According to the CDC, nearly 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles. Also known as zoster or herpes zoster, shingles is a painful skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus. The risk of getting the disease increases with age, so care providers in assisted living and residential care are more likely to encounter in the older residents we care for.
Preventing transmission an important consideration when planning the care of residents with shingles. Here are recommendations from the CDC:
A person with shingles can spread the virus when the rash is in the blister-phase. A person is not infectious before blisters appear. Once the rash has developed crusts, the person is no longer contagious.
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 as resident has shingles:
- Keep the rash covered.
- Do not touch or scratch the rash.
- Encourage the resident to wash his/her hands often to prevent the spread of varicella zoster virus.
- Until the rash has developed crusts, the resident must avoid contact with
- pregnant women who have never had chickenpox or the varicella vaccine;
- premature or low birth weight infants; and
- immunocompromised persons (such as persons receiving immunosuppressive medications or undergoing chemotherapy, organ transplant recipients, and people with HIV infection).