How Long Does Shingles Remain Contagious?

How long do shingles remain contagious? Shingles, brought on by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) remain contagious until the blistery outbreak has crusted over and wholly dried.

The same virus that produces the contagious chickenpox virus is responsible for the herpes zoster virus. Like Chickenpox, if you have never suffered from the illness and are exposed to a person with this virus, you can contract Chickenpox.

Once you have encountered the itchy rash of a virus called Chickenpox, you would think it is forever over, but the virus lays dormant in a person who has suffered from Chickenpox and might flare up years later as herpes zoster.

Those developing the secondary virus linked to a previous bout of Chickenpox only get it once, if at all. Chickenpox is an extremely uncomfortable virus; so, if you haven’t been inoculated or encountered the disease already, stay away from persons with the highly contagious VZV virus.

This illness is more common among the elderly and people with compromised immune systems. Also, some older folks may have grandchildren. If these young people have not been inoculated with a double dose of the chickenpox vaccine, they can catch the VZV virus.

The virus is incredibly contagious when a non-infected person comes in contact with fluid from shingle blisters. You do not want to give this virus unknowingly to love ones, friends, or acquaintances.

Risk Factors:

  • History of Chickenpox
  • Stress-emotional/physical
  • Compromised immune system
  • Transplant patient
  • Poor diet
  • Steroid treatment
  • Serious physical injury

This virus is airborne, and you can get it by inhaling particles from an infected person. Shingles are only infectious when the skin is inflamed. One way to prevent spreading the disease is to cover lesions with a cloth.

Do not come into contact with towels used by an infected person, bedding, or clothing. However, pain, after the blisters have dried, does not mean the person is infectious. Still, nerve damage may linger.

The virus takes 10 to 14 days for the ultimate development of lesions but 2 to 4 weeks for the illness to dissipate. Nevertheless, until the lesions are wholly dried over, the person can still transmit the disease. In the meantime, avoid touching the person or coming in close contact. While blisters are forming, and during the outbreak, you can become infected.

Natural Ways to Help

There are two products known for their drying power, cornstarch and baking soda. These will help speed the drying process for herpes zoster blisters. Salves may seem the way to go. However, if you are not using shingle cream, it is best to avoid smothering the lesions with heavy oils and creams that will not allow the blisters to dry. Soaking the lesions with clean water will loosen crusty skin. If the problem is ignored, harsh complications might occur, or the disease can become fatal. Patients might develop bacterial infections, develop encephalitis, pneumonia, or stroke.

Best treatment

Direct application of some shingles cream to a blister can block out air, causing blisters to fester longer. However, the best way to rebuild healthy tissue is with an effective shingles cream. The varicella-zoster virus is painful and can damage nerves in the skin tissue.

Once the rash appears, it is best to begin shingles cream treatment to the area, preferably within 72 hours of rash indication. After the illness ends, very much like Chickenpox, there might be scarring; the varicella-zoster shares the elements of cold sores, herpes, and genital herpes.

Ways to Reduce the Contagious Nature of VZV

  1. Keep hands clean
  2. Avoid high-risk persons
  3. Keep the infected area clean.
  4. Do not touch the infection.

The key to avoiding infecting those you love with this VZV is to take care with physical contact. Prevent exposure to fluid from lesions and any items exposed to drainage from the blisters. When infected, there is no real way of knowing what might be touched related to the virus, so keeping things clean is a crucial factor in protecting others from the virus.

The level of spreading of the illness depends upon the strength of the immune system. If untreated, it is possible for the body to harm itself while fighting the disease. Although only 15% of sufferers encounter continued pain from this illness, reasons are not clear why pain varies.

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