Shingles, otherwise known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the nerves in your skin. It is contagious at some point, and caused by the varicella zoster virus which you would have had if you had chickenpox when you were younger.
Shingles can be very painful and may last for weeks or even months before it goes away completely. This post will talk about whether shingles are contagious and how do people catch it?
Want to learn more about what shingles is? Click here.
Is shingles contagious?
Technically, people with shingles can transmit the virus to any person who has not had chickenpox in their life.
How long is shingles contagious?
According to the CDC, this usually takes 7 to 10 days. Shingles need to be covered, starting from when they were blisters up to when they crust and scab over.
How does shingles spread?
Herpes zoster virus is the main cause of shingles. It is known to spread through direct contact with an infected person’s ooze or lesions, which is why it is so contagious. Once infected, a person can develop chickenpox, not necessarily shingles. That person, though, can still develop shingles later in life.
To lower the risk of spreading shingles, it is advisable to avoid touching the sores. If you do, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards and keep yourself away from others as much as possible until they have healed. It is also best to cover rashes until after it has crusted or the scabs have fallen off.
Shingles commonly presents itself with small fluid filled blisters along one side of your back around your waistline area but may also affect other parts of your body too like your eyes or mouth – especially if you have a weakened immune system because this is when shingles is most dangerous.
Shingles is very painful and the skin around the blisters will be extremely sensitive to touch. If you were previously in contact with someone who had shingles, they may have told you that it was like getting a severe burn. Shingles is also irritating which is why people with this condition often feel run down or tired due to how agonizing it feels.
Find out more about shingles signs and symptoms.
How do I get rid of my symptoms?
If your doctor diagnoses you as having herpes zoster then antiviral medications can help stop any further progressions of infection towards other parts on your body.
Antiviral drugs can also work by stopping the virus from multiplying itself and spreading further but only do this while they are being taken.
Are there any natural remedies or homeopathic treatment options available?
Because herpes zoster is a virus, it is impossible to get rid of the infection completely using purely natural methods. But you can help yourself recover by taking some over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, which is an anti-inflammatory drug that will provide relief from your symptoms and encourage your body to heal itself quicker so you can return back to normal life as soon as possible.
You could also use cooling gel products on the affected areas too because this will reduce redness and inflammation while soothing irritated skin – these types of treatments are useful for all kinds of viral infections not just shingles though so they may be beneficial if someone in your family has recently had a cold or is suffering from the flu.
How long does it take to recover from shingles
On average, people can expect their symptoms of herpes zoster to clear up within two weeks. But everyone is different, so don’t be surprised if this time frame is slightly shorter or longer than what you are experiencing right now. You will just have to wait and see how things progress over the coming days/weeks.
Because there is no cure for herpes zoster though, your body will continue having episodes of infection regularly over a period of years before finally disappearing completely which is why antiviral medications should always be taken when necessary because they can reduce both the severity and frequency in which these outbreaks occur too.
Complications from shingles
Some people experience nerve pain even after the shingles rash has gone away. This is called postherpetic neuralgia and it is an irritating condition that is very hard to deal with. The pain can last for weeks, months or even years with some people not recovering completely from the illness at all.
Other complications include bacterial infections, loss of vision and hearing along with other serious conditions like pneumonia.
How to avoid spreading shingles
To prevent the spread of shingles, you should stay away from all people until your sores have completely healed. The following are also useful tips to lower shingles transmission:
Do not touch the blisters on your skin.
If you do, wash hands with soap and water immediately after touching them. Skin is most contagious when shingles first appear and during a breakout (when there is fluid in the blisters).
Cover affected area of skin at all times to avoid spreading it further.
This includes wearing clothing that extends from shoulders down to wrists or ankles as well as undergarments over genitals too if they are currently very sensitive due to having herpes zoster infection.
Wipe off any excess water from shower walls or tiles after use.
The herpes zoster virus is also sensitive to heat so it dies quickly when exposed to high temperatures for a period of time so keep showers short and avoid direct contact with hot surfaces. Bathroom doors should be kept shut while someone is using them.