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What are shingles? – Is Shingles Contagious? – Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

Is Shingles Contagious – Humans can develop diseases with age. Even if you are taking good care of your overall health, it doesn’t mean that you are going to stay away from diseases. Several types of diseases can develop with age, and shingles are one of them.

Shingles are a very painful condition that is caused by the same virus that is known to cause chickenpox. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States believe we record millions of cases of shingles each year. That is why the right knowledge regarding the disease becomes very important for everyone.

Today, we are here to talk about shingles contagious, along with other details regarding the disease.

What are shingles?

Shingles are a very painful condition that is also known as the common infection of the nerves. The disease is caused by a similar virus which is also known to cause chickenpox. 

If you have ever been diagnosed with chickenpox or have received the vaccine for the same, then there is a probability that you can develop shingles after the age of 50. Yes, people who have never been diagnosed with chickenpox can develop shingles if they receive the vaccine for chickenpox.

The chickenpox vaccine is going to contain the virus. Similar to the infection, the virus in the vaccine is going to stay inactive in your life, but low immunity can once again trigger the virus, and this time, it is going to cause shingles.

If you have been diagnosed with chickenpox, then next time, it is not going to be chickenpox but shingles.

Is Shingles Contagious?

No, shingles are not a contagious disease, but a person can spread the virus when the shingles reach the blisters phase. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest everyone cover the rash and blisters as much as possible.

Now, you must be wondering how shingles spread because it is not a contagious disease, and there must be something that could cause the spread of the virus.

First of all, there is a probability that the shingles virus can spread from a person who has been infected with shingles to someone who has never had chickenpox. If you are one of those people who has never developed chickenpox, then you should stay away from someone single.

People who have already developed chickenpox in their lifespan are going to develop antibodies against the virus. There aren’t enough chances that you will ever develop chicken pox twice in your life.

Usually, the virus is spread when the blisters have not formed in crusty crabs. Once the blisters have formed crusty crabs, it is not going to spread the virus. At the same time, you can cover the blisters to contain the spread of the virus.

There is no possibility that you can get shingles through close contact with someone who has been infected with the virus. The virus is not going to spread like COVID-19, such as coughing or sneezing

Is Shingles Contagious
Is Shingles Contagious

Symptoms of Shingles

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States has released a list of symptoms related to shingles. We are going to take the reference from those symptoms, but you should be aware that there could be many more symptoms that might not be part of the list given below.

As soon as you start developing shingles, you will experience below given symptoms, including:

  1. Headaches
  2. Fever and chills
  3. Upset stomach
  4. Feeling generally unwell
  5. Tingling
  6. Burning
  7. Numbness 
  8. Pain in the skin

These are the common symptoms, but as the disease is going to signs of progresses, you will experience two of the most important symptoms, which include pain and blisters.

Pain

As you might already be aware, pain is going to be a huge part of the infection of singles. The lightness of shingles travels a long enough path which is known to cause pain and strange sensations. The intensity of pain can be higher or normal, depending on your other medical conditions. 

For example, people who are already struggling with diabetes and some effects of diabetes can experience extreme levels of pain caused by shingles. On the other hand, people who do not have any disease might experience regular levels of pain.

Even if you are experiencing extreme levels of pain, kindly do not take any over-the-counter pain medication without consulting with your healthcare provider. Several over-the-counter medications for pain are not going to work, and it might create a serious situation.

Pain caused by shingles is usually treated using antidepressants and steroids. Both types of medicine are not available as of over the contract.

Blisters 

The second major thing you are going to experience during shingles is blisters. There is a probability that you might think blisters caused by shingles are a chicken pox. Your health care provider might also misdiagnose you if you have never developed chickenpox in your life, as the blisters caused by shingles are completely the same as chickenpox.

These blisters can infect others who have not been diagnosed with chickenpox in their life. The major difference between chickenpox blisters and shingles blisters is the spread. 

Blisters caused by chickenpox are going to affect your whole body, while shingles are going to spread only on one side. There is also a probability that it might not spread out of one or two areas in your body.

If the blisters or rash caused by shingles appear on your face, then you should consult with your health care provider as early as possible. Blisters on the face are known to cause permanent damage.

What are the Major Causes of shingles?

Before we start talking about the diagnosis and treatment process of shingles, let’s take a quick look at all the causes of the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States has already mentioned on its official website that it is caused by a similar virus that is known to cause chickenpox.

If you have ever been diagnosed with chickenpox in your life, then there is a probability that you can develop shingles after the age of 50. 

On the other hand, people who have received the vaccine for chickenpox and they never developed the disease are also equally vulnerable to developing shingles.

The vaccine for chickenpox also contained the virus, which is going to stay in doormat condition in your body till it is triggered. Several factors can trigger the chicken pox virus, and it becomes shingles.

  • Our immune system, due to age or any disease, can trigger shingles.
  • Emotional stress for a longer period or depression is also known to trigger shingles.
  • Several diseases and their treatment options are also known to trigger shingles.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Shingles

There are multiple ways your healthcare provider can diagnose shingles. First of all, your doctor will try to learn about your medical history during the physical exam. It will help your doctor to rule out any other probability which could be causing rashes like chickenpox or shingles.

Apart from that, it will also help your doctor understand your relationship with the virus. Your doctor can easily diagnose shingles by taking a look at all the symptoms and patterns of your rash.

In some cases, your healthcare provider might ask you to go for skin scrapings for testing.

Once your doctor has successfully diagnosed you, then your doctor will suggest you go for the treatment depending on your condition. Treatment for shingles can be different for each person

  • Your doctor will take a look at your overall health, medical history, and age before suggesting any treatment.
  • Apart from that, your doctor will also consider the severity of the symptoms and how long you have been affected.
  • Your other medical conditions, including diabetes, will also be considered before suggesting any treatment option.

Usually, healthcare providers suggest everyone go for creams and lotions to lower the intensity of blisters. Apart from that, your doctor can also suggest you go for some antivirals and steroids to lower the pain.

Do not take any medicine on your own without consulting with your health care provider.

How do we avoid the spread of shingles?

Shingles is not a contagious disease, but still, you should be trying to contain the spread of the virus as much as possible. It can affect some people who have never developed chickenpox in their life. You should try to cover all the rashes caused by shingles and frequently wash your hands. Apart from that, you can also avoid the sink or scratching all of your rashes. Shingles are not going to spread through respiratory droplets but the rashes and blisters.

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