Are Chicken Pox and Shingles the Same Virus?


Chicken pox and shingles are caused by the same virus: the varicella zoster virus, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The two diseases have somewhat different symptoms, and chicken pox typically occurs in children, while shingles more often occurs in adults.

When people recover from chicken pox, the varicella zoster virus remains dormant but can manifest as shingles many years or decades later, explains the CDC. Shingles usually begins as a painful rash on one side of the face or body. The rash develops into blisters that scab over within seven to 10 days, while chicken pox blisters typically scab over in no more than seven days.

Chicken pox is highly contagious and can easily be transmitted to others who have not had chicken pox, advises WebMD. Shingles is not transmitted from one person to another; it only develops in patients who have previously had chicken pox. If someone who has never had chicken pox is exposed to someone with an active shingles infection, the exposed individual may develop chicken pox, according to Time.