So, is shingles contagious? To answer your question right away—yes, shingles are contagious. Transmission of the shingles-causing virus can occur through contact with the fluid that comes the shingles rash.
Shingles are caused by a virus called the Varicella zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. Take note that shingles only occur to people who had chickenpox before. If an individual hasn’t been infected by the virus yet, the infection may manifest as chickenpox.
Now, shingles are like the reawakening of chickenpox, if you will. The Varicella zoster virus has the ability to be in an individual’s nerve tissue for their lifetime. Most of the time, the virus in the nerve tissue stays inactive, thanks to your immune system. However, if your immune system failed in a certain period, it may not store the virus any longer and might reactivate again. This causes an individual to have shingles.
How Shingles Spread
An individual with shingles can propagate the virus to someone who has not experienced chickenpox. It strikes people who have not experienced chickenpox because their bodies have not developed antibodies yet to combat the varicella-zoster virus.
Shingles are characterized by open, and oozing blisters. The virus spreads upon contact to not scabbed blisters. If the person’s oozing shingle blisters come in contact with another’s skin who had never experienced chickenpox, that person might have chicken pox. When the blisters formed into crusty scabs, upon contact, the virus does not spread any more. At this stage, the virus is not contagious anymore. The blisters are already protected and dry.
Most of the time, you can not get shingles by liquid secretion except in some cases. You cannot get the virus by the hosts who coughs and sneezes around.
Who Can Get Shingles?
Anybody that has chickenpox may have shingles. When you acquire the virus in your body, it stays there for a lifetime. It is only the immune system that suppresses the breaking out of the virus. However, there are times when your body’s immune system fail, during this time of weakness, the virus might reactivate again. The virus reactivation might cause shingles. Any people at any certain age point can have shingles but it is more common on old ages.
Shingles is pretty common. In America alone, almost half of their population will experience shingles. Be cautious on times when your immune system is weaker than the usual, the shingles virus can reactive from any moment on that point. Look out for signs of your immune system getting weaker. For example, you are experiencing massive stress, trauma, or you have a simple cold or flu.
Symptoms of Shingles
Early signs of shingles can include flu-like symptoms. The more significant symptom is the appearance of painful blisters.
The physical appearance of shingles looks like chicken pox. Appearances are characterized by raised bumps with fluid inside that crust over for some time.
Chickenpox blisters can occur in almost all areas of the body. In shingles, it can only occur in one spot of the body. The favorite special area of appearance o shingles is in the torso or your waist. This is where the shingles term is founded, based on the Latin word “belt”. Rarely, the side of the face might have shingles, if this occurs in the face, see a physician.
Shingles appear, following a series of nerves. This causes the weird sensation of combined pain and burning at first. Before your blisters appear, you might feel a tingle, itchiness, and inflamed area in which it will appear. The intensity of the pain has a lot of versions. The pain can be not that easy to treat with just medications you see in drugstores. The physician will have to prescribe stronger and potent medications to suppress the pain like antidepressants or steroids.
Timeline of Shingles
People with shingles can thankfully have the pain only for a shorter period of time and has a quick duration of recovery. In most cases, people usually have an episode once in their whole lifetime. Shingles outbreak are temporary and can clear up to four weeks. Upon clearance though, it may leave certain alterations to your overall condition.
Pain associated with shingles can last for several days or rarely in months. Having shingles at an older age is longer and more persistent compared to having it when you are younger. Another advantage of having shingles at a young age is there is a little chance for scarring once the raised bump filled fluids clear.
There are medical advances which features these kinds of virus conditions. This prevents the reactivation of the virus and fewer people might experience both in some time forward.
What to Do to Avoid Spreading Shingles
You are not likely to spread the virus via shingles compared to chickenpox (which is viciously contagious by the way). However, in most cases, you can propagate the virus during the appearance of rashes and blisters.
You can have your daily business though like work if you have shingles but be careful to follow the follow these precautions:
- Always keep your shingles clean and well covered. This is to prevent physical skin contact with other people.
- Always wash your hands with soap and leave your blisters out of your touch.
- Avoid pregnant women at all cost. The virus can pose a serious health threat to both the woman and her baby. Risks that can happen to both pregnant woman and baby includes birth defects or pneumonia. Let her know immediately if ever you have come in contact with her so she could get a recommendation and first aid prevention from her attending physician. Do not go around pregnant women who haven’t had chickenpox yet or have not received any vaccine against it.
- Avoid at all cost people that are susceptible to the shingles virus with a developing immune system. Do not go near babies, toddlers, or infants with abnormally low-weights. In general, avoid children especially those who have had not experienced chickenpox or did not receive any vaccines to prevent it. In addition to that, avoid people who have a weak immune system. Telltale signs of people who have a weak immune system are those people who have been diagnosed with ailments related to failing immune system.
The Shingles Vaccine
Shingles and chickenpox vaccine are different from one another. Getting a vaccine shot of both is a lot of help in reducing your risk of contracting either. Even if you are as old as 60 years old, you can still get both vaccine shots.