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Is Shingles A Contagious Disease

Updated on February 26, 2010

Shingles that is also known as Herpes Zoster or Zoster is a medical condition in which painful blisters develop on the skin. Shingles is caused by a virus ‘Varicella Zoster Virus’ (VZV) that also causes chickenpox in humans. A person who has had chickenpox in his or her childhood is at the highest risk of developing the Shingles infection. The main symptom of Shingles is fever for four to five days accompanied with persistent headache similar to that of influenza. There is a sudden decline of energy and a person feels fatigued. A person will also face problems with the digestive system and also experience sudden chills. A rash develops and it also leads to intense itching. There is also the development of a painful blister on the patient’s skin that resembles a part of a belt or a band.

There is a common question that arises in the mind of many people and this is –Is shingles contagious? The answer is that Shingles is not a fully contagious disease. The VZV virus that is also responsible for chicken pox does spread through direct contact of any healthy person who has never had chicken pox in his or her life. This infection is spread through open wounds or blisters of a person that suffers from the shingles disease and a person does not fall prey to the infection due to informal contact that includes coughing and sneezing within the area of a person who is suffering from the Shingles disease. The only phase where this infection is contagious is when the patient has developed blisters that have clear fluid and the rash that is covering the blisters have not developed crusts.

If a person develops chickenpox, in his lifetime even after recovering from the disease, remains of the VZV virus are still present in the patient’s body for the rest of his or her life. The Shingles disease is also considered as a revisiting chickenpox disease that reappears when a person has a weak immune system that allows the virus to attack the nervous system of a person. Shingles that is generally the re-surfacing of chicken pox becomes more painful than first-time chicken pox as it irritates the person even after the patient has got rid of the painful blisters.

Since Shingles is a contagious disease it is very important for a person to keep in mind certain precautions. These precautions include the patient to cover the blisters carefully in order to stop the disease from spreading further. The treatment that has been prescribed by the doctor needs to be followed strictly and a person should avoid exposure to sunlight. The person should be kept in a dry and cool room. A person who is suffering from scabies should avoid scratching the area.

If not properly treated, shingles can lead though in very rare cases to more severe conditions like pneumonia, the malfunctioning of some organs, hearing problems, inflammation of the brain and sometimes in severe cases the death of the person.

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