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Is Shingles Contagious

What are shingles?

Shingles is a viral infection that results to highly extensive and painful rashes. Shingles occur after one acquires the varicella-zoster virus, the main culprit for chickenpox. The mechanism of the condition is that right after one had chickenpox, the viral agent may stay inactive in our body such as the areas near the spinal cord and brain. As this becomes activated, shingles is the end result. This can be diagnosed through collection of the medical history of the client, and that includes inquiring for previous chickenpox infection. Culture of the tissue scraping from the crusted blisters can be done in order to test for the causative agent.

This condition is very much known and is described as very painful but does not put the person’s life at risk. The presentation of shingles includes the following:

  • Pain and numbness on the affected side of the body. The pain is usually complained as intense.
  • Bright red rashes. The rash would have a pattern that usually glides along the lower back area. The rashes are accompanied by itchiness.
  • The rashes may also be in blister form. The blisters may be fluid-filled that tends to be opened or crust over.
  • Infectious process is indicative as the patient suffers from fever and chills.
  • Headache is also complained.
  • Generalized body fatigue and achiness of the body is also reported.

Complications are likely and should be treated right away. As these are observed, prompt treatment or medical care is needed. The complications include the following:

  • Skin infection. This is possible as the blisters wear off and become crusted which can possibly house the bacteria-causing infection.
  • Neuralgia: Pain is still present even though the rashes or blisters have worn off. This is also referred as postherpetic neuralgia that is due to the damage of the nerve fibers making an altered pain perception.
  • Loss of vision. This is possible as the condition may have gone out of its limits and has affected the patients’ vision.
  • Encephalitis. As worse as it can be, the condition can spread to the central nervous system. As a result, this can cause for inflammation of the brain called encephalitis.

What causes shingles?

Shingles is caused by a herpes virus called varicella-zoster virus. Those who just had chickenpox are quite at risk of the condition. This is because of the virus’ capability to stay dormant after chickenpox, and once activated it can result to shingles – a much more painful condition. This happens to be a common skin condition to the elderly and to those who have a weakened immune system.

Those who are at risk for developing shingles are mostly adults. This is because of the fact that they have acquired chickenpox when they were young. Age is a predisposing factor for shingles, the more aged you are, the more at risk for contracting shingles. The immunocompromised patients are also prone to such disease process and are down to having shingles when not cared for properly.

Is shingles contagious?

Yes. The condition is highly contagious as this can be easily passed onto another person especially to those who are not immune to the varicella virus. In order for a person to be infected with shingles, direct contact with the open lesions or sores and rashes would do the trick. But there are cases where a person who has never contracted chickenpox may develop chickenpox instead of shingles. But to those who have had chickenpox and may have had contact with a person with shingles are likely to contract the disease.

The person is said to be contagious as the blisters have stopped to grow in number and had scabbed off the skin. Those at great risk for contracting shingles are those people who have a weakened immune system, pregnant women and the newly born children.

One can prevent this from happening if one has submitted themselves for vaccination. There are two forms of vaccine, the chickenpox vaccine and shingles vaccine. These have been found very helpful. There may still be chances of acquiring such condition but the severity is less compared to those who were not protected accordingly.

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