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Is Shingles Contagious?


Shingles is not contagious and cannot be passed from person to person, and is the result reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox (Varicella Zoster Virus – VZV). Reactivation of this virus is what causes shingles in people who have previously had the chickenpox. However, VZV can be spread from a person with active shingles to another person who has never had chickenpox. This happens when the shingles rash is in the blister-phase and the fluid from the blisters comes into direct contact with a person.

Persons exposed to VZV virus from someone with an active shingles infection might develop chickenpox, but they would not develop shingles. Shingles is not as contagious as chickenpox and the risk of spreading infection is decreased when the rash is covered.1 When the blisters from shingles develop crusts the risk of infecting others has passed.2

According to the CDC, if you have shingles you can prevent its spread by: 3  

  • Keeping the rash covered;
  • Refraining from scratching or touching the rash;
  • Frequent hand washing;
  • Avoiding contact with people until rash has crusted over.

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Shingles and the Shingles vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents , which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.

« Return to Vaccines & Diseases Table of Contents

References

1 CDC. Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Shingles Home – About Shingles – Transmission. Revised Jan. 19, 2018

2 CDC. Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Shingles Home – About Shingles – Transmission. Revised Jan. 19, 2018

3 CDC. Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Shingles Home – About Shingles – Transmission. Revised Jan. 19, 2018


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