicella virus.
IncubationThe duration of incubation for measles is 2 weeks. The duration of incubation for chickenpox is 5-6 days. 
Symptoms Rashes on the forehead, fever, cough, and sore throat. Fever, headache, tiredness with rashes on chest and face. 
Diagnostic Signs Koplik’s spot is the diagnostic sign of measles. Vesiculopapular lesions are the diagnostic sign of chickenpox. 
Transmission Transmission occurs through sneezing, coughing. Crusting of lesions of the person who is already suffering. 

What is Measles?

Measles is considered as one of the highly infectious viruses or commonly known as the viral infection that usually affects the respiratory system of the human body. Even though it has a safe and effective vaccination to cure, it is still considered one of the big causes of death across the world. Measles is usually caused by infection through the tiny parasitic microbes called Paramyxovirus. The host cells are invaded by the virus in the body of the infected.

The Measles virus or the Paramyxovirus affects and infects the respiratory tract first in the body. Then, it gradually spreads to different parts of the body, like hands, forehead, chest, etc., through the blood in the body. However, measles is studied to occur in humans. Animals don’t tend to catch it. Measles is further divided into twenty-four known measles genetic types, where only 6 are currently occurring in the human body.

People suffering from measles can go on to spread the virus to anywhere with his, her, their, etc. approx. Spread to 9 and 18 people. The person suffering from measles remains contagious for four days before the symptomatic rash appears in the forehead and hairline. But, even after the rash appears, the infected person tends to be still contagious for another four days and so advised to avoid contact with them.

What is Chickenpox? 

Chickenpox is another highly contagious virus that is caused by the varicella virus. The symptoms of chickenpox are itchy parts of the body, blister-like rash that can crust. These rashes usually appear on the chest, back, and mostly the face. They then spread over the entire body along with the blisters. These rashes usually happen between 200 and 400, which turn into itchy blisters, which leave scars when one gets cured.

Even though it is a curable infectious disease, chickenpox can be dangerous. They tend to get serious, especially in babies and pregnant women. But they are equally dangerous for adolescents, adults, or anybody with a weak immune system. The chickenpox vaccine is the best solution to avoid or prevent chickenpox. An infected person remains contagious in the beginning for 1 to 2 days. Then, the body reacts to it, causes the onset of rashes, and reduces when all the chickenpox lesions have crusted.

It takes about 10 to 20 days for a person to develop chickenpox after they had exposure to a person suffering from chickenpox. There is also a high chance that a vaccinated person can catch the disease and spread it to others. While for most people, once they get chickenpox, it provides them immunity for life. Even though it is possible to get chickenpox more than once, but it’s uncommon.

Main Differences Between Measles and Chickenpox

  1. Measles is caused by the measles virus or Paramyxovirus, whereas chickenpox is caused by the varicella virus.
  2. The symptoms of measles are mostly fever, dry cough, and runny nose, whereas, in chickenpox, symptoms are fever, rashes on the chest and face with other parts of the body, headache, etc.
  3. The chickenpox rash starts with raised red bumps that are itchy and have fluids in them, whereas measles rash appears as red spots, but they do not have fluid in them.
  4. A person will suffer from chickenpox typically for 5 and 7 days, whereas measles infection can last over a timeframe of two to three weeks.
  5. Chickenpox is considered a mild infection yet can cause severe complications in certain risk groups. On the other hand, complications of measles sometimes include ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, etc.


Even though measles and chickenpox are infectious diseases, they differ majorly in terms of symptoms and the virus that causes them. People suffer more from chickenpox in comparison to measles, but their overall graph is spread across the world. Their similarities are uncanny sometimes, as both the diseases cause a telltale rash to develop. But their appearance of the rash differs between measles and chickenpox, which helps in a simple way to distinguish between the two diseases. Even though there is no particular treatment for measles and chickenpox, but even home management like drinking more fluids and resting helps in quick recovery from them. 


  1. https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/19452700960
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022519398908657
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