Monkeypox vs chickenpox

With the different types of pox infections sprouting up and gaining a resurgence, people are thoroughly confused. Are the symptoms the same? Should I get vaccinated? Am I immune if I had one type of pox infection?

These are common questions that are irking the minds of thousands. However, the most confusing lies in distinguishing between monkeypox and chickenpox. Since the symptoms are fairly similar, most individuals are confused about how both of these viral infections manifest in people’s bodies.

This article will walk you through the basic difference between Monkeypox and Chickenpox and why you need to be aware of the symptoms right now.

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a type of rare viral infection that is caused by the monkeypox virus. Since the vector causing monkeypox belongs to the same family of viruses as smallpox, the symptoms are similar in both.

Before the widespread 2022 outbreak, Monkeypox was quite prevalent in the central and western African countries. However, the good news is that monkeypox is very rarely fatal. If the infected person is in good health and doesn’t have a compromised immune system, recovery is pretty quick.

What is Chickenpox?

Chickenpox is a highly contagious viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It is a contagious disease like most other types of pox infections.

Thankfully, chickenpox has vaccines to prevent it. The Varicella vaccine can effectively prevent the occurrence of the moderate disease by 95% and the severe form of the infection by 100%.

Normally, the symptoms of chickenpox manifest as itchy, water-filled blisters all over the body. The blisters are painful and leave marks on the skin even a few months after recovery.

What are the Symptoms of Monkeypox?

Since monkeypox is becoming so prevalent now, educating yourself about the symptoms is crucial. Unlike chickenpox, the monkeypox symptoms are fairly different, not just in terms of the appearance of the blisters but also in the way it impacts the physiological functions of the body.

The degree of the infection determines the severity of the symptoms. Some patients only experience a mild rash with no additional symptoms. Other patients experience a severe outbreak of rashes, paired with other painful symptoms. Some patients experience the rash outbreak first and then experience other symptoms.

That said, here’s a quick breakdown of all the Monkeypox symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Malaise
  • Muscle ache
  • Backache
  • Swollen lymph node
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • Respiratory symptoms
  • Rash all over the body

The rashes are of varying types. Some resemble blisters, and others often look like scabs before they heal and dry out. So, you need to be on the lookout for both types and take them into consideration.

If you are wondering how monkeypox spreads, it is a contagious disease that spreads from an already infected person. However, the symptoms don’t appear until three weeks after the initial exposure to the virus. An infected patient generally starts noticing flu-like symptoms first, following which the rashes pop up.

The best way to prevent monkeypox transmission is to take note of the symptoms early. Don’t take it lightly if you notice something amiss with your body. Instead, follow isolation guidelines and discuss possible testing and treatment with your doctor.

Monkeypox vs. Chickenpox – Difference in Symptoms

All the vectors that cause the different types of pox infections belong to the same family or viruses. Hence, it isn’t surprising that most people confuse the symptoms interchangeably.

There are instances in hospitals where people are coming in with a suspicion of having monkeypox but are later diagnosed with chickenpox and vice versa.

If we had to differentiate between the symptoms of monkeypox and chickenpox, the differences are quite stark. Here’s a quick rundown for you:

Type of Symptom Monkeypox Symptoms Chickenpox Symptoms
Lesions Slightly larger in size Smaller compared to monkeypox
Site of lesions Normally seen on palms, soles, and genitals Can be predominant throughout the entire body
Spread of lesions Can recur after complete healing of one lesion Self-limiting after 7-8 days
Lesion appearance Broad, Vesicular and non-itchy Vesicular and itchy
Fever duration Longer Shorter than monkeypox

 Some of the similar symptoms of monkeypox and chickenpox include swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, weakness, pain, inflammation in the body, etc.

Does a History of Chickenpox Make one Immune to Monkeypox?

“Am I immune to monkeypox if I have had chickenpox before?” This is a very common query that most people have at present.

If you have a clear idea of what is monkeypox virus, you will realize that both these diseases are caused by different viruses (despite them being of the same family).

Even the mode of transmission of both these viruses is different, meaning they manifest differently in the body. So, a previous history of chickenpox doesn’t guarantee immunity against the monkeypox virus that is spreading globally.

Does a History of Smallpox Make one Immune to Monkeypox?

The incidence and spread of smallpox were completely eradicated from the world in the 1980s. That was when the World Health Organization discontinued the administration of the smallpox vaccine.

However, current reports suggest that people with the smallpox vaccine will have a heightened immunity against the monkeypox virus.

The sudden outbreak of monkeypox has also pushed certain countries to re-start the administration of smallpox preventive treatments. This is primarily because the symptoms of monkeypox and smallpox are pretty much identical.

Since the monkeypox virus is still in its juvenile stages, doctors are currently focusing on symptom management. There is not enough data to process a possible vaccine against the disease or even medications curated just for monkeypox.


  • How can I prevent monkeypox?

Monkeypox is a communicable disease that can spread to an infected person. So, the potent tips for monkeypox prevention are to avoid coming in contact with any belongings or food of an infected person (or even animal). Constantly wash your hands with soap and water and stick to eating a healthy diet to maintain optimal immunity.

  • How does monkeypox spread?

The basic answer to “monkeypox – how it spreads” is via direct skin-to-skin contact from an infected patient. Contact with bodily fluids or infected objects like clothes, personal belongings, etc., can spread the virus too.

  • Is monkeypox deadly?

Monkeypox is not fatal, provided that the patient is in good health and their immune system is optimized. In case the symptoms get worse, it is always better to consult a doctor and consider hospitalization following the right protocols.


Is monkeypox contagious? How does monkeypox spread? What do the symptoms in monkeypox pictures appear as? These are some of the most common questions most people are struggling with at present. Since the symptoms of the pox diseases are fairly similar, distinguishing them from each other is a task.

However, if you are experiencing any symptoms or you have reports of coming in contact with someone who has tested positive for the monkeypox virus, take immediate precautions. Firstly, get tested and then follow the standard protocols suggested by the World Health Organization and your country’s Health Ministry.

Prekshi Garg is a young, dynamic, energetic, and meritorious professional biotechnologist. She is a merit rank holder in her post-graduation and a skilled bioinformatician with great zeal to do her best in neurosciences. She is currently working in the area of Neurotranscritomics dealing with neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. She has presented many papers at different scientific forums and is awarded ‘Representing the Institution in Scientific Events’ citation by Amity University Uttar Pradesh and Top position in Student Assistantship Program held at Amity University in addition to awards won for oral presentations in different scientific deliberations. Prekshi has published a good number of papers and book chapters during the start of her academic career itself. Her tremendous skills and knowledge make her a good blend of biotechnology and bioinformatics.

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