Herpes Zoster: Is it Contagious?
Yes, Herpes Zoster is contagious. The full Latin name for this virus
is Varicella Herpes Zoster and it is in fact very
contagious as it spreads via the humidity in the air.
Herpes Zoster causes chickenpox in children and shingles
in seniors. It is mostly contagious in the incubation period
of chickenpox which can last from 7 to 23 days. In this period there
are no symptoms so it is very difficult to avoid passing the virus to others. Shingles
is not particularly contagious.
Once you've caught the Herpes Zoster virus it stays in
your body. You can not cure it but you should only experience one
outbreak of chickenpox as a child and 1 in 5 experience shingles
in later life. The virus is latent after a
chickenpox outbreak which causes no harm.
The symptoms of chickenpox are a rash that turns into blisters which
then turn into a dry scab. This can be irritating, itchy and painful.
You will feel generally ill, with headaches, weakness and fever.
Chickenpox is not usually treated as it rarely has complications
and passes on its own. You may ease the symptoms with anti-itch or
local anesthetic creams. Cold bathes may soothe the skin as well
and fever reducing medicines and pain killers may also be a good
idea. When the illness is full-blown it is not contagious.
Shingles Symptoms and Treatment
Shingles has similar symptoms to those of chickenpox. You may
think of it as the adult version of chickenpox. As opposed to chickenpox
however, shingles is generally treated
as the people who experience an outbreak are usually older people with
a low immune defense system who need medical help in fighting the
virus. You use antiviral agents such as:
They are available as tablets on prescription.
It is nearly impossible to avoid Herpes Zoster as it is so easily
caught. But as the virus usually only results in one outbreak
of chickenpox and possibly an outbreak of shingles in later life,
there is no reason to take precautions. You can get a vaccine for
chickenpox which some countries recommend for all
- The Herpes treatment page
- Is chickenpox contagious?
- Is shingles contagious?
- The chickenpox vaccine explained
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