What Are the Potential Negative Effects of Chicken Pox in Adults?


Quick Answer

Adults with chicken pox are more likely to require hospitalization or have a fatal outcome than children, explains the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. Pregnant women also risk birth defects if they contract chicken pox within the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. People who have compromised immune systems also risk additional complications or serious illness.

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The most common serious complication of chicken pox is bacterial superinfection of the skin with group A streptococcus, according to the New York Times. This infection is usually mild, but if it spreads to the fat or bone, it can cause life-threatening toxic shock syndrome or necrotizing fasciitis.

Adults are also more likely to develop serious pneumonia than children, notes the New York Times. Pregnant women, smokers and already unhealthy adults have the greatest chance of developing pneumonia and may require oxygen treatment. There are also very rare chicken pox complications, such as blood clots in the hands and feet, encephalitis, meningitis, and stroke. Once adults have chicken pox, they can also contract shingles at any time.

To avoid contracting chicken pox, eligible adults should take two dosages of the chicken pox vaccination, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If they contract the illness, their doctors may prescribe antiviral medications, such as acyclovir, valacyclovir and famciclovir, to lessen the risk of complications.

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