My friend recently borrowed some of my gym clothes. After the fact he told me he had shingles. What exactly is shingles? How contagious is it? Am I at serious risk of infection…should I burn my clothes? A

Shingles is the adult-onset disease from the same herpes virus that causes chickenpox.

If you had a strong case of chikenpox as a child, you should be in no danger.

If you had a very mild case of chickenpox or if you had the newer innoculations against chickenpox, call your doctor for real information.

Unfortunately, having had chicken pox is no protection against shingles. Just the opposite, in fact.

The chicken pox virus doesn’t behave in the way we were taught in school. Once you’ve had it, it stays in your body for life. Sometimes, a new infection breaks out in a nerve, causing painful blisters on the skin along the line of the affected nerve. That’s shingles. It’s possible to pick up the virus from someone with shingles, but you pretty much have to touch the blisters. (When someone has chicken pox, on the other hand, sometimes just being in the same ZIP code seems to be enough.) So the good news is that all you have to do is wash those gym clothes and you should be fine.

Did he borrow the clothes and then tell you he had an active shingles infection while he was wearing your gym gear? I’d call that pretty rude! :eek:

Shingles is not contagious. (cite)

Find out more at

I had a couple of them blow off my roof yesterday. Does that mean that some won’t blow off my neighbor’s roofs, since they’re not contagious?

Only in the sense that you can’t catch shingles from someone with shingles. You can get chicken pox from being exposed to a person with shingles if you’ve never had the former.

Contracting chicken pox at a late age (i.e. adulthood), however acquired, is potentially dangerous. Adults don’t fare as well as kids with chicken pox.

*Originally posted by KarlGauss ***
You can get chicken pox from being exposed to a person with shingles if you’ve never had the former. **

Gauss is correct. Some time ago my young daughters caght chicken pox from my wife’s shingles while we were on a long automobile vacation. She had not taken any precautions, because her doctor had mistakenly told her that shingles wasn’t contageous.

Miguelon, you can search for it at They have alot of info, just drop it in the search box there.

I was 15 when I got it. Heres the scoop. It is NOT contageus at all**.** It is the Chicken Poc virus coming back to haunt you AFTER and ONLY AFTER you have already CPx. It is brought on by stress. It may not need to be a tremendous amount of stress, it depends on the person. I, for example react quite easily to small amounts of stress. To this day I break out (my face) during the most minor of situations. Shingles was the worst pain and expearience I have ever endured and I would not wish it on anybody. Having it at 15 has made me a much stronger person today and am able to deal with my emotions with incredable strength. You see, when having shingles, the pain spells are brought on by you emotions. Any negativity, anger, etc… would bring on the most pain I have ever expeaienced to this day still…

Shingles most definitely is contagious, by contact. However, the host must be susceptible to infection. Usually this would be a host that lacked immunity because: 1) he is immunologically “unaquainted” by previous varicella/herpes zoster infection; or, 2) is immunocompromised.

The herpetic “blisters” are infectious. By the time they scab and scar over, the risk of transmission is minimal.

Another vote for “Shingles IS Contageous!”

In the sense that you can get chicken pox from someone who has Shingles because the same virus causes both.

Before I got vaccinated for CP (never got it as a child) my Mother had an outbreak of Shingles and we were told to avoid all contact until she scabbed up.

Since you have the words “Neuro” and “Doc” in your username, Ill trust you. But I must say mt Doctor put alot of people at risk 7 years ago. Is there a stature of Lim’s on Malpractice:)?

I found that ice is the most successful method of treatment for an attack of shingles. It seems to break the irritation-inflammation cycle, and works well on the pain.

They can also be somewhat disfiguring.

Fine. Don’t check out my cite. See if I care.

So, if bug x causes diseases a, b and c, and I have bug x which causes me to have disease a and I sneeze all over Neurodoc & Sue Duhnym, and they subsequently come down with a bad case of diseases b and c, have they caught my disease or not?

Shingles is not contagious, but chicken pox is.

Shingles occur in about 20% of those who have had chicken pox. An
estimated 300,000 cases of shingles occur each year. The incidence of
herpes zoster is almost 65% higher than it was 40 years. Although a
person who has never been infected with varicella-zoster virus can catch
chicken pox from exposure to shingles blisters, the opposite track is not
possible; people cannot get herpes zoster from someone else with
chicken pox. Shingles can only be a reactivation of an earlier varicella
episode in the same person.

What Are the Symptoms of Chickenpox and Shingles?

                    Symptoms of Chickenpox (Varicella)

                    When patients with chicken pox cough or sneeze, they expel tiny
                    droplets that carry the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). If a person who has
                    never had chicken pox inhales these particles, the virus enters the lungs
                    and is carried through the blood to the skin where it causes the typical
                    rash of chicken pox.

Symptoms of Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

                    Shingles nearly always occurs in adults and develops on one side of the
                    body. Usually two identifiable symptom stages occur. The first is known
                    as the prodrome, which are a cluster of warning symptoms that appear
                    before the outbreak of the infection. The second stage comprises the
                    symptoms of the active infection itself. In many patients, a third
                    syndrome known as postherpetic neuralgia develops

Attrayant may insist that shingles is not “contagious” because it is not transmitted by sneezing…

Such an opinion may be justified by a strict definition of the terms “contagious” versus “infectious.” “Contagious” means “easily transmitable.” Airborne contagions satisfy that definition. For example, TB is highly “contagious.” You can be on a plane with an active TB case who is coughing, and you may get the disease.

Shingles is definitely infectious and transmitable by contact (as is the common cold, which is additionally airborne). The contagiousness of shingles is certainly less than airborne diseases, but it is still contagious. Anyone who claims otherwise doesn’t know what he or she is talking about.