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A 54-year-old member asked:

Are shingles contagious at all times?

6 doctor answers14 doctors weighed in
Dr. Marsha Davis
Internal Medicine 29 years experience
Yes: But not by droplets the way chicken pox is tramsmitted. If you touch th fluid from one of the shingles then get it in a cut or eye, mouth. Or nose and you have never had chicken pox then you could catch actual chicken pox.
Dr. William Boggs
Internal Medicine 40 years experience
Not contagious, but: Shingles is not contagious, but the virus that causes shingles (and chickenpox) can be transmitted in the fluid from the shingles lesions (not by coughing or sneezing). If these viruses are transmitted to someone who has never had chickenpox or has not received the varicella vaccine, then that person could develop chickenpox. The risk is much lower than the risk of transmitting chickenpox.
Dr. Robert Kwok
Pediatrics 34 years experience
Yes, by contact: Chicken pox and shingles are due to the same virus (the zoster virus). If a person has no good immunity to the zoster virus (never caught chicken pox, is immunosuppressed, never got the vaccine, or got the vaccine but did not make enough antibodies) then he can get a case of chicken pox from the virus in the open, moist skin lesions of the shingles patient.
Dr. Robert McMurtrie
Pain Management 24 years experience
Yes, but....: Only if you haven't had chickenpox. Chicken pox is caused by the zaricella virus. It is the same virus that causes shingles. The virus stays in your system forever, but may or may not reappear as shingles as you get older. If you haven't had chickenpox, you can "catch" the virus now if you come into contact with someone with oozing chickenpox or shingles.
Dr. John Weeks
Family Medicine 46 years experience
Yes: The fluid inside the blisters of shingles contains the varicella/zoster virus. Anyone who lacks immunity to chicken pox (varicella) could become infected if they have contact with the skin lesions of someone with shingles. Once the skin has healed there should be no risk of spreading infection.
Dr. Michael Tomeo
Dermatology 39 years experience
Yes : Especially to those never who had chicken pox.

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CA
A 35-year-old member asked:

How contagious is shingles?

2 doctor answers2 doctors weighed in
Dr. Scott Beede
Internal Medicine 33 years experience
Very, sort of.: When a person has chicken pox they never completely get rid of the virus. It hides in nerve cells. As immunity falls over time the virus can reactivate, travel to the skin and causes shingles. If you have never had, or been vaccinated for, chicken pox you could catch chicken pox from someone with shingles. Shingles exposure is also dangerous for pregnant women and the immune suppressed.
A 57-year-old female asked:

Is shingles contagious?

4 doctor answers10 doctors weighed in
Dr. Stephen Daquino
Sports Medicine 22 years experience
Yes: Its a reactivation of the chicken pox virus. Until all the vesicles have crusted over, you can give it to anyone who hasn't had chicken pox or the vaccine. Avoid exposure to young kids, pegnant, elderly, frail, or folks with lowered immune systems.

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Last updated Sep 14, 2017

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