Shingles symptoms have been listed below. Most times we ask the question “is shingles contagious?” continue reading to find out!
This write up is divided into heading which makes reading it much easy and fun.
Is shingles contagious?
SHINGLES (HERPES ZOSTER)
Shingles herpes zoster is an infection of a nerve area which affects that skin that it supplies. It occurs when the chickenpox virus that is dormant in you after becomes reactivated. The same virus that causes shingles is the same that causes chicken pox.
It results in pain that is localized in nature, a formation of blisters, itching, a burning sensation. The rash can last for about 2-4 weeks, and can occur at any age.
The reactivation of this chickenpox virus can be as a result of some triggers such as stress, illnesses like HIV/AIDS, a compromised immune system from series of chemotherapy, and it is also common in older people since the process of aging takes a dive at the immune system.
Symptoms of shingles only occur on the part of the skin that is supplied by the nerve. The symptoms include:
- Rash which is more painful than itchy
- Tingling sensation
Shingles symptoms usually occur in stages:
- Stage 1: this is called the prodromal stage or period before the appearance of a rash. It is characterized by pain, burning sensation, itching, chills, diarrhea, swollen lymph nodes, and sometimes stomach ache.
- Stage 2: this is also known as the active stage which is the period when rashes become present. It is evident by pain, rashes which appear only on one side of the body, neck, cheek, nose, around the eye blisters containing fluids
IS SHINGLES CONTAGIOUS?
Shingles are contagious only to people who have never suffered from the chicken pox virus. An individual who has suffered from the chicken pox virus already has an inactive shingles virus in his or her system and cannot be reactivated even when a close relative has an active shingles virus.
Shingles spread only to people who have never had chickenpox before, and when you come in contact with a person suffering from shingles, you do not get shingles but the original virus which is chicken pox.
You can also contract it when your immune system is weakened. And shingles is actually not as contagious as chickenpox.
Shingles vaccine (Zostavax) is given to individuals from 60 years and above which is advised since it prevents older people from getting shingles since shingles easily affect older people. It is a live vaccine and is given as a dose. Some people can still get shingles even though there had the vaccination, but the duration shortens. The side effects can include;
- Swollen and itchy injection site
- Rash which can look like a chicken pox rash
Avoid vaccination if you have cancer which affects the lymphatic system, if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, if you are allergic to gelatin or any components found in the shingles vaccine or if your immune system is already compromised by immunosuppressing drugs like steroids.
There is no known cure for shingles. Some treatments for shingles include:
- Antiviral drugs: examples include; famciclovir, acyclovir or valacyclovir. This is to relieve the pains and also shorten how long it lasts.
- Analgesics: examples include; Acetaminophen, ibuprofen which can be topical in nature to reduce pain
- Antidepressants: example; amitriptyline
- Antibiotics: this can be topical which is applied directly to the affected skin to prevent infections
- Anticonvulsant: example; gabapentin, pregabalin
- Opioids: example codeine