Monkeypox, chickenpox or shingles? Infectious diseases experts explain the difference


One of the distinct characteristics of monkeypox are the blisters that are concentrated on the face, hands and feet, said Dr Smitasin. “In the recent outbreak, there are many reports of rashes starting in the genital area,” he said.

According to him, they first appear as rashes or red dots, and evolve uniformly to become tense, fluid-filled blisters. The final stage is when they become scabs that eventually fall off in about one to two weeks. Sounds familiar? For those who have had chickenpox before, that might have formed a big part of your recollection.

But there are differences. For chickenpox, you may experience fever, tiredness and sore throat first. According to Dr Vasoo, a rash typically starts on the trunk and face before spreading all over the entire body. The rash then develops into itchy, fluid-filled blisters and “typically evolves in different stages” and “erupts in several ‘crops’ on different parts of the body”. It can take about one week for the blisters to scab over, he said.

“While both illnesses may cause fever and rash, swollen lymph nodes are one distinguishing feature of the prodomal period (when symptoms such as fever begin before the rash appears) of the monkeypox disease, which is not seen typically in chickenpox,” said Dr Vasoo .

Here’s a summary from Dr Smitasin on how monkeypox and chickenpox compare:


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