Shingles is a viral infection that causes an irritating rash on one side of your body. This painful condition forms pus-filled blisters that burst and crust over. It often lasts for many weeks and may leave scars. But is shingles contagious? Yes. Can you give it to your husband, or anyone else? No.
How do I get shingles?
You cannot get shingles from another person. Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you have chickenpox as a child, the virus lies dormant in your nervous system. Sometimes, for reasons not entirely understood, the virus is activated, causing shingles. So if you have shingles, you were actually infected by your own chickenpox.
How is shingles contagious?
If you have shingles, you can give another person chickenpox if they haven't had it already. So, if your husband has not had chickenpox yet, you could give him chickenpox, but not shingles. You will be contagious for about a week after the rash appears. If you have shingles, chickenpox is usually transmitted through contact with the open blisters of the rash. The best thing to do is keep your rash covered up so no one will have direct contact with it, and so you won't touch it and then touch someone else. Shingles is usually painful, so you probably won't want anyone to touch you anyway.
Who can get chickenpox from shingles patients?
Be careful around those who are especially susceptible to chickenpox, including:
- People with weak immune systems, like people with cancer or HIV/AIDS
- Babies, and those who haven't had chickenpox yet
- Women who are pregnant (chicken pox is dangerous for developing babies)
- The elderly
What about the shingles vaccine?
The shingles vaccine is designed to either keep you from getting shingles or reduce the severity of your infection and reduce your chances of developing postherpectic neuralgia. If you have already had shingles, it can keep you from getting it again. In a large clinical trial involving adults 60 years and older, the vaccine prevented shingles in 51 percent of the patients and postherpetic neuralgia in 67 percent of patients.
The shingles vaccine is not for everyone, including:
- People with weakened immune systems from HIV or other diseases
- Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy
- People have allergic reaction to some aspect of the vaccine, including gelatin or antibiotic neomycin
- Patients taking a drug that affects the immune system, like steroids
- Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant
- Patients with tuberculosis
- Patients with cancer affecting the lymphatic system or bone marrow, like lymphoma or leukemia
The shingles vaccine is meant for people over the age of 60 because they are the most likely to develop shingles. The FDA has not approved the vaccine for people under 60. Shingles is not a condition that can be passed from person to person. If you develop shingles, it came from the chickenpox you had as a child, which has been dormant until now. Even though you can't give anyone shingles, you can give them chickenpox if they haven't had it already.
My understanding is that shingles is in fact slightly contagious. In fact, my mother caught it from my brother. Commented on HelloLife · January 12, 2011 at 10:44 AM
According to the CDC, shingles is not contagions.
However, the virus that causes shingles can be passed on to someone who comes into contact with a shingles rash, but only if they never had chicken pox. That person may in turn develop chicken pox.
But, science is always learning new things about itself! If you truly believe that your mother did in fact catch shingles from your brother, you may want to have the situation further investigated.
Thanks for reading! Commented on HelloLife · January 13, 2011 at 12:03 PM
i recently went to drs with a rash who in turn without hesitation told me i have shingles.
i have never had had chickenpox so he said this cant be the case then!!! Commented on HelloLife · January 7, 2012 at 6:48 AM
if a pregnant woman comes into contact with somone who has shingles can it harm the unborn baby? Commented on HelloLife · January 29, 2012 at 11:09 PM
I've only seen shingles once and it was not pleasant. I worked at a grocery store and a customer came in with it on her face and by her eyes. It looked painful and it seemed to last a long time. Like 4 weeks or so. Commented on HelloLife · January 30, 2012 at 2:34 PM
how long does it take to go away because i now have it?62 Commented on HelloLife · May 21, 2012 at 6:09 AM
I've had shingles when I was 16 years old. I am now 20, would my chances be greater to get shingles again since I had it before? And when I had them it was not as painful as some might have experienced, just very very itchy! I had it for a month, and It no one else got it or chicken pox. I think it varies maybe Hellolife guest maybe your moms immune system was low. I have no idea Commented on HelloLife · July 10, 2012 at 9:14 AM
I was wondering about shingles myself, so I did a little research. Here is what Web MD said about the issue of recurrence:
2.8 times more likely in people with shingles-associated pain for 30 or more days during the initial episode
4.8 times more likely in people with shingles-associated pain for 60 or more days during the initial episode
60% more likely in women than men
40% more likely in people who were 50 or older when they had their initial attack
"Still, most recurrences occurred in people with none of these risk factors."
Taken from: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/shingles/news/20091102/shingles-recurs-more-often-than-thought
Commented on HelloLife · July 11, 2012 at 8:28 AM
I am dealing wit shingles as I type this. going on 2 weeks. EXTREMELY painful! Had chicken pox as a cild as did my husband & both of my sons. Calamine lotion helps to reduce the inflamation by cooling down the burning sensation, and naproxen works for the pain if you take 2 capsules. Also have a script for vicodin, but try to avoid taking tat unless it is absolutely necessary. The shingles broke out full-force in the middle of our family vacation, so tat really put a damper on things. Yes, the pain is bad enough where it kills your appetite, as I dropped 10 lbs without even trying. [I'm small to begin with, and certainly did not need to lose any weight!]The worse sores were on the right side of my back, and it still is difficult to get comfortable to get a good night's sleep. Will be glad when the whole mess finally clears up Commented on HelloLife · September 26, 2012 at 10:57 PM
i am 45 and i had shingles about a year and a half ago a big spot lower middle back and the bad case was on my left leg. this was the first time i ever had them. when they started i woke up with the worst pain in my upper left leg I thought i pulled a muscle in my back i went to the doctor and got muscle relaxants when I started them the blisters came out I thought i was having a reaction to the medication. My mom looked at them and she is the one that said it was a very bad case of shingles. I am still having dumbness and itching and pain in my leg still now. I had spots on my other leg but nothing like on my left and the big spot on my back. Now i think I might be getting them again I am not sure though because my left leg is hurting like when it started last time but it could be just the pain I have had since the first outbreak.They are not fun several years after either Commented on HelloLife · November 23, 2012 at 9:24 PM
Complete BULL!!! I have had shingles 4 times in the last 4 months. We moved out of the country and it's been stressful. I was told it was shinlges and recieved the meds for it. After it came back the 2nd time and cleared up, 2 weeks later my husband broke out in shingles. It was BAD too. Then I got them again, then he got them again and now I have them again. Now that we know what it is, we quickly get the meds which help alot. Soooo you can catch shingles and that is that!!! We are young healthy people who are very fit and active, too. Crazy but true story! Commented on HelloLife · December 17, 2012 at 12:37 AM
I just want to know what they say about young people having shingles. My mother had the chicken pox while I was in her womb. Therefore, the disease was transferred to me as well. Since then I have had shingles 3 times. Once while only 6 months old, once while in the 3rd grade on the bottoms of my feet, and now at the age of 21. They have been horrible everytime and are mild as of right now, just waiting to see how bad they get. Commented on HelloLife · February 4, 2013 at 4:48 PM
I have read a number of websites and blogs on shingles and I find it shocking that the official position of the CDC is that shingles is not contagious. That statement is absolutely misleading and in my experience false. I had chicken pox at age 5 and was diagnosed with shingles at the age of 30. I experienced a rash that developed on my back within 24 hours of using a public tanning bed. It was a bubbly fluid-filled rash. I was horrified. The doctor told me it appeared to be shingles. That was 5 years ago. Since then I occasionally feel tingling in that area not until recently notices pimple-like bumps on my lower back that either sting or itch. I know I contracted this mess in the tanning bed that day, I don't care what I read. Its like saying you cant transmit AIDS. If the virus that causes the disease is contagious than its contagious. Commented on HelloLife · February 4, 2013 at 11:15 PM
My 73 year old father went and got the shingles vaccine, my mother with a very low immune system broke out with shingles within a week of his vaccine. Commented on HelloLife · February 9, 2013 at 1:40 PM
Every time I go to the tropics I get the shingles! Very discouraging. My Dr. has suggested I start my meds before I leave on my trips. It does help but by no means is it a cure. my husband and I love to travel at least 2 to 3 times a year to warmer weather but not so much now.In fact we are on vacation now and my son who is 17 called me to say he has beed diagnosed for the third time with the chicken pocks! The things we pass on. Commented on HelloLife · March 9, 2013 at 11:56 AM
I believe that I have shingles but with no rash. Am I contagious since I don't have the rash? Commented on HelloLife · May 28, 2013 at 11:50 AM
Does anyone know if the vaccine could be approved for people younger than 60??? I am 32 and I have shingles again! When I say again I mean it as in this is the 12th time I have had shingles in 2 years! I have had blood test to check for immune suppressing diseases, I am otherwise healthy, very active(maybe too active at times), take immune boosting vitamins religiously everyday. I only get mild cases on my lower back on the right but it is the burning that starts before and after that is bothering me. Feels like that part of my skin is on fire! Please any advice?? Commented on HelloLife · June 5, 2013 at 6:48 PM
My wife is just getting over an episode of shingles. I did not think I could catch it as have had chicken pox so was helping her apply cream etc. I HAVE CAUGHT IT, so what they say is not true, you can catch shingles even if you have had chicken pox. Commented on HelloLife · July 20, 2013 at 5:29 AM
I was wondering if 7-9 year old can get shingles? I had chicken pox when i was a baby,i have one scar from it but when i was around 7-9 years old i had sores kinda like cold sores but they hurt so bad i couldnt sleep.I cant remember how long they lasted but i havent had those sores or that kind of pain since and im 43 years old. Commented on HelloLife · August 14, 2013 at 1:18 AM
my brother and i had it within 3 months of each other this summer. He's 35 im 41 and we both had chicken pox as kids. I was convinced it wasn't contagious if you've had chicken pox. Now after reading these posts... I"m not so sure. Now i'm worried i'll pass it on to my family members. Guess we will see Commented on HelloLife · August 14, 2013 at 12:28 PM
Im 13 and found out i most likely have the shingles today, they say their not contagious enless the area has popped. So my mom is keeping me home from school. How soon should i go to the doctor? Commented on HelloLife · August 25, 2013 at 7:42 PM
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How long can you have nerve pain, deep nerve pain, through out the body before the shingles rash appears and is confirmed as shingles? I have had unexplained nerve and muscle pain for months (years) that comes and goes with no explanation and with this last bout the final outcome I have shingles in my left leg and butt check. Commented on HelloLife · November 18, 2013 at 9:01 PM
How long can you have nerve pain, deep nerve pain, through out the body before the shingles rash appears and is confirmed as shingles? I have had unexplained nerve and muscle pain for months (years) that comes and goes with no explanation and with this last bout the final outcome I have shingles in my left leg and butt cheek. Commented on HelloLife · November 18, 2013 at 9:02 PM
Ran into a friend one day at the store and as she was waiting for a prescription for something unrelated to shingles she says, "Boy, my ear really hurts and burns". What do I do? Let me see it, so I touch it and look around it and its just red and puffy. She calls me maybe 4 days later and tells me she has full blown shingles on her cheek and neck.....I had the chicken pox as a kid. There were no open blisters yet..just red and inflamed. Wonder where that puts me now...feel so bad for her! Commented on HelloLife · December 16, 2013 at 12:29 PM
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