Chicken pox in adults

A friend and I were talking about how we each had hchicken pox as adults. I’d always heard chicken pox was unbearably itchy, but in my case, there was no itch but nearly unbearable pain. I’d tell myself to just get through that minute, then just get through the next minute, and so on. I assumed the pain was due to having it as an adult, but my friend said she had no pain, just insane itching. She suggested that perhaps I’d actually had shingles, but I had evenly-distributed pox from my scalp to my toes and every symptom of chicken pox except the itching. Also, I hadn’t had chicken pox before.

I didn’t go to the doctor because I had no health insurance at the time.

I can’t find anything about painful chicken pox. Was I just an anomaly? (Wouldn’t be the first time.) Or is adult chicken pox more likely to be painful than itchy? Do children get chicken pox that’s painful instead of itchy? Why would chicken pox be itchy for some people and painful in others?

Obviously at this time, I’m merely curious.

That you know of. You could have had it when you were little and not been bothered enough to know. When I got it, I only had a couple of lesions and that was that. (I gave it to my older siblings and they had it much worse) I’m no expert on it, but the pain definitely sounds like shingles.

I had chicken pox as an adult and as a child. My sisters gave it to me when I was 7 and then I caught it again a few years ago from my youngest son.

I was worried that it must be shingles as everyone knows you can’t catch it twice, so I went to my GP. She told me that it’s not common, but you can in fact get it twice. A combination of mutations in the virus and a reduction in antibodies over the years. This is new and improved chickenpox!

As a kid I just had a fever and lots of itching. As an adult, some itching and a huge heap of aching. It felt like every bone in my body had been smashed with a hammer.

Excellent points.The timing certainly seemed suspicious, though. I’d spent hours rocking a sick little girl who, it turned out, had chickenpox. Two weeks later–boom. Also, the first symptoms were fever and a sick feeling, followed by pox that were evenly distributed all over my body and not in the “belt” associated with shingles. The pox weren’t in clusters, either. When Mom had shingles, hers were clustered in a reddish band around her waist.

Yet shingles hurts and chicken pox doesn’t. Go figure.

Thanks for the reply!

Your autoimmune disorder might also have had something to do with how it affected you (if it was pox you had).

This is what the NHS says:


I had chickenpox when I was 12.

It was so painful that the doctor prescribed a Tylenol/codeine mixture. That’s the only time in my life that I’ve used anything stronger than OTC pain medication.

I had it at 24.

Itchy, fever, but not pain. The only pain was in the… sensitive regions.

Dealing with the resultant scabs was more irritating, however.

Even if you get chickenpox as a child, you can still get shingles as an adult. It is caused by the same dormant virus and is much, much more painful. It is a very common infection especially among very old people. There is a vaccine for it however and I recommend that everyone over 50 get it. Shingles has caused people to commit suicide. The virus stays in your body even after the chickenpox fades but it is still there and reactivates when many people get into older age sometimes causing debilitating pain and symptoms.

I had chicken pox as a child. While I was not an adult, I did have pain. Itching and pain. I had lesions all over, including in my mouth and on my throat as well as all over my scalp. My scalp hurt the most.

It was miserable.

I had it when I was 7 or 8. I think I was in 1st grade. Mine was a pretty mild case. I itched a little but not too bad. My brother and sister got it next, and they both got it worse than I did.

My father had shingles twice, so it is indeed possible.

Having chicken pox as a child doesn’t make you immune to shingles – exactly the opposite. That’s mainly how you get it.

Another thing about shingles. Even though that “girdle” location is a giveaway, you can get it elsewhere. My auntie had it on her face.

All this is very enlightening. I’m sorry anyone has had to suffer through chickenpox. I don’t now which would be worse, agonizing itching or agonizing pain. I guess those who’ve had shingles after itchy chickenpox could tell us.

Maybe the lupus was at play. I can’t find anything on it making chickenpox painful, but it does seem to make shingles more likely. (I paid for the vaccine several years ago, as docs said it was a must.) I wasn’t diagnosed with lupus then, but it makes sense that inflammation could turn itch to pain.

I really was pretty sick and probably should have gone to the doc, but we were poor that year and had no health insurance, so that was out of the question. My then-husband talked to a pharmacist who recommended calamine lotion. It didn’t really help, but playing connect the dot with it was a distraction.

I got it at 15 and it was unbearably itchy. Our GP said he had never seen a worse case. It lasted about 2 weeks.

I know someone whose shingles was in an eye. Very painful.

When I got it, I had a cast on my arm and I was complaining that it was itchy underneath the cast. When they removed the cast, they saw a lesion there. I remember it being pretty annoying having an itch that you couldn’t do anything about.

I had shingles on my neck, my shoulder and under my arm. It’s not always in a girdle place. It hurt so bad I thought of jumping off a bridge. I was on a strong narcotic and I still hurt. Now I have post-herpatic neuralgia, for the rest of my life, probably.

Oh, my God. That makes me itch just thinking about it. Shudder

Holy crap, the gift that keeps on giving. I’m so sorry. That sounds like hell on earth.

When my mom had shingles, friends kept telling her–in that helpful way people have–about people who lost their sight due to shingles on the eye or who committed suicide due to the pain. I believe it. What a horrible, nasty virus.

The worst thing is that the doctor told me it was itchy because I hadn’t been able to wash my arm while the cast had been on. Yeh, right.