Symptoms And Gestation Period
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 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.
Can Shingles Come Back
Given that shingles results from the varicella zoster virus reactivating some amount of time after having chickenpox, you may be wondering if the virus can…re-reactivate after having shingles.
“Once shingles clears up, the virus simply goes back into hiding and, unfortunately, it can reactivate again in the future,” says Dr. Brown. “As far as the likelihood of shingles reoccurring, that’s still largely up for debate. One study found that the chance of getting shingles a second time is about 5%, but other studies show this number to be lower.”
One way to reduce your risk of getting shingles twice is the same preventive measure that helps prevent you from ever getting it in the first place: the shingles vaccine.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles
Shingles usually starts as a rash on one side of the face or body. The rash starts as blisters that scab after seven to ten days. The rash usually clears within two to four weeks.
Before the rash develops, there is often pain, itching, or tingling in the area where the rash will develop. Other symptoms of shingles can include fever, headache, chills, and upset stomach.
Is Shingles Contagious 2 Methods Of Transmission To Avoid
Exactly how you get shingles can be confusing: it’s technically the reactivation of chickenpox and is caused by the same pesky virus .
But is shingles contagious? What are the riskiest transmission methods? How long is it contagious? What can you do to avoid getting shingles transmitted to you? What even causes shingles?
We’ll be covering everything below, but let’s start with a basic question.
Feature image: Wikimedia/Fisle
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Are Shingles Contagious Yes Or No
If you had chickenpox when you were a child, you are at risk for shingles. Shingles occurs when the varicella-zoster virus that caused your chickenpox re-emerges after lying dormant in your nerve cells from the time of your original illness. When this occurs, you are contagious, but you can’t give someone shingles.
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.
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Do You Always Get The Typical Rash If You Have Shingles
Occasionally, some people dont get a rash. If you have any of the other symptoms of shingles , see your healthcare provider sooner rather than later. There are effective treatments you can take early for shingles. Even if you dont have shingles, seeing your healthcare provider will help you get your condition diagnosed and treated.
Who Is At Risk For Shingles
You! About 98 percent of adults have had chickenpox and are at risk for shingles. In the United States, at least 1 million people get shingles each year. Shingles is far more common in people age 50 and older than in younger people. About half of shingles cases occur in people age 60 or older. It is more common in people who have a weakened immune system because of a disease, such as cancer or human immunodeficiency virus , or from drugs, like steroids or chemotherapy. Anyone can get shingles, though, including children.
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What Are The Complications Of Shingles
After the shingles rash has disappeared, you might continue to have nerve pain in that same area. Postherpetic neuralgia can last for months or years and become quite severe.
More than 10% of people who get shingles develop postherpetic neuralgia. Researchers dont know why some people get postherpetic neuralgia and others dont. It may be that nerves become more sensitive or that the virus may be invading and damaging the central nervous system.
Other complications include:
- Other types of nerve issues like numbness or itching.
- A bacterial infection of the shingles rash.
- Eye and ear inflammation if the rash is near these organs.
So Is Shingles Contagious
Many people think that shingles is contagious, however, if you have had chickenpox you cannot catch shingles from someone else who has shingles. If you have never had chickenpox or have not received the chickenpox vaccine you can catch chickenpox from someone with shingles. Covering the rash with clothing or some sort of dressing, and maintaining strict personal hygiene will decrease the risk of spreading infection to others. If you have shingles you are contagious until the lesions are all scabbed over, which is usually 10-14 days.
If you have shingles you should avoid contact with anyone who hasnt had chickenpox, especially pregnant women, people with a weak immune system and very young babies as they are at risk of catching chickenpox.
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Why Doesnt Having Chickenpox Earlier In Life Provide Immunity Against Having Shingles Later
After having chickenpox, your body doesnt rid your system of the virus. Instead, the virus stays in a portion of the spinal nerve root called the dorsal root ganglion. In most people, the virus simply stays there quietly and doesnt cause problems. Scientists arent always sure why the virus gets active again, but they know stress can be a cause.
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.
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How Can You Affect Others When You Have Shingles
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.
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.
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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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How Long Is Shingles Contagious
Similar to chickenpox, shingles is a contagious illness. But, before we address how long you may be contagious, we need to talk about how shingles spreads which might actually surprise you.
“Shingles is indeed contagious, but it can only be spread to people who haven’t yet had chickenpox, or the chickenpox vaccine. In these cases, the shingles virus typically spreads via direct contact with the opened blisters of your rash. After being infected, a person doesn’t develop shingles, though he or she develops chickenpox,” explains Dr. Brown.
Since you can’t really know who is and who isn’t susceptible to chickenpox, it’s important to take safety measures if you have shingles.
“When you have shingles, you’re considered contagious until your open sores crust and scab over. This generally takes between 7 to 10 days,” says Dr. Brown. “Depending on where your rash develops on your body and where you work, you may be able to return to work before your shingles dry up.”
Before your rash dries up, Dr. Brown recommends the following to prevent spreading shingles to others:
- Make sure your rash is covered with gauze
- Limit interaction with other people if your shingles rash is on your face
- Consult with your doctor about returning to work if you work in a medical setting or nursing home, as well as if you interact with people frequently while at work
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.
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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
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 .
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How Shingles Develops
People who get infected with VZV develop chickenpox. The virus then lays dormant. In some people, it becomes active again in adulthood, causing the painful condition called shingles.
Not everyone who contracts chickenpox will develop shingles later in life. In rare cases, shingles may occur multiple times in a persons life.
What Causes Shingles
When the varicella zoster virus gets into your body, the first problem it causes is chickenpox. You may think of it as a childhood disease, but adults can get it, too.
We donât know why, but sometimes, years later, the virus âwakes upâ and travels along nerve fibers to your skin. Thatâs when it lands its second punch: shingles, also called herpes zoster.
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How Shingles Spreads
The varicella-zoster virus can typically spread from a person with shingles to someone who has never had chickenpox. If a person has had chickenpox, they usually have antibodies against the virus in their body.
Shingles causes open, oozing blisters. The varicella-zoster virus can spread through contact with shingles blisters that havent scabbed over yet. If you havent had chickenpox, you can acquire the varicella-zoster virus from exposure to the virus through someone elses open shingles blisters. This could lead to chickenpox.
The virus doesnt spread after the blisters have formed crusty scabs. Once the blisters scab, they can no longer pass on the virus. The virus also doesnt spread when the blisters are well covered.
You cant get shingles through contact with the saliva or nasal secretions of someone who has shingles, except in rare cases. That means you usually cant get shingles if someone who has it coughs or sneezes on you.
National Institute on Aging says that it only reactivates in around one-third of them, so only one in three people with the virus will have shingles. Experts do not know why some people develop it, and others dont.
However, the chance of this happening increases as a person gets older. Around half of all cases occur after the age of 60 years, and the risk increases significantly from 70 onward.
You might also have a higher risk if you:
Even a common cold can affect the immune system and trigger shingles in some people.
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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Who Gets Shingles
Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox may develop shingles, including children. However, shingles most commonly occurs in people 50 years old or older. The risk of getting shingles increases as a person gets older. People who have medical conditions that keep the immune system from working properly, like cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, and human immunodeficiency virus infections, or people who receive drugs that weaken the immune system, such as steroids and drugs given after organ transplantation, are also at greater risk to get shingles.
Who Is At Risk
The shingles virus can spread to anyone and is relatively common. However, some people are more susceptible than others. In particular, older people have a greater risk of contracting chickenpox or shingles. Once a person has had shingles, his or her body retains the virus permanently. Anyone with shingles should stay away from people with weakened immune systems, as well as pregnant women, elderly individuals, and babies . These demographics have a higher risk of infection.
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Im Pregnant And Have Had A Blood Test For Chickenpox What Do The Results Of This Test Show
The blood test can show that you:
- Are immune and have no sign of recent infection. You have nothing further to be concerned about.
- Are not immune and have not yet been infected. You should avoid anyone with chickenpox during your pregnancy.
- Have or recently had an infection. You should discuss what the risks are for your stage of pregnancy with your healthcare provider.