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Memphis, TN
A 46-year-old female asked:

should i go to work with shingles? it is on my chest, left arm and left hand. i am on valtrex (valacyclovir) but do not want to spread chicken pox at work. help.

4 doctor answers12 doctors weighed in
Dr. Randy Baker
Holistic Medicine 40 years experience
Unlikelly to spread: Most people have had chickenpox and the ones who don't did not because they have been vaccinated. Thus, it seems highly unlikely that you would spread it. In addition, it is not easy for someone to catch chickenpox from you- they would need to have direct contact with your lesions or liquid from the lesions. It might be wise to wear a glove on your hand and keep your arm covered (long sleeves).
Dr. J. Lawrence Dohan
Dermatology 57 years experience
I was asked to consult on a patient in the psych unit and found acute zoster. 2 weeks later I was called to see a person who had acute varicella. This was a psych unit and the 2nd person had been in the hospital 2 weeks and had inherited that same room. Coincidence?
Oct 9, 2017
Dr. John Leander Po
Infectious Disease 18 years experience
Direct contact risk : Consider not going to work if there is a risk of people coming into direct contact with the vesicles - wait until they have scabbed over. Moreover, you may need to reconsider going back to work if you are taking strong pain meds like oxycodone, and you operate heavy or dangerous machinery.
Dr. J. Lawrence Dohan
Dermatology 57 years experience
Who will be exposed?: The scabs are also a source of varicella virus. Taking valacyclivir makes you much less contagious. Must be careful of even proximity to people with low immunity such as transplant patients, those on chemo, especially for lymphomas, etc. But most people are already immune. You cannot transmit shingles but are able to give chicken pox until all the scabs are gone.
Dr. James Ferguson
Pediatrics 46 years experience
Things to ponder: Those with shingles do not spread CPX airborne in a cough or in saliva like a kid with chickenpox. It can only be spread by the debris from the sores. If you have that covered and everybody practices good hand washing, it should never transfer. Data suggests 90%+ of adults are immune anyway.

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Last updated Nov 28, 2017

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