The answer to the question, “How contagious is shingles?” can only be known after a proper diagnosis has been made. If you are not sure if you have shingles, or if you are in doubt about your diagnosis, you should contact a physician. Shingles, while generally not dangerous, can be a symptom of an infection that is much more serious.
In people who do get shingles, the virus remains dormant in the nerves and will show up with a painful rash only when someone else in the household comes into contact with the rash. This is why it is particularly important for young children to get immunized, as they are more susceptible to infection. Also, as people get older, the risk of getting shingles becomes higher. The virus lingers in the body for about six to nine months before symptoms appear. So, if you develop the rash prior to turning into an adult, you are highly likely to develop another infection as an adult. So the question of “how contagious is shingles?”
Since chickenpox is highly contagious, most people get chickenpox as children. Fortunately, the symptoms of chickenpox tend to clear up fairly quickly, so this is usually the first time that an individual will develop shingles. However, since children are prone to developing chickenpox, it is a good idea to vaccinate them against it as soon as possible, especially if other adults in the household have also had chickenpox. It is possible to catch shingles even if you have had a mild case of chickenpox in the past. However, since the infection is generally associated with elderly individuals, those with healthy immune systems are less likely to get the infection, and are thus less likely to develop shingles rash symptoms.
The name “shingles” comes from the area of the skin where the rash usually appears. The rash is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox – the varicella-zoster virus. However, the virus has mutated in some ways in the hosts when it becomes reactivated. Thus, instead of causing the same fever and other typical signs and symptoms that are associated with chickenpox, the virus causes more serious problems. For instance, most people who contract VZV will experience severe muscle pain, fatigue, headache, muscle weakness, vomiting, diarrhea and fever. Thus, it is easy to see how the infection can become extremely contagious.
Of course, there is no guarantee that individuals who have never had chickenpox will not develop shingles. But, it appears that the risk of developing shingles after a single exposure to the infection is low. This is because VZV is not the only virus that can cause shingles. For instance, the varicella-zoster virus, or RVV, can also cause outbreaks of rashes similar to shingles. It is important to note that although it is highly contagious, it usually does not spread beyond the immediate family who has the infection.
In fact, it is this very strong and infectious strain of the varicella-zoster virus that is believed to be the reason as to why many children who have never had chickenpox end up developing this condition later in life. As the RVV ages, it can weaken the body’s immune system, allowing the virus to move to various parts of the body. This leads to the appearance of shingles in various body areas, which usually takes around a week to develop.
Those who do develop chickenpox are encouraged to take extra measures to avoid spreading the disease to others. One way of doing so is to make sure they receive their vaccinations on time, since a week before or after receiving the chickenpox vaccination, it is important to remember to get the shot. It is also recommended that you wear your vaccination information on your skin, in case you become sick and need to show your vaccination documentation to healthcare professionals. However, while these tips will prevent you from spreading chickenpox, it won’t remove the chances of you contracting the illness in the first place, so it is important to boost your immune system prior to going into adulthood to prevent chickenpox.
How contagious is shingles? The only way to find out is by testing yourself and asking your healthcare professional. If you test positive for shingles, then you will have a rash that looks like chickenpox, but since shingles is caused by a different strain, it is not contagious between people. The only way to tell if you have been infected with shingles is by experiencing the symptoms. Once you have experienced the pain, itching, and redness of shingles, you can accurately say that you have been infected, making it easier for doctors and health care professionals to diagnosis and treat your rash.