Why Is Shingles Contagious?

Shingles. You’ve probably heard of it. It’s caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox; only it comes out as blisters that ooze and don’t have scabs. They cause a tremendous amount of pain, and, since the virus stays in the body forever, a flare-up of shingles can last quite a while – or until the immune system gets the virus back under control.

The more you know about this illness, the virus that causes it, and how to treat it, the more quickly you can heal your rash and get back to living your life.

What causes it?

Almost anyone who has had the varicella-zoster virus can wind up getting shingles. It causes chickenpox, and, unlike other types of viruses, it stays in your system for the rest of your life. Ordinarily, it’s relatively easy for your immune system to control the virus and prevent a flare-up. Sometimes, though, when the immune system is at a low, it cannot keep the virus under control, and since you’ve already had chickenpox, this time, it comes out as painful open blisters.

Most of the time, it will appear on the torso or the face. If you wind up with a rash on your face, you must seek medical attention right away. When it appears on the torso, it often wraps around the waist and can cause burning or tingling at the site before a rash even develops. Some even notice that they have itching or sensitivity when the affected area is touched. A good cream for shingles should be used right away to ease some of the more severe symptoms.

When varicella-zoster flares up a second time, it travels along nerve paths, which is what causes the odd skin sensations and can often last longer than the rash itself. For most people, the pain, burning, and itching are the worst part of the illness, as it has been known to cause extreme discomfort.

It is caused by a virus, which means that it is contagious. If the rash or blisters have scabbed and dried or well covered, you cannot spread it anymore. If a person has already had chickenpox, they will not be affected by your illness, as they already carry the virus themselves.

For this reason, it’s crucial to ensure that children or others who have not had the virus take special precautions such as wearing gloves if they have to tend to your rash so that they don’t risk getting the virus themselves. Also, be sure to wash your hands frequently, and try to avoid touching the blisters if you can. Shingles cream can help in this area.

You should also ensure that you avoid pregnant women, as they can develop serious health complications, such as pneumonia. It’s also a good idea to stay away from people who have a compromised immune system.

Who is affected by it?

Most of the time, this illness affects the elderly. It is fairly common, and most people will get it at some time, especially if they had chickenpox when they were younger. If you’re struggling with a weakened immune system, you might also develop it, even if you’re younger.

What are the symptoms?

Many people can begin to develop this illness and not even realize what’s happening. There are symptoms, but they often mimic other types of viruses. They include:

• Headache with sensitivity to light

• Fever

• Just not feeling well

• Fatigue

• Itching, burning skin

• Rash with oozing blisters

Not everyone will notice the other symptoms of this virus because many people don’t get them.

Yes, it can be treated!

You should seek medical attention as soon as you think you have this illness or as soon as you see a rash. It’s important to get treatment to reduce the severity of your symptoms and help yourself heal as quickly as possible.

Since this virus can attack almost any part of your body, it’s essential to ensure that you don’t have a difficult situation without realizing it.

Your doctor may prescribe you an antiviral medication to help reduce how severe your illness becomes. It also might help to prevent an extensive or painful rash.

You might also find that antihistamines are an excellent option to prevent some of the common itching. There are some shingles cream options to choose from, which can help ease the burning and pain and protect the open blisters.

Your doctor can recommend a good cream for shingles to help ease your symptoms topically. If you are not severely ill, over the counter pain medications can be helpful.

In serious cases, your health care provider might choose to offer antidepressant or prescription pain medications.

The good news…

If there is a silver lining to the situation, it’s that most of the time, those who are affected by a second flare of the virus will experience a full recovery with minimal long-lasting effects. Some people notice that their skin sensations last for a while after the rash has healed, but over time, that usually diminishes.