Can You Get Chickenpox Twice?

Chickenpox, medically known as varicella, is a viral infection characterized by the development of an itchy rash with fluid-filled blisters. It is a contagious condition, especially for people who have not been vaccinated against it or never had it in the past. Before the introduction of chickenpox vaccination, it was quite common for people to have it by the time they reached adulthood. Today, not many people get it, thanks to chickenpox vaccination, but many people still have questions about this condition. One important question is, "Can one get chickenpox twice?” Keep reading to learn more about this viral condition.

Can You Get Chickenpox Twice?

Generally, people get chickenpox only once in a lifetime mainly because they develop immunity once they become affected. But rarely, chickenpox can happen twice:

  • In rare cases, you can get it again, especially if you were very young when you had it for the first time.
  • Moreover, you are likely to develop it again if you have a weak immune system.
  • Quite interestingly, some people think they have had chickenpox in the past but that might only be a rash, so they think they have developed chickenpox twice, if they get real chickenpox later.

Chickenpox and Shingles

You need to understand that the chickenpox virus stays in your body even after the disease has been cured, usually in the roots of nerves and can reactivate decades later in people, for example, with a weakened immune system. There are cases when people who have had chickenpox develop another condition called shingles, which develops when the chickenpox virus becomes active once again. Shingles is not nearly as contagious as chickenpox is, but the virus causing both infections can infect a person who has never had chickenpox.

What Causes Chickenpox?

Although you have known the answer to “Can you get chickenpox twice?” it is important to understand exactly what causes it in the first place. The varicella-zoster virus is responsible for causing this infection. You usually develop chickenpox when you come into contact with an infected person. The virus is contagious even several days before blisters appear and stays contagious until all the blisters are gone. The virus usually spreads through coughing, saliva, sneezing, and direct contact with blisters.

Risk Factors

The risk of becoming infected comes down through vaccination or immunity passed from mother to newborn. Remember that you are more likely to contract infection if you have had contact with someone who has chickenpox, you are under 12, or you have spent time in a childcare facility or school. You may also develop this condition if your immune system is weak due to other illnesses or medications.

How to Know If You Get Chickenpox

You already know the answer to your question, "Can you get chickenpox twice?" so the next big question is, "How can you confirm you have chickenpox?" The classic symptom of chickenpox is rash. But 1 or 2 days before the appearance of rash, you may experience loss of appetite, fever, headache and tiredness.

Then the rash will start to appear and here are the changes you will experience:

  • First there are raised red or pink bumps which break out in a few days. Then these bumps turn into small fluid-filled blisters which can break and leak in just one day. At last, you will eventually develop crusts and scabs that cover the broken blisters and take a few days to heal.
  • You will continue to have new bumps for several days. It means you can have bumps, blisters, and crusts at the same time on the second day of the rash. In some cases, the rash spreads and covers the entire body. There may also be lesions in the eyes, throat, and mucous membranes of the anus, urethra and vagina.

Seek Medical Help

You should consult your doctor as soon as you suspect your child has chickenpox. Your doctor will examine the rash and check other symptoms to confirm whether it is chickenpox or not. Be sure to inform your doctor if:

  • The rash gets to one or both of the eyes.
  • Rashes become very red, tender or warm, which can be a secondary bacterial skin infection.
  • Rashes occurs with fever over 102 °F, disorientation, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, tremors, shortness of breath, vomiting, worsening cough, stiff neck, or loss of muscle coordination.
  • There are family member with immune deficiency or under 6 months years old.

How to Deal With Chickenpox

Can you get chickenpox twice? Yes, you can, but it's really rare. Normally, if you have had chickenpox in the past, you develop immunity to the virus for life. But you have to know how to fight the first battle to gain that immunity. Here's how to do:

1. Avoid Scratch

It is not easy to resist the temptation, but it is important to avoid scratching because it slows healing and even leads to infection. Make your child wear gloves at night and keep their fingernails trimmed to avoid scarring.

2. Alleviate Itchiness

  • Add baking soda, colloidal oatmeal, or uncooked oatmeal to bathtub and make your child soak in it for a while to find relief from itching.
  • You can also soothe itchy skin by using unscented lotion and putting on soft, lightweight clothing.
  • Antihistamines also help relieve itching, but talk to your doctor before giving antihistamines to your child.

3. Take Antiviral Drug

Your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs if you have developed certain complications from the infection or if you are one of the higher risk patients. People who are very young, are very old, or have underlying medical conditions are high-risk patients because they are vulnerable to the side effects of chickenpox. These drugs do not cure chickenpox but they really help make symptoms less severe. They also boost immune system to help accelerate recovery.

4. Other Methods

  • Apply calamine lotion on the spots for pain relief.
  • Give your child a soft, bland diet if they have developed sores in the mouth.
  • Give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen for a mild fever.
  • Infected person should stay at home, kid out of school and daycare and adult off work and social life for days, to prevent spread of the virus.
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