Shingles, Chicken Pox, And Herpes – What's The Connection?

Shingles, chicken pox, and herpes … are they related? More than you may think. Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is a viral skin infection caused by varicella zoster. This is the same herpes virus that causes chickenpox.

After chickenpox is contracted, varicella zoster remains in the body. It is believed that herpes zoster results due to the reactivation of varicella zoster. But what would cause the virus to become reactivated? The most common cause for varicella zoster reactivation is a compromised immune system. People at risk for developing shingles include:

–older adults

– People with HIV / AIDS

– people using steroid therapy

–those with Hodgkin's disease

– People sufferings from certain lymphomas

– patients with leukemia

– patients receiving radiation therapy

– patients receiving chemotherapy

–anyone who has recently had a major organ transplant

Can you contract shingles, chicken pox, and herpes in the same way?

The short answer is yes and no …

–Chicken pox is typically a childhood illness that is highly contagious. Herpes (types 1 and 2) is acquired through casual and intimate contact.

–Herpes type 1 most often affects your body above the waist. Infections that occur below the waist are typically caused by Herpes type 2 (genital herpes can also be caused by HSV1).

–Shingles is contracted differently. If you come in contact with someone who has herpes zoster, you will not contract the disease. Instead, you would contract chicken pox if you had not previously acquired the disease in childhood. If you have not had chicken pox before, avoid contact with people who have herpes zoster if lesions are uncoovered. Lesions that are covered appear to pose very little risk to demographics at risk.