September 11 at 8:56 PM • Comments: 34 • Views: 63116

Can Children Get Shingles?

Although possible, it is rare for children to get shingles.

  • Shingles is caused by the chickenpox virus reactivating. The chickenpox virus lies dormant in the spinal nerves after the outbreak clears up. For reasons unknown, sometimes the virus comes back, resulting in shingles.
  • Usually only older people or people with suppressed immune systems get shingles.
  • Children who get shingles are usually over the age of 3.
  • A person can only get shingles after they have had chickenpox.
  • Usually, people only get shingles once. Only 5% of people experience a second outbreak of shingles.

What Does Shingles Look Like in Children?

Shingles presents as a rash in one area of the body, usually the torso. Most children will not experience pain and itching, although it is possible.

What Should I Do to Treat Shingles?

  • Do not give your child aspirin because it may cause a condition called Reye's syndrome.
  • You may apply aloe vera gel or calamine lotion to soothe itching.
  • Cold compresses also help relieve discomfort.
  • Discourage your child from scratching or picking at the blisters.
  • Do not bandage the blisters.
  • Keep your child home from school for a week.

Contagiousness

Your child can transmit the chickenpox virus during a shingles outbreak, so keep him or her away from children who have not had chickenpox. Shingles itself is not contagious.

When to Contact Your Health Practitioner

Call your health practitioner immediately if the rash is near the eyes or nose. Eye infections of shingles can result in blindness.

Call your health practitioner if:

  • The rash is extremely itchy or painful
  • The rash lasts for two weeks
  • The blisters become infected (look for pus or yellow scabs)

Signs and Symptoms

The following are things to watch for that may indicate shingles.

  • Pain in the nerves where the virus hides (near the spine).
  • Pain on the skin.
  • Spots in one area of the body, usually a band around the torso, but can occur in other places too.
  • Spots become blisters full of clear liquid.

Long Term Effects

Sometimes shingles can leave behind a condition called postherpetic neuralgia. This is pain on the skin that occurs because of nerve damage caused by the outbreak. Usually it goes away after a few months as the nerves heal, but sometimes it doesn't. You should see your health practitioner if your child is complaining of pain after a shingles outbreak.

Sources:

http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetailsKids.aspx?p=335&np=285&id=1489

34 Comments

  • Smartliving Guest Smartliving Guest

    I had shingles once; some roofers took care of it though :-) Commented on HelloLife · March 12, 2009 at 8:37 AM

  • Smarty Smarty

    We had no choice but to approve this comment. :) Commented on HelloLife · March 12, 2009 at 12:17 PM

  • Smartliving Guest Smartliving Guest

    I agree with almost everything in this article. Except that you do not have to have had chicken pox to get shingles. My 6 year old has never had them and she has shingles. And she is in alot of pain and she says they are extremely itchy. But I absolutely agree with everything else. Commented on HelloLife · July 31, 2009 at 2:28 PM

  • Smartliving Guest Smartliving Guest

    Has your daughter ever had the chicken pox vaccine? The chicken pox vaccine allows for small doses of the virus to get into your system so that your body can build up immunities to it. So if she has had the vaccine but has not had full blown chicken pox than the shingles would have to have come from the vaccine. It is impossible to get shingles without having the viral strain of chicken pox dormant in your system. Shingle formation after chickenpox vaccination has a low percent of occurrence, but it does happen. http://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p4202.pdf Commented on HelloLife · September 11, 2009 at 3:30 PM

  • Smartliving Guest Smartliving Guest

    Can you spread the shingles rash on your body by washing, or touching, the rash, and then washing or touching other areas?
    Is the outbreak always limited to one side (left or right) of the body? Commented on HelloLife · September 14, 2009 at 4:59 PM

  • Smartliving Guest Smartliving Guest

    My Daughter has shingles also. She is 8. She has never had chicken pox. it sucks! Commented on HelloLife · September 28, 2009 at 12:43 PM

  • Smartliving Guest Smartliving Guest

    My son got it when he was 3 years old and he has never had chicken pox either, he gets it at least once a year though each year is less and less but he still gets it though. Does any one know why kids get it? and will it ever go away? Commented on HelloLife · November 9, 2009 at 4:48 PM

  • Smartliving Guest Smartliving Guest

    My son is 6 and has been diagnosed with shingles. It has started on his lower back area and moved down the nerve root all the way to his foot. It was caught early and he HAS NEVER had chicken pox only the vaccine. Not something I would wish on anyone. Commented on HelloLife · November 15, 2009 at 6:28 PM

  • Smartliving Guest Smartliving Guest

    I had shingles when I was 11 or 12. I had never had chicken pox. I beleive there was no chicken pox vaccine when I was 11 or 12 which would have been 1950 or 1951. And at any rate I was not vaccinated against chicken pox. Commented on HelloLife · May 1, 2010 at 11:32 PM

  • Smartliving Guest Smartliving Guest

    From the comments here - it looks like it is NOT NECESSARY to have had chicken pox or the chicken pox vaccine to get shingles. Commented on HelloLife · May 1, 2010 at 11:37 PM

  • Smarty Smarty

    Mary,
    My son got a nasty case of shingles at age 3. He was the youngest case on record in the state of New Hampshire. When chicken pox went through our house most of the children (5) at the time got very strong cases except the baby. He got only one or two spots and we were not convinced that he actually caught chicken pox. At age 3 years he came down with a case of shingles - most of the nerves in his body were affected. They did not last long but it was definitely shingles. I believe that you need that chicken pox virus in the body to get shingles. Commented on HelloLife · May 3, 2010 at 2:58 PM

  • Smartliving Guest Smartliving Guest

    I had shingles when I was 6 for months!! They were incredibly itchy!
    And I had them in two different places Commented on HelloLife · November 15, 2010 at 9:21 PM

  • Smartliving Guest Smartliving Guest

    My daughter has been diagnosed with shingles, today, she is 9 and never had chicken pox. Commented on HelloLife · March 15, 2011 at 9:09 AM

  • Smartliving Guest Smartliving Guest

    My Daughter is 9 now, she has had shingles 6 times since the age of 3! She also as many others of you have stated did not have chicken pox prior to shingles but her MD did say more and more children are getting shingles versus Chicken Pox now that we are giving the Varicella vac.! Hers usually starts on her back or under her arms!! I have an immune def. which my immuno doc. says is related to me having chicken pox 2 times (both bad cases) as a child which then was a lil rare!! So definitly a lil concerned this may be an issue we will be facing in the near future!! :( Commented on HelloLife · June 6, 2011 at 5:05 AM

  • Smartliving Guest Smartliving Guest

    My very healthy and extremely active breast fead 11 year old now has a mild case of shingles.....he has never had chicken pox and was immunized for it. He mentioned a pain in his arm, that coupled with what we thought was contact dermatitis prompted us to seek out our family doctor. He played 7 games of road hockey this weekend and enjoyed 2 hours of golf, and 2 soccer games....he seems no worse for ware...hope this helps.....he would fall into the healthy but got the very freakish chance of contracting the virus from the vaccine. Commented on HelloLife · June 21, 2011 at 9:09 PM

  • Charli Charli

    My 10 yr old daughter developed a rash under her arm, more on her back and her school nurse said it looks like shingles, she doesn't have health insurance because of the stupid medicaid laws here and I thought it was just a rash, I have to take her to the er when she gets home from school and I feel bad because I didn't realize it could be something this serious, I didn't think kids could get it, and she also HAS NOT had chickenpox... What is the point of the vaccine if they get something worse! Commented on HelloLife · January 19, 2012 at 12:04 PM

  • Danielle Danielle

    I'm now 17 years old. I got shingles almost five years ago, five days before Christmas of 2007. At first I just thought it was a rash, but then the pain started. I went to the walk in and with a single look, the doctor said it was shingles. I was taken out of school, and was taking heavy pain medications as well as medications to push the virus back. It's been so long, but I still can't do much with my arm where I got shingles. It's still too painful. Commented on HelloLife · July 5, 2012 at 4:39 PM

  • bonnie bonnie

    i gave my daughter a bath and noticed a lot of round spots all over her legs some had clear blisters on them and others did not. she was crying when i was drying her off stepping from foot to foot saying it hurt i asked where and she showed me almost every spot. i didn't know if it is shingles or ringworm so i put some anti-fungal on it and covered it with a band aid the only place she said hurt but did not have any spots was her lower back. she wouldn't stand on one leg but for a few seconds. i am worried about it and wondered if maybe it was the beginning of ringworm or the beginning of shingles. i just don't remember ringworm ever hurting. there are ten to fifteen spots on her legs. could it be ringworm or is it shingles. when i had ringworm as a child i would only get two maybe three spots and she has a lot more then that. i am worried about it because we have a six month old and what i read states that shingles itself isn't contagious however if someone has shingles they can give the other party or person chicken pox. should i wait and see if the anti-fungal cream helps or should i take her to the er. we do not have insurance on her but do on the other children. we haven't been able to get hers reinstated yet. Commented on HelloLife · October 15, 2012 at 10:09 PM

  • casey casey

    we just took my brother-in-law to the hospital and they told him he was TOO young to get shingles! he is 32 years old! and my sister-in-laws sister is 11 and they said it was bed bugs, but bed bugs dont leave a rash like that and its not painful. and shes had chicken pox twice, she just got over it recently and now the rash is painful and very large rashes all over her body. its just rediculous that a doctor would say a 32 yr old is too young to have shingles and an 11 yr old...after all the comments i just read, it really angers me. Commented on HelloLife · November 10, 2012 at 12:03 AM

  • Phil Phil

    I had the shingles as a child, around 1968, I was 4 or 5. It affected my left leg, which caused me to lose the ability to walk, at that time I was hospitalized for treatment. Within a week I did regain my ability to walk. However 43 years later, I have problems with the nerves in my affected leg, I'm wondering if the two are related. Commented on HelloLife · January 20, 2013 at 6:07 PM

  • Jay Jay

    I had shingles when I was 5 years old and it was the most painful thing I've ever endured in my 55 years of life. It left permanent nerve damage. And I had never had chicken pox. The scars are still very visable today as well. And I was given perigoric for the pain. Nothing like creating an addictive personality at an early age... Commented on HelloLife · March 3, 2013 at 4:13 AM

  • Kaitlin Kaitlin

    That is untrue. i had shingles at age 3. i woke up with a scab over my eye and one on my forehead. therefore its not always a rash. I was one of the first children diagnosed with shingles, took 3 hospitals and 4 speacialists to realize i had shingles. this was back in early 2000 In Ontario/Durham. It might not always be a rash and on the torso. But if your kid is like me and got in on their eye there is a possibility of going blind if you dont treat it right away. Commented on HelloLife · June 8, 2013 at 3:54 PM

  • lili lili

    im really scared. All I can say is that I am 12 I read this and freaked out because my nanas roommate in the hospital has shingles and im scared I might have it. I have no idea how they check people for it and get rid of it. im scared I might die. no website will tell me whats going on because the website comments say its wrong and idk if the chickenpox vaccination will keep it away will it? im really crying right now please help! Commented on HelloLife · June 15, 2013 at 9:48 PM

  • MK MK

    I agree with one comment about shingles. I got shingles when I was 6 yrs. old and according to my childhood medical records NEVER had chicken pox. The shingles was ALL I had at 6 and NEVER had any other medical problem since, I am now 58. But in disagreement with the medical field, one does NOT need to have had the chicken pox first or ever to have shingles, because I did not ever have chicken pox ever and got shingles and at 6 yrs. old, it was PAINFUL all over my body. I broke out terribly. My dad had to carry me everywhere, I could not sit very well, at all, could not lay down very well I could not do anything very well because of the painful blisters that eventually oozed and teared and it HURT BADLY. I will NEVER forget shingles, I could get it again too at 58. My mother had shingles once and got them again years later in her senior yrs. Commented on HelloLife · June 30, 2013 at 10:54 PM

  • MK MK

    Ps. I wish the medical professionals would stop telling people that shingles only happens if you have had chicken pox. It is so untrue. Also people CAN get shingles again, my mother did and my sister did and I could get it again too. These commercials about if you have had chicken pox the shingles virus is already inside you is FALSE. just because you have the shingles does NOT mean you had the chicken pox. In some people maybe, but NOT all. They say that normally children do not get the shingles, why not, kids are around a LOT of kids that pass illnesses constantly, and if shingles CAN be caused by stress, I was and a lot of kids are under lots of stress. The medical society is still learning. Commented on HelloLife · June 30, 2013 at 11:05 PM

  • Colin Colin

    WORD OF ADVICE: if you have recurring episodes of shingles, catch it early and see doctor so you can get antibiotics to treat it, this well delay worsening of virus. Commented on HelloLife · July 27, 2013 at 2:51 AM

  • Colin Colin

    I agree with MK, the commercials are lying, you can have chickenpox, and have no shingles at all, the virus just goes away sometimes, and you can get it at any age, they make it seem that only adults get it. One thing I have noticed however, is many people here leave a comment saying that their child had no case of chickenpox, what happened with me was I had a small case of chickenpox, barely noticeable, then I got shingles, it just seems that I never had chickenpox. Commented on HelloLife · July 27, 2013 at 2:57 AM

  • z z

    Antiviral meds help but must be taken within 72 hours from when the rash first occurs,
    for the meds to work best. Commented on HelloLife · August 8, 2013 at 9:09 PM

  • patricia patricia

    reading this i am beginning 2 wonder has my child shingles???at 8 mnts 2 doctors told me he has them his never had chicken pox has da rash almost 3 weeks now on his thigh where the nerves meet it doesn,t seem 2 bother him. Commented on HelloLife · September 23, 2013 at 5:49 PM

  • Renee Renee

    My daughter is 15 and has shingles again. She had shingles when she was 7 and chicken pox when she was 9 months old. She did not get the chicken pox vaccine because she had the chicken pox. She is on Valtrex and hopefully this outbreak won't last as long as the last time. The outbreak is on her shoulder and covered with multiple bandages and her clothes, of course. It is not contagious until the blisters break open and someone has to touch the oozing blisters. She is fine at school except for the extreme pain, but is taking Advil and decided that she would be in pain wherever she is so why miss school and have to make up the work.
    It is possible that some infants have a mild case of chicken pox and parents don't even realize that the baby has it. Therefore the virus is in their system and dormant until shingles develops.
    My question is whether she can get a shingles vaccine? The CDC only approved the vaccine for adults 70 and older, but she would benefit from another vaccine. I read an article from Harvard Medical that said additional outbreaks of shingles in a person can happen every 6-10 years (most @8 years) which is the time frame she is currently experiencing. My daughter is not immune-comprised and rarely gets sick so she doesn't fit the usual profile for patients that have multiple shingle episodes. I wish I could get help for her! Commented on HelloLife · October 10, 2013 at 8:25 AM

  • lorraine lorraine

    My daughter had severe chicken pox at 18 months old - my son was only 3 months old at the time and only had 2 small spots on his ear - my daughter is now 11 -and has never had shingles but my son had shingles at age 4 and is now 10 and has shingles again front and back - would like some opinions on wheather this is because he had chicken pox so mild - my GP says no - this is nothing to with it - just bad luck - but I am very worried as on various chat forums on shingles is says tthat shingled in children can be an indicator of other health issues - would be grateful for any feedback. Commented on HelloLife · November 21, 2013 at 8:23 AM

  • hezza hezza

    my daughter is 27 months old and has shingles, they appeared on her leg near the crease of the knee and have spread to her back. she doesn't seem to be ill with them but now they are scabbing over they seem to itch a little. shes had them for a week so far.....she also had chicken pox at 10 months old Commented on HelloLife · December 6, 2013 at 7:39 AM

  • haley haley

    when i was 11 i got shingles. i missed like 10 days of school. it hurt so bad. i only cried once. im tough :) Commented on HelloLife · March 13, 2014 at 12:28 PM

  • Carolynne Carolynne

    My son is 14 and has got shingles and was in a lot of pain with it. He has two small sections on his back which is the painful area and a small section on his chest. rnHe has had chickenpox twice when he was 4 and then at 5 which was really bad. My son is having his internal tests at school this month and I wondered if some stress had caused this to erupt and he has not really got over a cough and cold.rn Commented on HelloLife · January 22, 2015 at 8:02 AM


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