Chickenpox also known as varicella is a highly contagious viral infection that usually occurs in childhood. The infection is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) which is part of the herpesvirus family. Once a person is infected with chickenpox the virus stays dormant in their body and can reactivate later in life causing a related condition called shingles. But can a person get chickenpox twice? Let’s find out.
Can You Get Chickenpox Twice?
It is possible to get chickenpox twice but it is rare. Once a person is infected with the varicella-zoster virus their body develops immunity to the virus which means they are unlikely to get infected again. However in some cases the immunity may weaken over time making a person susceptible to the infection again.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) less than 3% of people who have had chickenpox can get it again. The risk of getting chickenpox again is higher in people with weakened immune systems such as those with HIV or cancer or those taking immunosuppressive medications.
Symptoms of Chickenpox
Chickenpox typically starts with a fever headache and a feeling of general illness followed by a rash that spreads over the body. The rash starts as small red bumps that quickly turn into blisters filled with clear fluid. The blisters eventually break and form scabs which fall off after a week or two. Other symptoms of chickenpox may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle aches
- Swollen glands
Treatment of Chickenpox
There is no cure for chickenpox but the symptoms can be managed with antiviral medications and supportive care. Antiviral medications can help shorten the duration of the illness and reduce the severity of the symptoms. Supportive care may include measures such as:
- Taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce fever and relieve pain
- Using calamine lotion or cool compresses to soothe itching
- Drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
Prevention of Chickenpox
The best way to prevent chickenpox is to get vaccinated. The chickenpox vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent the infection. The vaccine is recommended for children between 12 and 15 months of age and for adults who have never had chickenpox or the vaccine. The vaccine is given in two doses usually 4 to 8 weeks apart.
In addition to vaccination there are other measures you can take to prevent the spread of chickenpox such as:
- Avoiding close contact with people who have chickenpox or shingles
- Washing your hands frequently
- Covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
- Keeping your immune system healthy with a balanced diet and regular exercise
Table: Chickenpox Vaccination Schedule
|Age Group||Number of Doses||Recommended Schedule|
|12-15 months||1||First dose|
|4-6 years||1||Second dose|
|7 years or older||2||First dose then 4-8 weeks later second dose|
While it is rare to get chickenpox twice it is possible especially in people with weakened immune systems. The best way to prevent chickenpox is to get vaccinated. If you do get infected with chickenpox there is no cure but the symptoms can be managed with antiviral medications and supportive care