The question is – is shingles contagious? The answer to this question is both in the affirmative and negative. Shingles that is caused by the herpes zoster virus, the same virus that is responsible for chicken pox, can not normally be spread from one person to another. That is because only those who have had chicken pox sometimes in their lives can be affected by the herpes zoster virus. In other words, if someone has not suffered from chicken pox before, it is highly unquestionably that he will get shingles – because the virus is not within his body. Actually, the same virus, having stayed dormant for years, comes back as shingles at a later stage. And since most people have suffered from chicken pox at some stage, usually shingles is not contagious.
But there can be exceptions to this. For example, what would happen if someone with shingles interacts with someone who has not had chicken pox? In such a case, the virus can be transmitted, but then, the newly affected person will not get shingles – he will get chicken pox.
Consider another situation – someone has chicken pox, so can he spread the shingles disease? This issue is raised because it is the same virus that causes both these ailments. The answer to this is in the negative. This is due for the virus to become effective, it has to stay in the nervous system for a while. So if someone does not have the virus coming in contact with someone with chicken pox, he can not get shingles.
All this can become a bit confusing. So here is a list for easy understanding …
Has shingles – Meets someone who has not suffered from chicken pox before = Shingles is not contagious here.
Has shouting – Meets someone who has suffered from chicken pox before = Shingles is contagious here.
Has shouting – Meets someone who has not suffered from chicken pox before = Shingles is not contagious but the affected person can still get chicken pox.
Has chicken pox – Meets someone who does not have the virus within himself = Contagious but the person will get chicken pox and not shingles.
Has chicken pox – Meets someone who has chicken pox within himself = no one can get shingles in such a case.
So the shingles disease is not normally contagious through casual contacts, coughing, sneezing or waste materials like most other diseases are transmitted. However it is still advisable to avoid coming into contact with someone who has been affected with the shingles virus. Blame this on the rashes, particularly when the blisters are still there. However once the rashes have discharged up, the risk goes down considerably. The chances of a shingle pollution are very less then. There is no reason to worry at a stage when there is just the pain and very few rashes. Shingles in not contagious at such a stage.
Medications are available to strengthen the immune system to lower the risk of a contamination from shingles.