Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Are my shingles contagious?"
Are shingles contagious like having a cold is contagious? Like does it go through the air. My shingles are almost gone, but I don?t want to spread by going back to work too soon.
Shingles are caused by a virus that is contagious if there are open sores on your skin from the shingles rash. It is usually spread through touching things that are contaminated with the virus. Washing your hands can help prevent the spread. The virus that causes shingles is the same virus that causes chicken pox. Since most people are immune to chicken pox, there is a reduce likelihood of transmitting the virus from one person to another. This is not true for small children and older folks that may not have the same robust immune systems of everyone else. Most people get shingles when their immune systems are not working correctly. If you had chicken pox as a child, the virus is the same virus that gave you chicken pox. It is still alive inside you, but your immune system keeps it from causing a re-infection. Since you got shingles, there must have been something that happened to you to bring your immune system down just enough that the virus living in your body became activated. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. If your outbreak of shingles is relatively new (which it sounds like it may not be), there is still a chance that you can reduce the time of the outbreak by taking a medication. Your doctor may be able to provide that for you.
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