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Difference Between Measles and Chickenpox

Measles vs Chickenpox

Childhood illnesses are very common. All of us underwent many of them. In some parts of the world, they can be suppressed due to the cold or hot or rainy climate while some cannot be tolerated. Some viruses can thrive well in hot climates,while some cannot thrive in cold and wintery areas.

Two of the most common childhood illnessess are measles and chickenpox. What can be the differences? Let us find out.

Measles is caused by the virus called paramyxovirus. This type of virus is single-stranded and enveloped. Chickenpox is cause by the virus called varicella zoster virus or VZV.
Measles is also called rubeola, and chickenpox is also known as varicella.

Measles and chickenpox are both airborne diseases. When children usually have this, they are advised not to go to school until lesions are dry and crusting in chickenpox and until the measles is not already communicable. Patients admitted into the hospital are placed in private rooms in order to seclude them from the public.

Methods of transmission include sneezing, coughing, and inhaling the air of the room in which they are placed. The incubation period of measles is 14 days. The infectivity period is at two to four days before and until the rash appears. With chickenpox, the child is infectious one to two days prior to the appearance of the rash and will go on for five days more until there is crusting of lesions. For someone who contracted the virus, the infected person will have the chickenpox after 10 to 21 days post-exposure.

The classical symptoms of measles are: cough, coryza, and conjunctivitis. Coryza is also known as a runny nose while conjunctivitis is also known as red eyes. The best diagnostic signs for measles are Koplik spots which are located inside the mouth. For chickenpox, the manifestations are fever, headache, and, most importantly, rashes. The pathognomonic sign is vesiculopapular lesions.

There is no treatment for measles. There are only supportive measures for fever. Usually, analgesics are given when there is fever plus rest. Aspirin is never given as this will cause Reye’s syndrome among children. There are also no treatments for chickenpox. When there is itching of the rashes, calamine lotion can be applied. As much as possible, the child should stay in a cool place since the sweat and heat can aggravate the rashes.

Vaccines are available for measles and varicella.


1. Measles is caused by paramyxovirus while chickenpox is caused by varicella virus.
2. Measles and chickenpox are both airborne diseases.
3. Measles can incubate for 14 days in the body while chickenpox takes 5 days to
incubate and heal.
4. The diagnostic sign for measles are Koplik’s spots while in chickenpox are
vesiculopapular lesions.
5. There are no treatments for both but only supportive management of the symptoms.

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