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Are Shingles Contagious

Updated on June 19, 2011

Are Shingles Contagious?

Are shingles contagious and what causes the shingles pain? This is a question that is often ask. First we need to know what shingles are and what causes the shingles pain. Shingles is the common name for a condition that is more formally referred to as "herpes zoster". It is a rash that is very painful. Shingles pain has been said to be hard to describe. There are times when shingles pain can make it hard to get rest and a person with shingles certainly won't suffer from too much sleep.

The shingles pain that some say consists of burning and tingling on the skin and can be accompanied by a rash breakout. Blisters will develop along a nerve and look a lot like those of chickenpox but will not be all over the body but along the length of the path where the nerve is. The blisters will not be all over but can be anywhere the nerve goes. These blisters are only part of what cause the shingles pain and will at some point burst and scab over before they heal. The symptoms of the outbreak will usually last about four weeks although the shingles pain can last longer.

Since the outbreak runs along a nerve the shingles pain will usually be on one side of the body. Because this condition is caused by the chickenpox virus and only comes after you have had chickenpox, anyone who has had chickenpox could possibly get shingles. Being "nervous" has nothing to do with that fact that the nerve is causing shingles pain. The reason there is so much shingles pain is that the virus has made it's path that of a nerve and there is resulting inflammation and potential damage to that nerve.

There is only one way to prevent having shingles and to avoid the shingles pain altogether and that is to try to prevent being infected with the chickenpox virus in the first place with the vaccine. But the truth is it that it is still possible but far less likely since shingles is really just an awakening of the virus after a dominant period that can last years. While shingles and the shingles pain can occur at almost any age, in excess of 2/3s of the cases happen in people that are older than 50. In addition it is from 20 percent to 100 percent more likely to happen in those that have a compromised immune system and the elderly.

Shingles has to be treated as an emergency not only since it causes the sometimes severe shingles pain but because it needs to be treated as soon as possible. It is often hard to diagnosis because the first sign is not the rash but the shingles pain that can be mistaken for something else. Another reason that early diagnosis is important is that it can leave the patient with chronic shingles pain after the rash is healed.

Other things that are sometimes misdiagnosis when a case of shingles is present can be migraine headaches, heart attacks and even appendicitis. In most cases the shingles pain will eventually go away slowly after the rash has disappeared.

The national advisory committee on immunization practices says that one dose of the herpes zoster or shingles vaccine for mature adults (60 and over) is advisable to help prevent shingles. Unfortunately, it is the older group that are struck most often and the older group that are more likely to experience the shingles pain. It is a case where the older a person has more risk of shingles and the shingles pain that goes with it. One million citizens from America suffer from shingles every year.

Because shingles are caused the by reactivation of the chickenpox virus anyone can get them. Shingles lies dormant until it is activated again and starts its path along a nerve and causes the shingles pain for which it is so well known. Those that have shingles are contagious to those that have not had chicken pox and can pass it on to them but if a person has already had chicken pox there is no danger of having to experience the shingles pain because of their exposure.

It is because of the things we have laid out here that a person who has not had chicken pox can catch the virus if they come into contact with people who have active shingles sores. You do not get shingles from another person but from the chickenpox virus that lies dormant in your own body but you can get chickenpox from that person.

The important thing to remember when you ask "are shingles contagious" is that as long as the blisters have not dried up there is a danger that the chickenpox virus can be passed to anyone that has not had it yet but the one who is experiencing the shingles pain can not pass on shingles to another.

Professional Explaination For Shingles


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