Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Adult Chickenpox

We think of chickenpox as a childhood disease but there are adult cases and they tend to lead to more serious complications.  Chickenpox is caused by the varicella virus and it is extremely contagious.  Most people are exposed in childhood (or they receive the chicken pox vaccine) and so adults rarely contract it.  It is especially dangerous for pregnant women because the fetus can become infected.  The latency period from infection exposure to disease is 10-21 days.

Some people call Shingles adult chickenpox.  Shingles (Varicella Zoster) is caused by a latent chickenpox virus that has lain dormant for years in the nerve root and rears it's ugly head later.  The cause of the reactivation of the virus is usually never found and it occurs most commonly in people over age 60.  Shingles does not spread over the skin like chickenpox and stays in one discrete nerve dermatome area.  It can be extremely painful, causing burning pain and skin sensitivity.

Shingles can be contagious to people who have never had chickenpox and exposure will cause a chickenpox (not a Shingles) outbreak.

Treatment for both adult chickenpox and shingles is acyclovir or Famvir or Valtrex.  The sooner these anti-viral medications are started, the better they work to shorten pain and time of the infection.  For information on the Shingles vaccine go here.

Photo credit to medicinenet and consultantlive


Have Myelin? said...


I got shingles for Christmas. Yay, jingle bells for shingles? Talk about PAIN. Lyrica helped.

I can't take the live vaccine since I have MS.

Chickenpox is not to be messed with.

KM said...

I got chicken pox at 22 and it was horrible. It took me much longer to get over it then the 3 year old with the mild 3 day case, compared to my week to 10 days of it.

M C said...

I'm starting an outbreak now. One of the nurses here confirmed it. My doc has started me on acyclovir yesterday. It hurts. It's right on my bra strap. It's not like I can walk around bra-less here at work. ha ha!! I wish it would go away soon... :(

Shingles Home Remedy said...

Chickenpox (caused by the varicella-zoster virus) is a highly infectious disease that usually causes an itchy red rash with blisters. It is one of the most common childhood diseases and can affect adults as well. Most people recover fully from chickenpox, but it can cause complications in children with lowered immunity and in some adults. A child with chickenpox can miss up to two weeks of school.