Chickenpox Vs Measles: Pinpoint Comparison and Differentiation

Learn From Doctor Team
Learn From Doctor Team is made up of well-qualified doctors of different fields with brilliant academic results and professional careers. The article is written and reviewed by doctors of this specialty.

Chickenpox vs Measles Overview

Chickenpox vs measles is a common query, people often misunderstood them. Measles and chickenpox both are virus-borne diseases and infectious. Measles caused by the measles virus and chickenpox caused by the varicella-zoster virus. German measles is known as rubella.

For young children, measles can be dangerous and even fatal. Despite the fact that mortality rates have been declining globally as more children undergo the measles vaccine, the disease nevertheless kills over 100,000 people per year, the majority of which are children under the age of five.

Measles hasn’t been dangerous in the United States for more than a decade, thanks to high vaccination rates.

The varicella-zoster virus causes chickenpox, which is a highly infectious infection. It mostly affects children, but it may also affect adults. A super-itchy skin rash with red blisters is the telltale sign of chickenpox. The blisters pop and begin to leak over the course of several days. After that, the crust and scab before eventually healing.

Since coming into contact with someone who has the virus, symptoms occur 10 to 21 days later. Most people are back to normal after about two weeks.

Chickenpox is usually a mild illness, especially in children. Blisters can spread to your nose, mouth, eyes, and even your genitals in extreme cases.

Chickenpox vs Measles Comparison Chart

Traits Chickenpox Measles
Latent Period 10-21 days 10-14 days
Infectious Period Up to two days until the rash develops, then until  spots scab cover 4 days before the rash develops then 4 days afterward
Rash Itchy, red rash Non-itchy flat rash
Fever Present Present
Runny Nose Absent Present
Throat Sore Absent Present
Coughing Absent Present
Conjunctivitis Absent Present
Koplik’s spots Absent Present
Vaccination Available Available

Chickenpox vs Measles Signs and Symptoms

Chickenpox vs Measles
Image credit: medicalnewtoday

Symptoms of Chickenpox

Chickenpox infection produces an itchy blister rash that occurs 10 to 21 days after exposure to the virus and lasts about five to ten days. The following signs and symptoms can occur one to two days before the rash:

  • Fever
  • Appetite loss
  • Mild headache
  • Ill health(tiredness/weakness)
Chickenpox vs measles
Chickenpox In Adult
Chickenpox vs measles
Chickenpox in baby

The chickenpox rash goes through three stages once it appears:

  • Papules (raised pink or red bumps) that occur for many days
  • Vesicles are tiny fluid-filled blisters that form in about a day and then crack and leak.
  • Crusts and scabs form on top of the broken blisters and take several days to heal.

You may have all three stages of the rash — bumps, blisters, and scabbed lesions — at the same time when new bumps continue to appear for several days.

Before the rash emerges, you will contract the infection in other people for up to 48 hours, and the virus stays infectious until all broken blisters have crusted over.

In healthy children, the disease is usually mild. The rash may cover the entire body in extreme cases, with lesions forming in the throat, eyes, and mucous membranes of the urethra, anus, and vagina.

Symptoms of Measles

Around 10 to 14 days after exposure to the virus, measles signs and symptoms begin to appear. The following are common measles signs and symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Dry coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Throat irritation and sore
  • Conjunctivitis(Eye inflammation)
  • Koplik’s spot- Bluish-white circular spot with red base in the buccal region of mouth opposite of 1st and 2nd upper molar teeth.
  • Skin rashes are large and often connected
Chickenpox vs measles
Measles in adult women
Chickenpox vs measles
Measles in baby

Over the course of two to three weeks, the infection progresses through a series of stages.

Incubation & Infection

The measles virus can stay latent for 10 to 14 days after you’ve been bitten. During this time, you show no signs or symptoms of measles. But in this period you can spread the virus.

Associated Symptoms

Measles is characterized by a mild to moderate fever, as well as a frequent cough, runny nose, inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis), and a sore throat. This short-term illness could last two to three days.

Period of Acute Illness

Illness with a rash. Tiny red dots, some of which are slightly elevated, make up the rash. The skin appears splotchy red due to patches of spots and bumps. Rashes appear first on the face.

The rash spreads down the limbs(arms) and torso over the next few days, then over the calves, lower legs, and feet. At about the same time, the fever increases rapidly, reaching temperatures of 104 to 105.8 degrees Fahrenheit (40 to 41 C). The measles rash fades with time, starting on the face and ending on the thighs and feet.

Infectious Period(Period of communicability)

An individual with measles will spread the virus to others for eight days, beginning 4 days before the symptoms appear and ending four days after the rash appears.

Chickenpox and Measles Causes

Causes of Chickenpox

A virus(Varicella zoster) triggers chickenpox infection. Direct contact with the rash may cause it to spread. When a person with chickenpox coughing and sneezing and you inhale the air droplets, it can spread.

Chickenpox vs measles
Varicella Zoster Virus

Causes of Measles

Measles is a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that replicates in an infected baby’s or adult’s respiratory tract. When a person with measles coughs, sneezes, or speaks, infected droplets escape into the air, where they can be inhaled by others.

Infected droplets can also fall on a surface and stay active and infectious for many hours. After touching an infected surface, you can catch the disease by bringing your fingers in your mouth or nose, or rubbing your eyes.

Chickenpox vs measles
Measles Virus

When exposed to those who have the virus, about 90% of the total of those who are susceptible will become infected.


Chickenpox and Measles Risk Factors

Risk Factors of Chickenpox

If you haven’t had chickenpox or haven’t had the chickenpox vaccine, the chances of being infected with the varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox are higher. Vaccination is particularly necessary for people who work in daycare or child education.

Chickenpox immunity is common in people who have had chickenpox or who have been vaccinated against it. If you’ve had the vaccine and still have chickenpox, the effects are usually milder, with low blisters and a low to no fever. Chickenpox may be contracted more than once by a few individuals, but this is uncommon.

Risk Factors of Measles

  • You have a much higher chance of contracting measles if you haven’t had the vaccine.
  • You’re more prone to developing measles if you fly to developing nations where the disease is more prevalent.
  • Vitamin A deficit is a condition in which the body lacks the vitamin A, required for the proper functioning of the body. You’re more likely to have much more serious medical complications if you don’t get enough vitamin A in your daily diet.

Chickenpox & Measles: Who is at risk of getting infected by


  • Infants and newborns whose mothers have never had chickenpox or administered the vaccine
  • Adults and teenagers
  • Female who are pregnant and have never had chickenpox
  • Chain smokers
  • Immunocompromised persons
  • People who are undergoing steroid drugs for a different illness or disorder, like asthma.


  • Young children that have not been vaccinated are at the greatest risk of contracting measles and its complications, which can include death.
  • Pregnant women who have not been vaccinated are also at risk.
  • Anyone who is not resistant (either because they have not been vaccinated or because they have been vaccinated but have not developed immunity) can become infected.

Measles is still widespread in many developing countries, particularly in Africa and Asia. The vast majority of measles deaths (more than 95 percent) occur in countries with low per capita incomes and inadequate health facilities.

In countries that have recently experienced or are recovering from a natural disaster or war, measles outbreaks can be especially deadly. Overpopulation in residential camps significantly raises the risk of infection, and disruption to health facilities and services interrupts regular immunization.

Chickenpox and Measles Complications

Complications of Chickenpox

Chickenpox is usually a minor illness. However, it can be risky and lead to complications such as;

  • Infections and in soft tissues, skin, bones, joints.
  • Sepsis
  • Dehydration and its features
  • Pneumonia
  • Cerebral encephalitis
  • Shock
  • Reye’s syndrome
  • Death

Complications of Measles

  • Ear infection including Otitis Media
  • Bronchitis & Laryngitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Encephalitis
  • Pregnancy complications

Chickenpox vs Measles Prevention

Prevention Strategy for Chickenpox

The best way to avoid chickenpox (varicella) is to get vaccinated. Almost 98 percent of individuals who got both of the therapeutic amounts of the vaccine are fully protected against the virus. Though the vaccination does not offer full immunity, the incidence of chickenpox is greatly reduced.

The vaccine is recommended for;

  • Kids in their early years. In the United States, infants receive two shots of the varicella vaccine as part of their routine pediatric vaccination schedule, the first between the ages of 12 and 15 months and the other between the ages of 4 and 6 years.

While the vaccine may be paired with the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, the combination may raise the risk of fever and seizures in some children aged 12 to 23 months. Through your child’s doctor, explore the advantages and disadvantages of combining the vaccines.

  • Older children that have not been vaccinated. Children aged 7 to 12 years who have not been vaccinated must receive two varicella vaccine doses at least three months apart. Children aged 13 and up who have not been vaccinated should receive two additional doses of the vaccine at least four weeks apart.

Children aged 13 and up who have not been vaccinated should receive two additional doses of the vaccine at least four weeks respectively.

  • Adults that have never had chickenpox and are unvaccinated are at a high risk of infection. Health-care providers, teachers, child-care workers, foreign visitors, military members, adults who live with small children, and all women of childbearing age fall under this category.

Adults who have never had chickenpox or been vaccinated receive two vaccine doses four to eight weeks apart.

A screening test will assess your immunity if you don’t know whether you had chickenpox or the vaccine.

The chickenpox vaccine is not recommended in the following conditions;

  • In pregnancy
  • Immunocompromised persons
  • Those who are allergic to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin should avoid it.

If you’re not sure if you need the vaccine, talk to your doctor. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, check with your doctor to make sure you’re updated with your vaccines before you start trying to conceive.

Chickenpox vs Measles
Vaccine for preventing Chickenpox and Measles

Prevention Strategy for Measles

Vaccination of measles in infants

Doctors typically send the first dose of the vaccine to children between the ages of 12 and 15 months, and the second dose between the ages of 4 and 6 years.

Please remember the following;

  • If your child will be 6 to 11 months old when you go overseas, speak to his or her doctor about receiving the flu vaccination sooner.
  • If your kid did not receive the two doses at the prescribed times, he or she will need two vaccine shots four weeks apart.

Adults should have the measles vaccine.

Since you’re an adult, you can need the flu vaccination if you;

  • Has a greater chance of measles, such as going to college, moving abroad, or working in a hospital, because you don’t have evidence of immunity. Written evidence of the vaccines, as well as lab reports of immunity or prior disease, are examples of proof of immunity.
  • If you were born in 1957 or later and don’t have evidence of immunity, you’re in trouble. Written evidence of the vaccines, as well as lab reports of immunity or prior disease, are examples of proof of immunity.

Consult your doctor if you’re not confident if you need the measles vaccine.

Few Last Words

Chickenpox and Measles both are vaccine-preventable diseases. We should vaccinate our children along with us. Both of the diseases can be serious and fatal. So, in any hesitation consult with a doctor.

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Last Updated on February 23, 2022 by Learn From Doctor Team

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