Can You Still Spread Chickenpox Years Later? Expert Insights

Can You Still Spread Chickenpox Years Later? Expert Insights
Published on, 04 June, 2024. Answered by Dr. Anna Chacon and Verified by Dr.Galen Team
Patient Question

Hello Doctor,

About 17 years ago, I had chickenpox, and thankfully, I got better. But I'm curious, could I still pass on that virus to someone else, especially through kissing, who has never had chickenpox before?

Answered by Dr. Anna Chacon


Thank you for reaching out to Dr. Galen. Please find the below response to your query.

As a dermatologist, it's important to provide accurate information regarding contagious diseases like chickenpox. Once an individual has fully recovered from chickenpox, they are typically no longer capable of spreading the virus to others through any means of contact, including kissing. Allow me to elucidate further on this matter.

Following the resolution of chickenpox, the Varicella Zoster virus, responsible for the ailment, enters a dormant phase within the body. This dormancy signifies that the virus remains present within your system but does not render you contagious to others. However, it's crucial to acknowledge that there exists a possibility of the virus reactivating later in life, resulting in a condition known as shingles, or Herpes Zoster.

Shingles itself is not directly transmissible from one person to another. However, during the blister phase of shingles, the virus can be transmitted through direct contact with the rash. This poses a risk primarily to individuals who have never contracted chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine. Exposure to the virus during this phase may lead to the development of chickenpox in susceptible individuals, rather than shingles.

To summarize, if you have successfully overcome chickenpox approximately 17 years ago and are currently in good health, the likelihood of transmitting chickenpox to others is significantly reduced. Nonetheless, in the event of a shingles outbreak, it's imperative to exercise caution, particularly around individuals who may be more vulnerable to complications from chickenpox, such as pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.

In conclusion, maintaining awareness of your health status and adhering to precautionary measures can help mitigate the risk of spreading contagious diseases to susceptible individuals. Should you encounter any further concerns or require additional clarification, do not hesitate to seek professional medical advice.

Best Regards,


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