Medically reviewed by Shilpa Amin, M.D., CAQ, FAAFP — written by Erica Roth — update on October 13, 2021

Shingles — likewise known as herpes zoster — is a problem caused through the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that reasons chickenpox.

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Shingles itself is no contagious. That can’t spread out from one person to another. However, the varicella-zoster virus is contagious. If you have shingles, you can pass the virus to an additional person, which could then cause them to construct chickenpox.

However, the virus can only be transmitted from the time blisters show up to as soon as they kind a crust, according to the Centers for disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Maintaining the rash spanned will alleviate the risk of transmission.

The varicella-zoster virus will continue to be in the person’s nerve organization for the remainder of your life. For many of the time, the virus stays in one inactive state. But it have the right to reactivate again year later. This could reason the human to construct shingles.

Read on to learn more about shingles and how to prevent the spread of the varicella-zoster virus.


How shingles spreads

The varicella-zoster virus can typically spread from a human being with shingles to who who has never had chickenpox. If a human being has had chickenpox, they usually have actually antibodies versus the virus in their body.

Shingles reasons open, oozing blisters. The varicella-zoster virus deserve to spread through call with shingles blisters the haven’t scabbed over yet. If friend haven’t had chickenpox, you can obtain the varicella-zoster virus from exposure come the virus v someone else’s open shingles blisters. This might lead come chickenpox.

The virus doesn’t spread after the blisters have developed crusty scabs. As soon as the blisters scab, they can no much longer pass on the virus. The virus additionally doesn’t spread as soon as the blisters space well covered.

You can’t gain shingles through call with the saliva or nasal secretions of who who has shingles, other than in rarely cases. That way you typically can’t get shingles if someone who has actually it coughs or sneezes on you.


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How perform you acquire shingles?
Most civilization have the varicella-zoster virus in their bodies. However the national Institute on Aging claims that it just reactivates in roughly one-third of them, so just one in three people with the virus will have shingles. Professionals do not know why part people build it, and others don’t.

However, the opportunity of this happening rises as a human being gets older. Around fifty percent of all situations occur ~ the age of 60 years, and the danger increases significantly from 70 onward.

You might additionally have a higher risk if you:

have a health condition that affect the immune system, such together HIV and some cancersare taking drugs that impact the immune system, such as those offered after an body organ transplant and some cancer treatmentshave stresshave too much sun exposure

Even a typical cold can affect the immune system and trigger shingles in part people.


Symptoms that shingles

Shingles is also known together postherpetic neuralgia because it reasons nerve pain.

Early shingles symptoms have the right to include:

headachefeeling usually unwellupset stomachtingling, burning, numbness, and pain in the skin

The most noticeable symptoms space blisters and also pain.

Blisters

The exterior symptoms of shingles watch a lot favor a case of chickenpox. Both diseases reason raised blisters that open, ooze fluid, and also crust over.

But unequal the chickenpox rash, i m sorry can happen on various parts of her body, shingles typically affects one area of her body. Shingles blisters are most prevalent on her torso, wherein they wrap approximately your waist on one side of your body. In fact, words “shingles” originates from the Latin word because that “belt.”

The shingles rash may additionally appear on one next of your face. If this happens, call a doctor immediately.

Pain

Shingles travels along a nerve path, resulting in pain and strange sensations. Her skin could tingle or feel favor it’s burning before the blisters appear. Itching and also sensitivity come touch are likewise symptoms that shingles.

Shingles pain different in severity. It can be challenging to treat v over-the-counter ache medications.

Your doctor can prescribe antidepressants or steroids. This two types of drugs can successfully relieve nerve ache in some people.


A shingles outbreak typically lasts 3 come 5 weeks. Most civilization experience pain and also discomfort for a short duration and then make a full recovery. People usually only have one illustration of shingles in their lifetime.

Shingles outbreaks space temporary, but they can have some lasting impacts on your health and also well-being.

The nerve ache of shingles have the right to linger, lasting because that weeks or also months in part cases. Generally, shingles pain is an ext persistent and also longer-lasting in enlarge adults. Younger people usually present no indicators of the an illness once the blisters have cleared up. Around 1 in 10 people develop post-herpetic neuralgia, nerve pain the can continue for month or years after the shingles rash has gone.

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Medical advances, consisting of the chickenpox and also shingles vaccines, average that fewer civilization will gain chickenpox and shingles in the future.