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Many people automatically assume that shingles is constantly contagious. However, this is far from truth. It has a contagious stage during which people coming in contact with the infected person are prone to getting the zoster virus.
Shingles is contagious only if a person or a child has never had chicken pox before. However, when the person is exposed to the shingles virus, instead of getting shingles, the person will end up getting chicken pox and not shingles. So, what is the contagious stage of shingles? Shingles is contagious when new blisters are developing and the older ones are healing. However, once all the blisters on the body get crusted, shingles is no longer contagious.
It should also be noted that if a person has had chicken pox during his/her life time, the person is not at a risk of getting the virus from a person suffering from shingles. They can be in the presence of the person regardless of the contagious stage.
So, how would a person know whether he/she has shingles? Well, you would first have to have had chicken pox, as the virus that causes chicken pox is the one that is responsible for causing shingles. Basically, once a person gets chicken pox, the virus never leaves the body and lies dormant. When the virus gets activated, it causes shingles. Some of the symptoms of shingles include fever and headache for four to five continuous days, feeling physically tired, suddenly having diarrhea, suffering from chills, itching in a particular part of the body, and thereafter getting blisters at the area that was itching. These blisters are quite painful and appear like a band running from the spine all the way to the chest.
People who develop the shingles blisters should immediately consult a doctor for treatment; otherwise the disease will reach an advanced stage. Some people can also end up suffering from a condition known as chronic neuralgia, which can persist for months together. Some people also suffer from a condition known as post-herpetic neuralgia. In this condition, even though the blisters disappear, the pain persists. This pain can be excruciating. Hence, early treatment for shingles is advisable.
If shingles is neglected, besides infecting an uninfected person, there is also the risk of getting complications. A person can end up losing his/her eyesight, develop pneumonia, some of the organs in the body may malfunction, encephalitis may develop and at times it could also result in death. However, it must be pointed out that complications from shingles are rather rare.
People who have had chickenpox are susceptible of getting shingles at a later stage in their lives. The same virus that causes chickenpox is responsible for shingles. This virus is the herpes zoster virus. Once chickenpox clears, the virus migrates to the nerves and lies dormant. It can resurface due to emotional stress, chemotherapy, cancer or any other immune problem. Instead of getting chickenpox, the person ends up getting shingles. At the moment, the doctors are not completely certain as to what causes the virus to become active after lying dormant for years. In some people, the virus does not reactivate at all and therefore, they do not get shingles.
Hence, instead of worrying about shingles and its contagious stage, you should immediately seek medical care the moment you feel that you are going to get a flare up. It is imperative that you get the right treatment. It will make your life a lot easier and also prevent you from infecting another person, who has not been exposed to the zoster virus. That way you will not be able to infect or be contagious.
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Hub Pages: Shingles Contagious