Wednesday, May 29, 2024

How Contagious Is Shingles In Adults

How Can You Affect Others When You Have Shingles

Is shingles contagious?

Shingles does not spread from person to person. What can pass on is the varicella-zoster virus from the fluid in shingles blisters.

When you have shingles with an active rash, it is possible to pass on the virus to anyone who has not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine.

Once a person has the virus, they may have a chickenpox infection and possibly later in life have shingles.

Can You Get Chickenpox If You’ve Been Vaccinated

Yes. About 15% 20% of people who have received one dose of varicella vaccine do still get chickenpox if they are exposed, but their disease is usually mild. Vaccinated persons who get chickenpox generally have fewer than 50 spots or bumps, which may resemble bug bites more than typical, fluid-filled chickenpox blisters. In 2006, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend routine two-dose varicella vaccination for children. In one study, children who received two doses of varicella vaccine were three times less likely to get chickenpox than individuals who have had only one dose.

Are There Natural Ways To Boost Your Immune System To Help Lessen The Chances Of Developing Shingles

Stress is a risk factor for developing shingles, so limiting your stress can be helpful. Try meditation, yoga or other relaxation methods.

Other things you can do include:

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
  • Dont smoke or use tobacco products.

These are all tips for an overall healthy lifestyle, not just for reducing your chance of getting shingles.

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How Is Shingles Treated

Specific treatment for shingles will be determined by your healthcare provider based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • How long the shingles have been present
  • Extent of the condition
  • Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the condition
  • Your opinion or preference

There is no cure for shingles. It simply has to run its course. Treatment focuses on pain relief. Painkillers may help relieve some of the pain. Antiviral drugs may help lessen some of the symptoms and reduce nerve damage. Other treatments may include:

  • Creams or lotions to help relieve itching
  • Cool compresses applied to affected skin areas
  • Antiviral medicines
  • Anticonvulsants

How Is Shingles Spread

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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 .

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Who Is At Risk For Getting Shingles

People who have had chickenpox who are more likely to develop shingles include those:

  • With a weakened immune system .
  • Over the age of 50.
  • Who have been ill.
  • Who have experienced trauma.
  • Who are under stress.

The chickenpox virus doesnt leave your body after you have chickenpox. Instead, the virus stays in a portion of your spinal nerve root called the dorsal root ganglion. For the majority of people, the virus stays there quietly and doesn’t cause problems. Researchers aren’t always sure why the virus gets reactivated, but this typically occurs at times of stress.

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.

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Can I Go To Work With Shingles

You can go to work if you have shingles and are no longer contagious. However, you may need to wait until youre feeling better. Shingles can be excruciating and debilitating.

Youre no longer contagious when the rash and blisters begin to scab over. This is typically 10 days after the rash first crops up.

Symptoms And Gestation Period

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Shingles begins with pain in the area that will ultimately develop a rash. The affected person may experience burning, itching, or stinging pain, as well as flu-like symptoms such as headaches, low-grade fever, and fatigue. A physician can investigate further to determine whether shingles is the cause. The incubation period of shingles â the time it takes from transmission to the first symptoms â is usually about two weeks, so it can be difficult to trace one’s infection back to the source.

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Who Should Be Vaccinated With Shingrix

The Shingrix vaccine is recommended for those 50 years of age and older who are in good health.

You should get the Shingrix vaccine even if:

  • Youve had shingles already.
  • Youve been previously vaccinated with Zostavax . If youve been vaccinated with Zostavax, wait at least eight weeks before getting vaccinated with Shingrix.
  • You dont know for sure if youve ever had chickenpox.

Ask your healthcare provider, who knows your entire health history if getting this vaccine is right for you.

If You Have More Than One Area Of Blisters What Can You Expect If You Go To The Hospital

Its important to note that most people with shingles dont need to be in a hospital, but if you do:

  • Youll be in a contact isolation room.
  • The door will be kept closed.
  • A sign on your door will remind people who have never had chickenpox or the vaccine not to enter.
  • The sign will also remind staff to wear gowns and gloves when entering the room.

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Who Should Avoid Contact With Shingles

One way of preventing the spread is to avoid contact with people who have shingles blisters.

If a person gets chickenpox, they usually only have it once. This is for shingles. A person is unlikely to have shingles more than once, unless they have a weakened immune system, which may result from a health issue or immunosuppressant treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Anyone with shingles blisters should especially avoid contact with:

  • Pregnant people who have never had chickenpox or its vaccination: If chickenpox develops during pregnancy, especially 521 days before birth, it can be dangerous for the fetus.
  • Children who have not had chickenpox or its vaccination: Until a child is vaccinated, they should avoid contact with anyone who has chickenpox or shingles blisters.
  • People with weakened immune systems, such as:
  • infants born early or with a low birth weight
  • people with HIV, leukemia, lymphoma, or other health issues that have this immune effect
  • people who take immunosuppressant medications, such as chemotherapy
  • people who have had organ transplants

After contact with the varicella virus, a person in any of the above groups may be unable to ward off the infection. Their risk of developing chickenpox, then shingles and its complications may be higher.These groups are also likely to have the illnesses for longer, and the symptoms may be more severe.

increase the risk of shingles.

Ways of managing the symptoms include:

What Should I Do About An Exposure To Varicella

Shingles: Signs, Symptoms, Cause, Treatment, Is It Contagious?

If you have been in contact with someone with chickenpox or shingles, or if you have a rash-associated illness that might be chickenpox or shingles, discuss your situation with your healthcare provider. Blood tests may be done to see if you have become infected with the virus or have had the disease in the past. If you are pregnant and not immune and have been exposed to chickenpox or shingles, call your healthcare provider immediately. Your provider may choose to treat you with a medication called varicella-zoster immune globulin , but in order for this medication to be most helpful, it needs to be given as soon as possible after your exposure to varicella.

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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 Illnesses Does Varicella

Chickenpox first occurs as a blister-like skin rash and fever. It takes from 10-21 days after exposure for someone to develop chickenpox. The sores commonly occur in batches with different stages present at the same time. The blisters usually scab over in 5 days. A person with chickenpox is contagious 1-2 days before the rash appears and until all blisters have formed scabs. Children with weakened immune systems may have blisters occurring for a prolonged time period. Adults can develop severe pneumonia and other serious complications.

Shingles occurs when the virus, which has been inactive for some time, becomes active again. Severe pain and numbness along nerve pathways, commonly on the trunk or on the face, are present. Clusters of blisters appear 1 to 5 days later. The blisters are usually on one side of the body and closer together than in chickenpox. Shingles does not spread as shingles from one person to another. If people who have never had chickenpox come in contact with the fluid from shingles blisters, they can develop chickenpox.

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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.

Is There A Way I Can Keep From Being Infected With Chickenpox

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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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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.

How To Avoid Spreading Shingles

The varicella-zoster virus is typically less likely to be transmitted with shingles than with chickenpox. However, the varicella-zoster virus can be passed on from the time that your symptoms start until your rash and blisters have crusted dry.

If you have shingles and are otherwise healthy, you can still go out in public or to work. But be sure to follow these tips:

  • Keep the shingles rash clean and covered. This can help prevent other people from coming into contact with your blisters.
  • Wash your hands often. Also, try not to touch the blisters.
  • Avoid being around pregnant people. The varicella-zoster virus can cause serious health risks for both pregnant people and their babies. Risks include pneumonia and permanent damage to the unborn child. If you find you have shingles after spending time with someone whos pregnant, let them know at once so they can ask their OB-GYN for advice. Be especially careful to avoid pregnant people who havent had chickenpox or the vaccine for it.
  • Avoid other at-risk people. Stay away from premature babies, infants with low birth weights, and children who havent yet had chickenpox or its vaccine. Also, avoid people with weakened immune systems. These include people living with HIV, organ transplant recipients, and people taking immunosuppressant medications or having chemotherapy.

Doctors recommend the chickenpox vaccine for children. Preventing chickenpox will also prevent shingles.

You can get the vaccine

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I’m Pregnant And Have Recently Been Exposed To Someone With Chickenpox How Will This Exposure Affect Me Or My Pregnancy

  • Susceptible pregnant women are at risk for associated complications when they contract varicella. Varicella infection causes severe illness in pregnant women, and 10%-20% of those infected develop varicella pneumonia, with mortality reported as high as 40%.
  • Because of these risks, pregnant women without evidence of immunity to varicella who have been exposed to the virus may be given varicella-zoster immune globulin to reduce their risk of disease complications.
  • If you are pregnant and have never had chickenpox, and you get chickenpox during the:
    • First half of your pregnancy, there is a very slight risk for birth defects or miscarriage.
    • Second half of your pregnancy, the baby may have infection without having any symptoms and then get shingles later in life.
  • Newborns whose mothers develop varicella rash from 5 days before to 2 days after delivery are at risk for neonatal varicella, associated with mortality as high as 30%. These infants should receive preventive treatment with varicella-zoster immune globulin .

When You Should See Your Doctor

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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.

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Who Should Not Be Vaccinated With Shingrix

You shouldnt receive the Shingrix vaccine if you:

  • Have ever had a severe allergy to this vaccine or any ingredient in this vaccine.
  • Are breastfeeding or pregnant.
  • Currently have shingles.
  • Are ill and have a high fever.
  • Have tested negative for immunity to varicella-zoster virus .

Ask your healthcare provider if the benefits of getting the vaccine outweigh any potential risks.

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

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What Are Risk Factors For Shingles

A weakened immune system might wake up the virus. After youâve had chickenpox, youâre more likely to get shingles if you:

  • Are 50 or older
  • Are under a lot of stress
  • Have cancer, HIV, or another disease that lowers your bodyâs defenses
  • Have had a serious physical injury
  • Take long-term steroids or other medicines that can weaken your immune system

But many people who get shingles donât fit into any of these categories.

Will Shingles Go Away On Its Own

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Shingles isn’t life-threatening, but it can be incredibly painful and, in some cases, complications can arise. While this rash typically goes away its own, prompt treatment can reduce your pain and help shingles go away faster.

“Several antivirals can be used to treat shingles. These drugs can help you heal more quickly and reduce your pain, but they are most effective when started within 72 hours of your rash appearing. This means it’s important to see your doctor as soon as you suspect shingles,” says Dr. Brown. “When it comes to the pain associated with shingles, most people are able to manage it using over-the-counter pain relievers. But, pain can be severe for some people. In these cases, your doctor can prescribe stronger pain medications.”

Beyond treating your immediate pain and rash, seeing your doctor is also important since serious complications can occur as a result of shingles, such as:

  • Postherpetic neuralgia pain that lasts for months to years after the rash clears, with this pain being debilitating in some cases
  • Skin infection occurs if the open sores of your rash become infected with bacteria, which can require antibiotics and delay healing
  • Vision problems while rare, if your rash develops near your eye, the associated inflammation can damage your retina and, in some cases, result in vision loss

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