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.


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.


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