Chickenpox vs. Shingles—What’s the Difference?


Chickenpox and shingles are two infectious diseases that are caused by the same virus known as herpes-zoster virus (HZV). As a result, they are often mistaken for each other. While they may have the same symptoms, they are not the same condition.

Zoster virus can be transferred from one person to another through coughing and sneezing or via direct contact with an infected skin lesion. It commonly occurs in schools, because of the high volume of students touching each other. This virus can affect adults too and it is usually more severe than those in healthy children.

The common symptoms that occur in children are:

  • Blistering rash
  • Fever [1]
  • Headache [2]

The first time you get infected with the zoster virus, you have chickenpox. This condition begins as a fever or being weak. Then you begin to have sores in your body. These sores begin to show red bumps on the skin and progress to blisters. They can be slightly uncomfortable or very itchy. Chickenpox can also lead to other conditions such as swelling of the brain and infection of the lungs (pneumonia) [3].