Shingle is a viral infection that manifests itself by the appearance of a painful skin rash in a particular area of the body. It appears when the same virus that causes chickenpox latent in the nerve ganglia is reactivated, giving rise to those vesicles with fluid that appears along the path of the affected nerve or nerves. Therefore, it is essential to clarify that shingles only occur in those people who have already suffered from chickenpox before, but is it a contagious viral infection? In this FastlyHealarticle, we describe whether shingles are contagious, and we also detail their possible causes, the symptoms that they can cause, and the treatment that must be followed so that it is wholly cured as soon as possible. Pay attention!
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Are shingles spread?
When you have herpes zoster or someone close to you has this condition, one of the most frequent doubts that usually arises is whether or not shingles are contagious. We must clarify that herpes zoster or shingles are not spread from one person to another. However, the virus that causes this infection can be transmitted from the infected person to someone who has never suffered chickenpox. In this case, the latter would contract chickenpox and not shingles. This contagion can occur when coming into direct contact with the liquid secreted by the lesions or blisters caused by shingles.
Therefore, we can confirm that herpes zoster only develops when the patient has previously suffered from chickenpox. Both infections are caused by the same virus, and shingles occur as the second virus outbreak.
After having chickenpox, the virus remains inactive in specific body nerves, but when it is reactivated, it is when the symptoms of shingles appear. Although the causes of its reactivation are not entirely clear, specialists point out that it happens more frequently in people who have a weakened immune system (either due to drug treatments or illness), over 60 years, and children who have had chickenpox before reaching one year of life.
Herpes zoster usually manifests on one side of the body, around a nerve segment, usually in the chest or lower back, and to a lesser extent on the neck and face. Among the main symptoms of shingles are the following:
- Before the rash appears, you may experience pain and a stinging, burning, and tingling sensation in the affected area.
- This can also be accompanied by headaches, general malaise, and increased body temperature.
- After a few days, the skin rash appears to be formed by a kind of blisters with grouped fluid that run along the path of the affected nerve or nerves and that may appear red. The pain can also increase in intensity depending on the magnitude of the rash.
- Then the blisters will begin to dry out, break down, and crust over, which will eventually fall off after 2 to 3 weeks.
In addition to the shingles symptoms above, you may also have a fever, chills, abdominal pain, joint pain, and swollen lymph nodes. If the infection involves nerves in the face, symptoms may include difficulty moving specific facial muscles, drooping of the eyelid, hearing loss, difficulty moving the eye, taste problems, and vision problems.
The treatment of shingles includes taking an antiviral medication to combat the virus responsible for the infection. This type of drug reduces pain, accelerates the healing of the condition, and prevents possible complications. It is best to start taking prescribed medications before the rash appears, so it is essential to see a doctor at the first symptoms of shingles.
In addition to antivirals, treatment for shingles may also include other medications, such as anti-inflammatories to reduce pain and inflammation, antihistamines to reduce itching, and pain relievers.
In addition to medical treatments, there are specific measures that can be taken at home to reduce the pain and discomfort that shingles can cause; these are the following:
- Apply cloths dampened with cold water on the skin rash to lessen the pain.
- Clean the area with moistened gauze to avoid other types of bacterial infections.
- Reduce stress and be relaxed.
- Keep rest in case of general malaise and fever.
- To eat a balanced diet.
- Drink water throughout the day to stay well hydrated.
- Walk or do light intensity exercises to forget the pain.
- The following article shows the most effective home remedies for shingles.
How to prevent shingles
Once the question of whether herpes zoster is contagious has been clarified, we will see what measures can be taken to prevent its transmission and reduce the risk of contagion that exists if you have not suffered from chickenpox before.
- Avoid coming into contact with people who have shingles if you have not had chickenpox yet.
- Do not directly touch the blisters caused by shingles.
- Administration of the chickenpox vaccine if you are at risk.
- Wash hands frequently.
- Keep the rash covered and avoid scratching.
This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.
If you want to read more articles similar to Is shingles contagious? We recommend that you enter our Brain and Nerves category .
I am a Surgeon with a diploma in comprehensive ultrasound and surgical care residency, an area I am specializing in. During the exercise of my profession, I have realized the need for patients to know the diseases they suffer, and I can tell you that a large part of their complications is due to a lack of information. Being a health web writer allows me to transmit my experience, without borders, to all those readers eager for knowledge, educate them in the prevention of diseases and promote a healthy lifestyle.