Who gets shingles?

If you have had chicken pox, you can get shingles. The virus that causes chicken pox (Varicella Zoster)  can remain in the nerve cells of your spine then reactivate at any point in your life. Illness, stress, and trauma can reactive it as can a weakened immune system.

Are shingles contagious?

Shingles is contagious when there are blisters on the skin because the virus is spread by direct contact with blister fluid and possibly respiratory droplets. Before the blisters erupt, the area of skin can be painful and or tingle or itch. In the majority of cases, shingles only affects one side of the body and causes red spots in groups that can turn into blisters.

Shingles can break out on any area of the body. If it breaks out on the tip of the nose, patients should be seen by an eye doctor as soon as possible as this could signal eye involvement. Once the blisters crust and scab over, the rash is no longer contagious.

Treating shingles

If diagnosed within a few days of onset, an oral antiviral medication can clear the rash faster and decrease the chance of having pain in the involved area of skin later. Fortunately, there is a vaccine available for patients 60 years and older to reduce the chance of a shingles outbreak. Children are now immunized against chicken pox.