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Are shingles contagious?

Created date

June 21st, 2011

Q: I care for my young grandson a few days a week. But now I have shingles, and I m afraid it may be contagious. Should I stay away from him until my rash clears up?

A.Your grandson can t catch shingles from you, but he may catch chickenpox if he hasn t had it or hasn t received the chickenpox vaccine. That s because both shingles and chickenpox are caused by the same virus. Shingles only occurs in people who have already had chickenpox, and one person cannot catch shingles from another person who has it. The virus sheds from the rash and unlike chickenpox, it is not spread through the air. So the best thing to do if you are going to be around others who have not had chickenpox is to keep your rash completely covered with a bandage, and wash your hands frequently.

Shaveta Kotwal, M.D.


Ashburn, Virginia

Dr. Kotwal received her medical degree from Jammu Medical College in India. She completed a residency in internal medicine at Prince Georges Hospital in Cheverly, Md. Board certified in both internal medicine and geriatrics, Kotwal joined Ashby Ponds in September 2008.