Wednesday, May 29, 2024

How Long Am I Contagious With Shingles

Are There Complications Of Shingles

Is shingles contagious?

Shingles can have complications that last long after the rash is gone, including:

  • Brain inflammation or facial paralysis if it affects certain nerves
  • Eye problems and vision loss if your rash was in or around your eye
  • Pain that lasts long after the outbreak, called postherpetic neuralgia. It affects up to 1 in 5 people who get shingles.

What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Shingles

Often the first shingles symptoms happen in the area where the rash will appear. A person may have tingling, itching, or pain in this area. When the rash shows up, the pain may be mild or severe.

The rash starts as groups of tiny pimples on one side of the body or the face. It’s often in the shape of a band or belt. The pimples change to pus-filled blisters that break open and scab over in about 710 days. The scabs usually heal and fall off about 24 weeks after the rash starts.

Some kids with shingles also may have a fever and a headache, and might feel tired and achy. Rarely, a child has the pain of shingles without the rash. More severe symptoms can happen, but usually in people over age 50.

How Shingles Cause Chickenpox

People who have not had chickenpox can catch the varicella-zoster virus if they have close contact with a person who has shingles. According to the CDC, “The virus that causes shingles, varicella zoster virus, can spread from a person with active shingles and cause chickenpox in someone who had never had chickenpox or received chickenpox vaccine.”

The most common way to get chickenpox is “by touching or breathing in the virus particles that come from chickenpox blisters,” you also can get chickenpox “through tiny droplets from infected people that get into the air after they breathe or talk.” Fortunately, the droplet spread doesn’t happen with shingles.

Although you should still take steps to avoid contact with the shingles blisters, someone who has had chickenpox or two doses of the chickenpox vaccine should be well protected if they have to be around someone with shingles. Here are some additional things you should know about the contagiousness of shingles.

  • If your child is unvaccinated or has only had one dose of chickenpox vaccine , getting vaccinated within 3 to 5 days of exposure to someone with shingles might decrease their risk of getting chickenpox.
  • Symptoms of breakthrough chickenpoxâgetting sick after being vaccinatedâare usually much milder than natural chickenpox infections.

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What Should I Do About An Exposure To Varicella

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.

How Can You Prevent Shingles

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Vaccination is the only way to reduce the chance of getting shingles since the virus that causes shingles is already present in anyone who has had chickenpox.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two doses of recombinant zoster vaccine to prevent shingles and related complications in adults 50 years and older. Shingrix is also recommended for adults 19 years and older who have weakened immune systems because of disease or treatments they are receiving. The varicella vaccine protects against chickenpox.

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The Stages Of Shingles

Clinical manifestations divided into 3 phases.

Shingles, or herpes zoster , is an infection caused by the varicella zoster virus which remains in the body following an episode of chickenpox. After lying dormant and forgotten for decades in the neurons of a spinal nerve, it reactivates as shingles.

The primary symptom associated with shingles is a painful red rash that erupts along 1 side of the body. Most commonly presenting as a band around the patients waistline or trunk, the rash can also break out in other locations like the face, neck, eyes, and ears.

Shingles clinical manifestations are divided into 3 distinct phases: preeruptive, acute eruptive, and chronic.

The preeruptive phase usually lasts about 48 hours but can stretch to 10 days in some cases. It is characterized by sensory phenomena along 1 or more dermatomes, which correspond to an area of skin mainly supplied by a single spinal nerve. Symptoms common to this stage include headache, general fatigue, sensitivity to light, and fever.

The chronic phase, also known as postherpetic neuralgia occurs in up to 20% of all patients with shingles. It is defined as recurrent pain lasting more than 4 weeks after the vesicles have healed. Other symptoms include abnormal skin sensations like tingling, burning, and numbness caused by pressure on a nerve and nerve damage . The resulting pain, which can be excruciating and disabling, can last months and even years.

What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles

Early symptoms of shingles may include:

Other signs and symptoms that appear a few days after the early symptoms include:

  • An itching, tingling or burning feeling in an area of your skin.
  • Redness on your skin in the affected area.
  • Raised rash in a small area of your skin.
  • Fluid-filled blisters that break open then scab over.
  • Mild to severe pain in the area of skin affected.

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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 The Zostavax Vaccine Still Being Used

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Yes. The CDC, however, recommends Zostavax for adults age 60 and older, but not routinely for people aged 50 to 59. Zostavax is given as a single-dose shot versus the two-dose shot for Shingrix. Zostavax is less effective than Shingrix in preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia .

You can consider Zostavax if you are allergic to Shingrix or if Shingrix is unavailable because of supply shortage and you want some immediate protection from a possible case of shingles and/or postherpetic neuralgia. Because its a weakened live vaccine, it may be dangerous if you have cancer, HIV, or take steroids, chemotherapy or other medications that suppress your immune system. Ask your healthcare provider if the Zostavax vaccine is an option for you.

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Key Points About Shingles

  • Shingles is a common viral infection of the nerves. It causes a painful rash or small blisters on an area of skin.
  • Shingles is caused when the chickenpox virus is reactivated.
  • It is more common in people with weakened immune systems, and in people over the age of 50.
  • Shingles starts with skin sensitivity, tingling, itching, and/or pain followed by rash that looks like small, red spots that turn into blisters.
  • The rash is typically affects just one area on one side of the body or face.
  • Treatment that is started as soon as possible helps reduce the severity of the disease.

Is There A Treatment For Shingles

Several antiviral medicines, acyclovir , valacyclovir , and famciclovir , are available to treat shingles. These medications should be started as soon as possible after the rash appears and will help shorten the illness and decrease how severe the illness is. Pain medicine may also help with pain caused by shingles. Call your provider as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.

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Should Someone With Shingles Stay Home From Work Or School

In general, as long as the lesion can be covered, a person with shingles does not need to stay home from work or school.

Health care workers and others working with high-risk individuals should remain home from work until the blisters have scabbed over.

Anyone who cannot keep their blisters covered should stay home from work or school until all blisters have scabbed over.

How Long Is Shingles Contagious

Contagious Contagious
  • How Long Is Shingles Contagious? Center
  • The varicella-zoster virus that causes shingles can spread to others causing chickenpox in patients who have not had it in the past. It is not possible to get shingles from another person with shingles, but it is possible to get chickenpox.

    Shingles are contagious from the time the blisters are oozing until the time the blisters have scabbed.

    To reduce the risk of spreading the virus, the patient is advised to keep the affected area clean and avoid touching the blisters. Patients should wash their hands often. Patients with shingles should also avoid being around high-risk individuals and those who have not had chickenpox or who are not vaccinated against the varicella-zoster virus.

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    Preventing The Virus Spreading

    If you have the shingles rash, do not share towels or flannels, go swimming, or play contact sports. This will help prevent the virus being passed on to someone who has not had chickenpox.

    You should also avoid work or school if your rash is weeping and cannot be covered.

    Chickenpox can be particularly dangerous for certain groups of people. If you have shingles, avoid:

    • women who are pregnant and have not had chickenpox before as they could catch it from you, which may harm their unborn baby
    • people who have a weak immune system, such as someone with HIV or AIDS
    • babies less than one month old, unless it is your own baby, in which case your baby should have antibodies to protect them from the virus

    Once your blisters have dried and scabbed over, you are no longer contagious and will not need to avoid anyone.

    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 .

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    How Can I Take Care Of Myself

    • Take a pain-relief medicine such as acetaminophen. Take other medicine as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
    • Put cool, moist washcloths on the rash.
    • Rest in bed during the early stages if you have fever and other symptoms.
    • Try not to let clothing or bed linens rub against the rash and irritate it.
    • You develop worsening pain or fever.
    • You develop a severe headache, stiff neck, hearing loss, or changes in your ability to think.
    • The blisters show signs of bacterial infection, such as increasing pain or redness, or milky yellow drainage from the blister sites.
    • The blisters are close to the eyes or you have pain in your eyes or trouble seeing.
    • You have trouble walking.

    If You Get The Shingles Vaccine Does This Mean Youre 100% Protected From Getting Shingles

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    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.

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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.

    Is Shingles Contagious

    It is not possible to catch shingles from someone else with the condition, or from someone with chickenpox.

    However, it is possible for someone who has never had chickenpox to catch it from someone with shingles, as the shingles blisters contains the live virus.

    In the UK, chickenpox is so common during childhood that 9 out of 10 adults have already had it and will not be at risk from someone with shingles.

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    What Are The Symptoms

    The first sign of shingles is often burning, sharp pain, tingling, or numbness in your skin on one side of your body or face. The most common site is the back or upper abdomen. You may have severe itching or aching. You also may feel tired and ill with fever, chills, headache, and upset stomach or belly pain.

    One to 14 days after you start feeling pain, you will notice a rash of small blisters on reddened skin. Within a few days after they appear, the blisters will turn yellow, then dry and crust over. Over the next 2 weeks the crusts drop off, and the skin continues to heal over the next several days to weeks.

    Because shingles usually follows nerve paths, the blisters are usually found in a line, often extending from the back or side around to the belly. The blisters are almost always on just one side of the body. Shingles usually doesn’t cross the midline of the body. The rash also may appear on one side of your face or scalp. The painful rash may be in the area of your ear or eye. When shingles occurs on the head or scalp, symptoms can include headaches and weakness of one side of the face, which causes that side of the face to look droopy. The symptoms usually go away eventually, but it may take many months.

    In some cases the pain can last for weeks, months, or years, long after the rash heals. This is called postherpetic neuralgia.

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

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    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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    Urgent Advice: Get Advice From 111 As Soon As You Suspect Shingles

    You might need medicine to help speed up your recovery and avoid longer-lasting problems.

    This works best if taken within 3 days of your symptoms starting.

    111 will tell you what to do. They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one.

    Go to 111.nhs.uk or .

    Get an urgent GP appointment

    A GP may be able to treat you.

    Ask your GP surgery for an urgent appointment.

    How Long Will The Effects Last

    The rash from shingles will heal in 1 to 3 weeks and the pain or irritation will usually go away in 3 to 5 weeks. When shingles occurs on the head or scalp, the symptoms usually go away eventually, but it may take many months.

    If the virus damages a nerve, you may have pain, numbness, or tingling for months or even years after the rash is healed. This is called postherpetic neuralgia. This chronic condition is most likely to occur after a shingles outbreak in people over 50 years old. Taking antiviral medicine as soon as the shingles is diagnosed may help prevent this problem.

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    What Does The Shingles Vaccine Do

    The shingles vaccine can prevent shingles. Every year, about 1 million people in the United States get shingles. Anyone whos had chickenpox can get shingles. Thats because the varicella-zoster virus lives silently in your nervous system after you’ve had chickenpox. The virus can reactivate later in your life if your immune system is weakened. Your risk of getting shingles goes up as you get older. In the United States, 1 in 3 people will get shingles in their lifetime.

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