FindaTopDoc Looks Into: Why Is Shingles Contagious?

(PR NewsChannel) / April 5, 2017 / New York 

Shingles is a contagious viral infection that is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. This virus affects a particular nerve section, causing painful rashes on the skin connected to that particular nerve. The rash normally appears in the form of a band on any part of your body. FindaTopDoc has taken a closer look at Shingles and how and why it spreads.

Shingles mostly occurs in elderly people, especially those who don’t have healthy immune systems due to various factors: physical and mental stress, medications, and some wounds and injuries. Though this infection is not fatal, it can be very painful and the symptoms may take a couple of weeks to go away.

Reasons for developing shingles

Anyone who has had chickenpox can develop this infection. Once the person recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains, albeit inactive, in the nerve roots near the spinal cord. This virus may become active after a few years when the individual has aged or has a weak immune system. The virus then moves through the nervous system and affects the skin. It is the reactivated virus that causes shingles.

If a person has not had chickenpox and whose immunity is weak, contracting this infection through contact with the blisters of a person with shingles is possible. However, once the blisters have crusted over, the virus can no longer infect others.

Transmission of shingles

A person who has shingles cannot transmit shingles to another person, but a person can get chickenpox from someone who is infected with shingles. This is possible when the person without shingles has not had chickenpox before.

Rashes caused by shingles are infectious until they have completely dried up. However, if the rashes are properly covered, the virus cannot infect others, since it is transmitted only through direct contact with blisters.

In other words, shingles can cause chickenpox in someone who has never had chickenpox. In this instance, a person with the varicella zoster virus can pass it on to another person because it is not present in that person’s body. This leads to chickenpox. If you haven’t had chickenpox but happen to touch any oozing shingles blisters, you may contract chickenpox.

This virus doesn’t spread after the blisters have dried up and formed crusty scabs, or when the lesions are covered up. Less commonly, contact with the saliva or nasal secretions of an individual who has shingles, for example when the person coughs or sneezes, may cause chickenpox in a person who has not had it.

Shingles rash

A rash starts to appear once the symptoms below show up:

·         Burning

·         Skin tingling, itching and/or stinging

·         Numbness, usually on one side of the body, or a stabbing pain on one side

·         Body aches

·         Nausea

·         Fever and chills

Once the rash appears and blisters start forming, the virus becomes contagious.

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SOURCE:  International Association of HealthCare Professionals

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