Shingles in Children – The Symptoms and Causes

When you get chickenpox, your body is affected both inside and outside regardless of your age. You experience stomach pains, sore throat, flu, headache, and fever. What’s more, you get an extreme rash all over your entire body. The good news is once you get chickenpox, you will not get it a second time. The bad news is that you will possibly develop shingles. A secondary infection caused by the same virus that caused chickenpox.

Being infected by chickenpox puts you at risk of having shingles. However, shingles are often diagnosed in adults over 50 years, although cases of children having shingles have been documented. If a baby was infected before reaching a year old, or if the mother had been infected by chickenpox during pregnancy, he or she has a greater chance of having shingles at an early age, while healthier children are less likely to have shingles until they grow up. A possible explanation is that shingles affect people that have weakened immune systems.

The virus that causes chickenpox, also known as varicella zoster remains inside the body of the infected person even after he or she has recovered from the chickenpox. It stays dormant inside the nervous system. It then reactivates as a different virus, herpes zoster, the virus responsible for shingles. How and why this happens is still a mystery to scientists and doctors.

Like chickenpox, shingles symptoms appear as very painful rashes; however, the similarity ends there. The rash only “runs” along the nerves that house the virus, and not all across the entire body. It starts as reddish bumps that eventually turn to blisters. Over a few days the blisters turns dry and crusty. This is accompanied by a continuous and intense pain. Children with shingles do not usually feel any other symptoms related to chickenpox such as fever and headaches.

Shingles usually does not last more than a couple of weeks, but the discomfort caused by it is very hard to ignore. Some recommend taking pain relievers to deal with the pain. While relatively non-threatening, special care must be taken if the rash occurs around the eyes and the nose to avoid any major complication.

People with shingles are not advised to go to school due to its contagious nature. Although shingles itself can not be directly transmitted from person to person, chickenpox can still be transmitted to other children. Tests show that the vaccine for chickenpox does not prevent shingles in children.