Shingles is a form of chicken pox virus (virus) that causes the rash-like blisters associated with the infections. Understanding what makes shingles contagious is critical in managing the infection and preventing other people from becoming ill. Here are several questions about the infection, what causes it, and what you can do to manage it.
Why is shingles contagious? Shingles is caused by a strain of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), a virus that belongs to the same family as the herpes family. VZV is responsible for more than 70% of the chicken pox viruses diagnosed each year. The strain has also been known to cause other serious diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Because of this, the virus has become one of the most commonly identified causes of the infection. Although the virus remains dormant in the body, certain strains cause symptoms so easily that the infection can spread among individuals.
Symptoms generally occur weeks after exposure to the virus, although the incubation period can range from two to four weeks. Common symptoms include pain and discomfort, appearance and size of painful blisters, fever, and chills during the first week and subsequent weeks. To make matters worse, the virus can linger in the joints even after recovery, allowing the bacteria to cause infections in other parts of the body.
How can you protect yourself from these complications? Since the infection is caused by the same virus, you can prevent infection by being cautious before coming into contact. Make sure your hands are clean and dry before touching areas where chicken pox could be passed such as the nose, mouth, and eye. Avoid kissing others or sharing cups and eating utensils. If you already have the disease, there are medications you can take to reduce the symptoms but you need to avoid spreading it to others.
Shingles can be transferred through the blood, vaginal fluids, and sexual activities. Because the virus remains in the joints, avoid sharing towels, clothing, and other items used for personal hygiene. Keep the disease in mind when looking for clothes to wear for work or going out to enjoy yourself. Showers and swimming pools are also places where you need to be careful about diseases coming from the water.
The risks for developing shingles are greater during the time of the year when the virus is active. Because the symptoms manifest quickly, they can be difficult to recognize. In fact, a flare-up of shingles can last up to three days. So, if you notice an increase in the number of blisters on your body, contact your doctor immediately to find out the triggers that triggered them. Your doctor can then create a treatment plan that will help you control the virus and avoid spreading it.
When you are diagnosed with shingles, there are several things you can do to minimize the risks of spreading the virus. Avoid participating in sports that require you to move around all your body parts at once. If you must participate in sports or physical activities, wear a suitable medical support garment, like a support shirt. Avoid using aspirin or other pain medications that may be prone to being contaminated with shingles. If you have been diagnosed with shingles, follow all the instructions provided by your doctor and don’t share your diagnosis with any person.
If you think you have been exposed to shingles, it’s best to avoid contact with people who have it. Sharing personal belongings like handbags, shoes, and phones are also among the riskiest activities when it comes to shingles. If you think you have been exposed to shingles, consult your doctor and get a proper diagnosis. If you do have shingles, remember that there are several ways of treating it, so you won’t have to worry about spreading it.