What Is the Difference Between Measles And Chickenpox

Sometimes, it can be difficult to distinguish measles from chickenpox since they share some similarities. But it’s important to know that they are not the same thing. And by correctly diagnosing the illness, you will know what actions to take to treat it.

What Is Measles?

Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that can be spread by an infected person coughing or sneezing. The virus also lives for up to two hours in the air, so someone can catch it by breathing the same air as someone who is sick.

If an unvaccinated person comes in contact with the airborne virus, they can develop the measles virus within four days. A person who gets the measles virus will start to develop symptoms between 10 to 14 days after contracting the virus.

The measles virus belongs to the paramyxovirus family of viruses. This type of virus is known for being highly contagious and causing a characteristic rash.

What Are the Symptoms of the Measles?

After coming in contact with the airborne measles virus, a person will develop the symptoms of measles within ten days. Most people will get measles if exposed to the virus unless they have been vaccinated.

The first symptoms of measles are usually fever and a watery, runny nose. But this first phase of the illness may last only a day or two. Other symptoms that follow may include small white spots inside the mouth (called Koplik’s spots) and a red, blotchy rash that spreads all over the body.

The rash usually begins on the face and spreads to the neck, the upper chest and back, and the rest of the body.

The measles rash usually starts two to four days after the other symptoms start. The rash usually lasts four days.

If you see the measles rash, contact your doctor as soon as possible. You may also see a cough, runny nose, white spots inside the mouth, bad headache, and a high fever.

What Is Chickenpox?

Chickenpox is a highly contagious infection that is spread by the airborne varicella-zoster virus. The virus causes an itchy rash that can lead to severe complications if it is not properly treated.

In most cases, the itchy rash will eventually go away without treatment. But since the virus spreads so quickly, it’s crucial to treat chickenpox immediately.

Chickenpox is a lot like the measles virus because they belong to the same family of viruses. Both viruses cause a similar rash and can be spread through the air.

However, chickenpox is not caused by the same virus that causes measles. The chickenpox virus belongs to the herpes family of viruses, called the varicella-zoster virus.

What Are the Symptoms of Chickenpox?

The rash of chickenpox usually begins on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. The rash usually starts around two to three days after the first symptoms of chickenpox, lasting for five to seven days.

The chickenpox rash may appear as red marks that can turn into blisters. The blisters or spots may be filled with pus. They may also begin crusting over after a few days.

A person who gets chickenpox will usually get a fever, fatigue, and a nasty headache. They may also feel pain when swallowing or have a loss of appetite.

However, the most common symptom of chickenpox is the itching from the rash. This itchy sensation causes most people to scratch the blisters, leading to complications.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the symptoms of measles and chickenpox. Measles and chickenpox are similar because they both cause a red, blotchy rash. But there are several symptoms associated with these two viruses that set them apart. And knowing the difference between measles and chickenpox can help you better understand the illness and how to treat it. 

Protect yourself from viral illnesses by getting vaccinated at Aspen Medical Center. We are a locally owned outpatient medical clinic in Santa Fe and Espanola, NM offering state-of-the-art primary care and urgent care services. Call us now to schedule an appointment!