Preventing Transmission of Shingles

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).

5 Responses to “Preventing Transmission of Shingles”

  1. To clarify, it is important that people know that Shingles cannot be “caught” or transmitted from someone who has it. Since it is caused by the same virus as the one that causes chicken pox, one who has not had a case of chicken pox, or is not vaccinated against that disease can potentially catch it from contact with open lesions from an individual with shingles.
    From the CDC: “Shingles cannot be passed from one person to another. However, the virus that causes shingles, the varicella zoster virus, can be spread from a person with active shingles to a person who has never had chickenpox. In such cases, the person exposed to the virus might develop chickenpox, but they would not develop shingles. The virus is spread through direct contact with fluid from the rash blisters, not through sneezing, coughing or casual contact.”

  2. Absolutely right, Barbara. Thanks for adding that!

  3. I have just received my 3rd dose of shingles. Within 3 days I had obtained a course of “EZOVIR” and for pain control “ENDEP 10”. Very successful as I have very limited pain and only a small rash, although I could feel where the rash would have spread to. This is entirely different to thee last dose which was in 1987, I still get some pain in one spot from that dose. Get treatment early and you will benefit greatly.

  4. MYFRIEND HAD A SHINGLES SHOT AND HAS STILL GOTTEN A CASE OF SHINGLES… SHE SHOWED ME A SLIGHT RASH, IN FOUR DIFFERENT PLACES… NO BLISTERS JUST A PINK RASH SHE HAD JUST GOTTEN THE DAY BEFORE.. I DID TOUCH IT (STUPID ME) … I HAD CHICKENPOX WHEN A CHILD, BUT A VERY VERY MILD CASE, AND I HAD MY BLOOD CHECKED FOR THE VIRUS AND IT DID NOT SHOW UP IN MY BLOOD.. SO I DID NOT GET THE SHOT…. AM I AT RISK TO GET SHINGLES, AND WHAT IS THE TIME ALLOWED TO KNOW IF I CONTRACTED THE SHINGLES.. THANK YOU FOR ANSWERING, AS I HAVE SEARCHED AND THE INCUBATION PERIOD, IS NOT MENTIONED ANYWHERE….. MARIANNE

  5. I have been getting little doses of the shingles pain and cold sores since I had the shingles at 50 I’m now 71 and still getting it I just go to Dr and get meds I’m sure I’ll have it forever

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