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Shingles and Chickenpox (Varicella-Zoster Virus)

  • Highlights

    Chickenpox Vaccine Recommendations

    The CDC recommends the following chickenpox (varicella) vaccination schedules for:

    • Children ages 12 months - 12 years. All healthy children should receive their first chickenpox shot at age 12 - 15 months and a second shot at age 4 - 6 years (preferably before entering pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, or first grade).
    • Adolescents and Adults ages 13 years and older. All healthy teenagers and adults who have never had chickenpox or the vaccine should receive 2 doses of the varicella vaccine, given 4 - 8 weeks apart.

    Shingles Vaccine Recommendations

    The shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine (Zostavax) is now approved for adults age 50 years and older with healthy immune systems. It was originally approved in 2006 for adults age 60 years and older. In March 2011, the FDA lowered the recommended age for the vaccine.

    Home Remedies for Chickenpox Relief

    Chickenpox is uncomfortable and unpleasant, but most cases are relatively mild and resolve within 7 - 10 days. In otherwise healthy people who have a low risk for complications, home remedies can help provide relief from itching and fever.

    • Oatmeal baths can help relieve itching.
    • Calamine lotion can help dry out blisters and soothe skin.
    • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help reduce fever.
    • Antihistamines may relieve severe itching and aid sleep.

    Most important, don’t scratch! Scratching the blisters can cause scarring and lead to a secondary infection.