Are shingles contagious?
Short answer, yes. Shingles is contagious when the blisters are open and oozing; after the blisters crust over, it is no longer contagious. Most of the time, though, people develop shingles as a re-activation of their own case of chicken pox. The two are caused by the same virus, Varicella Zoster. The really nasty thing about viruses is that they can stay in your body cells' own DNA, replicating along with the rest of your DNA. Then, when you are under some kind of stress, the virus portion becomes active, and makes more viruses. This is why people have cold sores repeatedly, in the same area of their body (different virus, though).
Most of the time the varicella virus does not become re-activated for many years; most sufferers of shingles are over the age of 50. However, my own daughter developed a case right before her high school senior prom. It is not just itchy, it is quite painful.
Shingles is a skin disorder which is also called herpes zoster. The disorder often erupts on the trunk of the body under the breast area and causes severe itching, and in some people severe pain. Physical or emotional stress often preceeds an outbreak of shingles.
Shingles are contagious to people that have never had chickenpox. Chickenpox is usually contracted as a child. However, all children do not get the pox. It is transmitted by direct contact with the vesicles. If someone has never had chickenpox they should take care not to touch this area on someone who is suffereing from shingles.
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It can be contagious. A person with shingles can pass this virus on to anyone that has not had chicken pox. This occurs through direct contact via the open sores present from the shingles. This person will become ill with chicken pox, not shingles.
There are certain people who can become very dangerously ill when they are infected with chicken pox, so if you have shingles it is important to stay home until you are well. People who are at risk are people with immune disorders, pregnant women, and infants.
Shingles (also called herpes zoster) is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. Once a person has had chicken pox, the virus never leaves the body--even after the pox or blisters disappear. Instead, the virus settles in the roots of the nerves near the spine. Yes, Shingles is contagious, and children who are exposed to someone who has Shingles can get chicken pox.