April 16, 2009

Is Shingles Contagious?

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

What is Shingles? Medically known as Herpes zoster, Shingles is a rash that can be caused by the virus that causes chickenpox. Varicella zoster is the name of the virus that causes shingles and chickenpox. It is believed that when a person has suffered from chickenpox, the virus continues to live in the nerves, and can flare up when the person is suffering from cancer, AIDS or emotional stress. However, this rarely happens.

How do Shingles Occur? Before the skin erupts into a rash, you may feel a burning sensation on your skin. Then shingles begin as small, red blisters, and continue to spread over the skin for the next few days. These blisters erupt on the path of the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord. Usually, a single nerve is involved; however there are cases when more than one nerve might trigger of shingles. Over time, the blisters will pop and ooze. Eventually a crust will form over the blister and heal. From beginning to end, the complete process will span over 3-4 weeks.

Contagious Shingles:

Shingles is contagious and can spread from the patient to people who haven’t ever had chickenpox. In most cases, these people develop chickenpox. It is believed that people who have had chickenpox, will never get shingles through infection. However, once a person gets affected by shingles, he can get shingles again later in life. But once the blisters develop a crust, the virus will cease to spread.


Shingles are known to heal well; however, the blisters can contract bacteria and cause cellulites, an infection of the skin that causes the area to become warm, red, firm and tender. When shingles affects the nose, forehead or other parts of the face, then it might be a cause to worry. A person then has to be careful that it doesn’t affect the eye.


You must approach your doctor for prompt treatment if you feel that you have the symptoms of shingles. Your doctor will diagnose correctly and put you on antiviral medicines to keep the pain in control.

Home Remedies:

While it is an absolute must to visit a doctor in case you have shingles, you might also want to try a few simple home remedies to reduce the pain and inflammation.

  • To control the pain, you can apply cold packs to provide relief to the hot, blistered skin. Place a cold cloth on the affected area and pour ice cool water on it. Keep repeating this action until the pain subsides. A compress using cold milk is another alternative to cool the warm area.
  • Get as much rest as you can to assist your immune system.