And while stress may not directly cause or trigger shingles, there is a link between the two. Large amounts of stress can wear away at the body's immune system, lowering its ability to defend against all sorts of viruses—shingles included.
The only way you can get shingles is if you've had chickenpox first. If someone has shingles and is at the blister stage when contagious, he or she could transmit the virus to you—but you would get chickenpox, not shingles.
Is shingles contagious? It is not possible to catch shingles from someone else with the condition, or from someone with chickenpox. However, it is possible for someone who has never had chickenpox to catch it from someone with shingles, as the shingles blisters contains the live virus.
Any child or adult who has never had chickenpox or been vaccinated against it is at risk for getting the disease. Chickenpox is passed from person-to-person by direct contact or through the air by coughing and sneezing. It can also be spread by being exposed to the fluid from the blistering rash.
A person can get VZV, which causes chickenpox, from someone with shingles if they have never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine. People cannot get shingles without having recovered from chickenpox. The reactivation of VZV in a person's body causes shingles.
You have immunity if you've had chickenpox before or have had the chickenpox vaccine. If you have immunity it means you can't get chickenpox, but you can still get shingles later in life. Tests may be done on people who don't have or are unsure about immunity and are at higher risk of complications from VZV.
People 60 years of age or older should get shingles vaccine (Zostavax). They should get the vaccine whether or not they recall having had chickenpox, which is caused by the same virus as shingles.
Bed rest, especially during the early phase of shingles and if fever is present. Topical (skin-based) agents. Cool compresses applied to affected skin areas.
If patients don't remember whether they ever had chickenpox, they can take a simple blood test to find out. Some people should avoid the vaccine, he said: those who are HIV positive, have cancer or are pregnant, or people on steroids or who recently took steroids.
How Does Shingles Happen? The only way you can get shingles is if you've had chickenpox first. If someone has shingles and is at the blister stage when contagious, he or she could transmit the virus to you—but you would get chickenpox, not shingles.
A person with active shingles can spread the virus through direct contact with fluid from the rash blisters. Shingles are less contagious than chickenpox, and the risk of a person with shingles spreading the virus is low if the rash is covered. Once the rash has developed crusts, the person is no longer infectious.
If someone is taking shingles sick leave, they shouldn't need a lot of time off. They can come back once they feel better, in the event of a fever—but if they have a rash on exposed skin, they should really stay off work until this has crusted over. This can take around seven days.
If you have shingles, you are contagious until the last blister has scabbed over. This will usually occur after about 10 to 14 days.
Answer: Shingles cannot spread from one person to another. However, the virus that causes shingles (varicella-zoster virus) can spread from a person with active shingles to someone who is not immune to chickenpox (most people have had a chickenpox infection or vaccinated against chickenpox).
Adults eligible for the shingles vaccine can receive it, even if they do not remember having had chickenpox (varicella) disease. Before shingles vaccination, do not get a blood test for chickenpox disease history.
The disease is very contagious: 90% of people who have never had the disease themselves and are exposed to someone with it will catch it. While chickenpox is usually little more than an itchy annoyance, it does have a serious side.
The virus is spread through direct contact with the rash or through breathing in virus particles that get mixed in the air. Once the rash has developed crusts, the person is no longer contagious. A person is not infectious before blisters appear or if pain persists after the rash is gone (post-herpetic neuralgia).
Should someone with shingles stay home from work or school? In general, as long as the lesion can be covered, a person with shingles does not need to stay home from work or school. Health care workers and others working with high-risk individuals should remain home from work until the blisters have scabbed over.
It's possible to have shingles more than once, but it's very rare to get it more than twice. It's not known exactly why the shingles virus is reactivated at a later stage in life, but most cases are thought to be caused by having lowered immunity (protection against infections and diseases).
If you've never had chickenpox and are vaccinated against the disease, you can't get shingles. Even so, it's believed that most people over 50 years old within the United States are vulnerable to developing shingles.
What about people that never got chickenpox? While never getting chickenpox as a child may seem like a cause for celebration, the opposite is true. For people that never contracted the childhood disease, a risk still exists for contracting shingles as an adult.
If it turns out that you've never been exposed to chickenpox, consider getting vaccinated against the virus to protect against any future exposure.
What causes shingles? Shingles is caused when the chickenpox virus is reactivated. After a person has had chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in certain nerves for many years. Shingles is more common in people with weakened immune systems, and in people over the age of 50.