When Is The Shingles Virus Contagious
A person with shingles can pass it on to someone else from when the blisters form until they clear up. The fluid within the blisters contains the virus. People can transmit the virus through direct contact with the fluid from the blisters.
Anyone who comes into contact with the fluid by touching it exposes themselves to the virus. People who have never had exposure to the virus are at risk of getting chickenpox. Those who have had chickenpox are not at risk of getting shingles by exposure to someone with shingles.
If you have shingles, be especially careful around:
- pregnant people
- people with weakened immune systems
- babies under 1 year old
- people who have not had chickenpox or the vaccine
When your shingles scab over and you no longer have a fluid present from the blisters, you are no longer contagious.
How Is Shingles Spread
A person must have already had chickenpox in the past to develop shingles. A person cannot get shingles from a person that has shingles. However, the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles can be spread from a person with active shingles to a person who has never had chickenpox or had the chickenpox vaccine. The person exposed to the virus would develop chickenpox, not shingles. A person with shingles can spread the virus when the rash is in the blister-phase. The blister fluid is filled with virus particles. The virus is spread through direct contact with the rash or through breathing in virus particles that get mixed in the air. Once the rash has developed crusts, the person is no longer contagious. A person is not infectious before blisters appear or if pain persists after the rash is gone .
Is There A Way I Can Keep From Being Infected With Chickenpox
Yes, make sure all your vaccines are up to date, especially if you are planning a pregnancy. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and those you love. If you are not immune, you should be vaccinated. You will receive two doses of varicella vaccine one month apart. You should avoid becoming pregnant for at least one month after the last vaccination. Varicella vaccine should not be given to pregnant women. If you are pregnant, have your healthcare provider give you the varicella vaccine after your baby is delivered.
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Stay Away From Certain Groups Of People If You Have Shingles
You cannot spread shingles to others. But people who have not had chickenpox before could catch chickenpox from you.
This is because shingles is caused by the chickenpox virus.
Try to avoid:
- pregnant people who have not had chickenpox before
- people with a weakened immune system like someone having chemotherapy
- babies less than 1 month old unless you gave birth to them, as your baby should be protected from the virus by your immune system
What Makes Shingles So Painful
The most common complication of shingles is a condition called postherpetic neuralgia . People diagnosed with PHN have severe pain for at least 90 days after the shingles rash has cleared up. The pain can lead to a lower quality of life for many people. As people get older, they are more likely to develop PHN, and the pain is more likely to be severe.
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Precautions To Take Around People With Shingles
If youve had chickenpox or shingles before or youve received the chickenpox vaccine, you dont have to worry about getting infected yourself since youre immune to the virus. However, you dont want to unintentionally spread the virus to those whove never had chickenpox.
If youre in contact with someone with shingles, you should avoid directly touching their rash. You should also avoid touching their clothes, bedding, towels, or anything else that might have touched their rash. If you must touch these items, you should wash your hands thoroughly immediately after contact. Even if you’ve already had chickenpox, if you get the fluid from the sores on your hands, you could potentially spread the virus on accident. You could touch a doorknob and leave some of the virus behind. Wash your hands often to avoid this.
If you haven’t had chickenpox before and haven’t been vaccinated, you should avoid direct contact with shingles sores and should also avoid contact with anything the sores might have touched . Also, you should go get the chickenpox vaccine anyone 12 months or older is eligible to receive the vaccine.
Other Methods Of Prevention
Vaccines can help prevent infection in the first place. The shingles vaccine is recommended in healthy adults 60 years and older. Some research shows it is best to contract chickenpox when young to have immunity when older. The shingles vaccine does not guarantee prevention, but it will reduce the chances of infection. A person can receive the shingles vaccine regardless of whether they have had chickenpox.
Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images
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If You Get The Shingles Vaccine Does This Mean Youre 100% Protected From Getting Shingles
No. Just like most vaccines, getting vaccinated with a shingles vaccine doesnt provide 100% protection from disease. However, getting the shingles vaccine reduces your risk of developing shingles.
Even if you do develop shingles, youll be more likely to have a mild case. Also, youll be much less likely to develop postherpetic neuralgia, a painful condition that can follow a shingles outbreak.
Where Does Shingles Come From
When you have chickenpox as a child, your body fights off the varicella-zoster virus and the physical signs of chickenpox fade away, but the virus always remains in your body. In adulthood, sometimes the virus becomes active again. This time, the varicella-zoster virus makes its second appearance in the form of shingles.
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Are Chickenpox And Shingles Serious Illnesses
The symptoms may be more severe in newborns, persons with weakened immune systems, and adults. Serious problems can occur and may include pneumonia , brain infection , and kidney problems. Many people are not aware that before a vaccine was available, approximately 10,600 persons were hospitalized, and 100 to 150 died, as a result of chickenpox in the U.S. every year.
What Are The Complications Associated With Shingles
Shingles is not usually dangerous to healthy individuals although it can cause great misery during an attack. Anyone with shingles on the upper half of their face, no matter how mild, should seek medical care at once because of the risk of damage to the eye. Very rarely, shingles can lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation or death. For about one person in five, severe pain can continue even after the rash clears up. This pain is called post-herpetic neuralgia. As people get older, they are more likely to develop post-herpetic neuralgia, and it is more likely to be severe.
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What Other Problems Can Shingles Cause
Shingles can cause complications:
- Postherpetic neuralgia is most common complication of shingles. It causes severe pain in the areas where you had the shingles rash. It usually gets better in a few weeks or months. But some people can have pain from PHN for many years, and it can interfere with daily life.
- Vision loss can happen if shingles affects your eye. It may be temporary or permanent.
- Hearing or balance problems are possible if you have shingles within or near your ear. You may also have weakness of the muscles on that side of your face. These problems can be temporary or permanent.
Very rarely, shingles can also lead to pneumonia, brain inflammation , or death.
How Is Postherpetic Neuralgia Treated
Treatments include lotions or creams and/or other medications not specifically used for pain, such as antidepressants or drugs for epilepsy. Regular pain relievers are not usually effective for this type of pain.
If your pain doesnt lessen, you might try therapies like nerve blocks or steroid injections near the area where the nerves exit the spine. Your provider might suggest an implantable nerve stimulator device for severe, ongoing pain that hasnt responded to other treatments.
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Is A Vaccine Available To Prevent Shingles
Two vaccines are available in the United States to reduce your chance of developing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. One vaccine, Zostavax®, has been available since 2006. The second vaccine, Shingrix®, has been available since 2017. Shingrix is recommended as the preferred vaccine by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of medical and public health experts.
Shingrix is given as a two-dose shot in your upper arm. You should receive the second dose two to six months after receiving the first. Shingrix has been shown to be more than 90% effective in preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. Its effectiveness remains above 85% for at least four years after receiving the vaccine.
Can You Still Develop Shingles If Youve Been Vaccinated For Chickenpox
Yes. Despite being vaccinated for chickenpox, you can still get shingles. No vaccine is 100% protective, and the effectiveness of vaccines lessens with time. However, people who get the chickenpox vaccine are significantly less likely to develop shingles later in life compared with people who never received the chickenpox vaccine. One recent 12-year study found that the number of shingles cases was 72% lower in children who had received the chickenpox vaccine compared with those who didnt.
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Do You Need To Stay Away From Children People Who Are Pregnant Have Cancer Or Anyone With A Weak Immune System After You Get The Zostavax Vaccine
According to the CDC, its safe to be around babies and young children, pregnant women or anyone with a weakened immune system after you get the Zostavax vaccine. Even though the Zostavax vaccine contains a weakened live varicella-zoster virus, the CDC says theres no documented case of a person getting chickenpox from someone who has received the Zostavax vaccine. And remember: You cant get shingles unless youve already had chickenpox.
Shingles And Chickenpox Vaccination
The National Immunisation Program provides a free shingles vaccine, Zostavax® at 70 years of age . There is also a free catch-up program for 71 to 79 year olds until the end of 2021. The Zostavax® vaccine is available on prescription for people aged 50 to 69 years and from 80 years but it must be paid for by the patient.
Zostavax® vaccine contains live attenuated varicella-zoster virus, containing 14 times more virus than childhood varicella vaccines and is contraindicated in immunocompromised people. Zostavax® vaccine should not to be used in people with compromised immune function due to the risk of disseminated disease from the vaccine virus.
- Safety advisory – Zostavax® vaccine for health professionals and consumers
Vaccination is still recommended for people who have had shingles infection in the past. It is recommended to wait at least a year after recovery.
The NIP provides a free chickenpox vaccine to children aged 18 months of age and as catch-up for children up to 20 years of age as part of the No Jab No Pay legislation. People aged 14 years and older require two doses of the chickenpox vaccine, one to two months apart. People from 20 years of age must purchase the vaccine privately.
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What Should You Expect If You Get Shingles
Shingles can be a very painful condition. If you think you have the symptoms of shingles, see your healthcare provider right away. Starting antiviral medications early can ease your discomfort and end symptoms earlier.
A better approach to shingles is to take action and do what you can to lessen your risk of getting it. If you’ve never had shingles in the past, talk to your healthcare provider about getting the shingles vaccine. If youve never had chickenpox, talk with your healthcare provider about getting the chickenpox vaccine.
When To Seek Medical Advice
Shingles is not usually serious, but you should see your GP as soon as possible if you recognise the symptoms. Early treatment may help reduce the severity of your symptoms and the risk of developing complications.
You should also see your GP if you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system and you think you have been exposed to someone with chickenpox or shingles and haven’t had chickenpox before.
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Shingles Chickenpox And Pregnancy
An attack of shingles during pregnancy will not harm the unborn baby. The mother is already carrying the varicella zoster virus before developing shingles and there is no increase in the risk of passing it on to the fetus if shingles develops. However, an attack of chickenpox during pregnancy can be serious and requires urgent medical attention.
Can You Catch Shingles By Hugging Someone With Shingles
July 6, 2022 By Ann Rapier
Shingles, which is caused by the varicella zoster virus, is an illness that one in three people will deal with in their lifetime. This is because the chickenpox virus is still in their body, and has reactivated to form what is now at this age, shingles. Various factors like age, medical status, and other diseases that couldve possibly caused it to reactivate. Is shingles contagious? Can you catch shingles by hugging someone with shingles? While chickenpox is also caused by the same virus, does that mean that shingles is, too?
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What Can Be Done To Prevent The Spread Of Shingles
A vaccine for chickenpox is available and it is hoped that individuals immunized against chickenpox will be less likely to develop shingles in later life.
The risk of spreading the virus that causes shingles is low if the rash is covered. People with shingles should keep the rash covered, not touch or scratch the rash, and wash their hands often to prevent the spread of shingles. Once the rash has developed crusts, the person is no longer contagious.
How Does It Spread
Shingles spreads via contact with the fluid or pus in a persons blisters.
If a person comes into contact with this, they may develop chickenpox if they have never had it or the varicella vaccine, also known as the chickenpox vaccine.
Shingles can transmit via coughing and sneezing only if blisters have developed in the persons oral cavity.
- practicing good hand hygiene by frequently washing both hands
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How To Decrease Your Risk Of Complications
Treating shingles early can help shorten the lifespan of the virus.
If youre able to shorten the infection, youll decrease your risk for complications from the virus. Antiviral medication is recommended as a first line of treatment when youre diagnosed with shingles.
Getting a varicella vaccination can help you to avoid contracting shingles and chickenpox. Even if youve already had shingles, a vaccination against shingles can help to prevent the virus from reactivating in your system.
The most common complication associated with shingles is postherpetic neuralgia . PHN is long-term nerve pain that can occur in the area where your shingles rash appeared.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , of people experience PHN after a shingles outbreak.
The older you are when your shingles appears, the higher your risk for long-term nerve pain.
If the virus is left untreated, your risk for other complications related to shingles
Other Forms Of Shingles
Shingles do not only develop on the skin. Ophthalmic shingles occurs when the virus affects the trigeminal nerve that controls the muscles, sensation, and movement of the face. This form of the infection requires immediate treatment. It can present as conjunctivitis or pink eye, which is highly contagious. Other symptoms of this eye infection include throbbing pain in the eye, blurry vision, and redness around and in the eye.
TimMcClean / Getty Images
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When You Should See Your Doctor
Go to your doctor as soon as you see the rash, as treatment is most effective if its started early.
Your doctor may prescribe antiviral medicine, which may help you recover faster and will reduce the chance that the pain will last for a long time.
Your doctor may also give you medicine for pain relief.
See your doctor again if:
- you get any blisters on your face
- your fever or pain gets worse
- your neck gets stiff, you cant hear properly or you feel less able to think clearly
- you develop new symptoms such as drooping or weakness to one side of your face
- the blisters show signs of infection or if you see milky yellow drainage from the blister sites.
Call Healthline if you are unsure what you should do.
How Is Shingles Diagnosed
The clinical appearance of shingles, with characteristic painful blisters localized to the region of a specific nerve on one side of the body, is usually sufficient to establish the diagnosis. No diagnostic tests are typically required. However, particularly in people with impaired immune function, shingles may sometimes not display the characteristic clinical pattern. In these cases, samples from the affected area may be tested in a laboratory, either by culturing the tissue or blister drainage for growth of the virus or by identifying the genetic material of the virus.
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