Why Do You Get Chicken Pox Just Once But Colds Many Times?

When you get sick, your white blood cells fight the harmful germs with special germ killers called antibodies.

White cells manufacture antibodies for each particular sickness, so if you have chicken pox, your white blood cells make chicken pox antibodies.

After you are recovered, these antibodies stay in your blood and keep killing any chicken pox viruses that get into your body. That is why you can’t get chicken pox twice.

You have become immune to it.

In the same way, when you get a cold from a cold virus, your body makes antibodies to fight that particular cold virus. You can never get a cold from that particular kind of virus again.

However, since there are more than 200 different kinds of viruses that can cause colds, a new cold virus can enter your body and you will not have antibodies in your blood to fight it.

Then you will get another cold.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

25 thoughts on “Why Do You Get Chicken Pox Just Once But Colds Many Times?”

  1. No, you can’t get chicken pox more than once. Shingles is caused by the same virus (herpes zoster), but shingles is a completely different disease than chicken pox. As far as the common cold goes, there are actually more than 400 different kinds of virus than can cause the common cold. Once you’ve had a cold caused by one particular virus, you are immune to that virus… but there are still hundreds more viruses out there that you are NOT yet immune to. That’s why you can catch “a cold” more than once.

  2. How big do the chicken pox spots get? I think my son has them and they are about dime size or bigger.

  3. well i was wondering i have 2/3 spots on my back and stomoch the coulor white and is it chicken pox even though i have already had them?

  4. That is not true. You can get chicken pox again, it is not called shingles, but is called chicken pox. I have a very low immune system and have had it 3 times – documented. So it is a wives tale when they say you can’t get chicken pox more then once,

  5. It is possible to get chicken pox more than once. I was under-educated on the subject until I had to get my shots for nursing school. I had not had the varicella shot (the shot that prevents chicken pox) because I had had the disease as a child. I got documented proof that I had had chicken pox as a child and it was still not enough. I had to either have the shot or have blood drawn to prove that I could not get the disease. I had the blood drawn, thinking it was cheaper and would just prove what I already knew. Turns out, even after having the disease I was not immune to it. After the $56 Varicella Titer I ended up also having to get the $88 Varicella Vaccination anyway.

  6. There are always exceptions to every rule…most “healthy” people will not get a virus a second time…immunodeficient people that have problems with that part of their bodies function are the exceptions…just like a CF patient can’t digest their food…where as “normal” people can.

  7. Once you are cured, your body will retain immunity towards this specific virus, so that you will never get infected by the ‘same’ virus.

    But that is where the catch lies, because viruses mutate (change form). So, while the same type of virus cannot affect you again, once it mutates into another form, you can get infected with the same illness but not usually the exact same one you had before.

    That is the problem with AIDS…it mutates before the body has time to build up the anitbodies thus, it is never defeated.

    To protect yourself, it is important to remain healthy to keep your immune system functioning well.

  8. You can get chicken pox more than once,this article should be removed from the net or corrected.My 12yr old has them for the second time,granted her immune system is weak due to medications BUT her uncle,who is healthy and hardly ever catches even a cold,has chicken pox also and its his second time,and no,he doesnt have shingles.

  9. To those of you who doubt, yes, you can get chicken pox more than once. You can also get shingles, but shingles is NOT the same thing as a second case of chicken pox. Chicken pox and shingles are caused by the same virus, but they are different. (Even the Centers for Disease Control states on its website that you can get chicken pox more than once, though it is uncommon.)

    My thirty-five year old best friend was just diagnosed with her THIRD case of chicken pox today. She had it when she was seven, then had it again in 2008 while her immune system was weak due to an extended serious illness. A month after the chicken pox cleared up, she had a case of shingles! (We can always count on that sort of thing happening to her! She often beats the odds in bad ways…) And now, chicken pox again (not shingles).

    So there you have it: repeat cases of chicken pox. For whatever reason, some people simply don’t form the correct antibodies on occasion.

  10. Shingles and chicken pox are two separate diseases caused by the same virus. Shingles is not simply “getting it more than once.” Someone who has had chicken pox can get shingles, or in rare cases they can get chicken pox itself again. Any reputable medical site confirms this, like the CDC, the UK’s NHS, the Mayo Clinic…check your facts, and you’ll find out it’s true.

  11. You can get the chicken pox up to 4 times. Its extremely rare to get it more than twice, but I have them for the 4th time now. I hate it.

  12. I had chicken pox 3 times. I’m a nurse and I’m always checked to see if I maintained immunity. After the injection I’m checked again in 6 months. Nothing..no immunity. I also had measles 5 times in my life,..no immunity. My 26 yr.old daughter just came down with Shingles which is very rare at her age, but she seems to catch everything. There are exceptions to every rule. Never rule out something just because you read it on the internet. Go to the doctor!

  13. hi i had chicken pox when i was a young child and just had a test for the antibodies (i am aged 31) and it has come back negative, so yes some people do not keep the antibodies in them that prevent repeat infections but other do not and so can get the same virus several times as their body does not keep hold onto the antibodies.

  14. Yes you sure can get Chicken Pox more than once. I had it as a child , then I had shingles 8 months ago (and it hurts a lot) , now I have just been diagnosed with chicken pox today which is so annoying. Otherwise I am a healty fit 59 YO.

  15. I have had chicken pox twice, once at age 5 and again at age 13. I almost died the second time. I am not immune to it, so much so that I CAN NOT be vacinated for it and CAN NOT come into contact with any one who has it, or any one who has shingles, or anyone who has come into contact with any one who has either chicken pox or shingles.

  16. Why is it the chicken pox virus never leaves the system causing the Shingles?
    From what I know about the cold virus there are three groups group A, B, & C. Unlike the chickent pox virus that is made with a DNA (double helix), the cold virus is made with RNA (single helix) and therefore it mutates and eventually it mutates to a form that the body never seen before and therefore you can get it again because the body does not have antibodies for this mutated virus.

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