Can Adult Shingles Be Contagious?

Q:
Can adult shingles be contagious?

A:
YES!

Shingles is contagious and can be spread from an affected person to babies, children, or adults who have not had chickenpox.

But instead of developing shingles, these people develop chickenpox. Once they have had chickenpox, people cannot catch shingles (or contract the virus) from someone else. Once infected, however, people have the potential to develop shingles later in life.

The virus is spread through direct contact with fluid from the rash blisters caused by shingles.

  • A person with active shingles can spread the virus when the rash is in the blister-phase.
  • A person is not infectious before the blisters appear.
  • Once the rash has developed crusts, the person is no longer infectious.
  • Shingles is less contagious than chickenpox and the risk of a person with shingles spreading the virus is low if the rash is covered.

If you have shingles, you should: cover the rash and avoid touching or scratching the rash.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.