Log in
Asthma UK community forum
11,603 members17,755 posts

Steroids and chicken pox/shingles

I have always wondered what is with the specific warning on the steroid information leaflet but this is now relevent.

Why is there a specfic warning to avoid contact with chicken pox and if you do come into contact with someone with chicken pox to seek medical advice?

Teaching the age of children I do this has come into question a couple of times already this year and when I phoned OH and the duty doc they were rediculously unhelpful and just said 'it's probably just because you have a weakened immune system' which I accepted but now my Gran has shingles too and I just want to know why and what the possible implications are.

Thanks! xxx

10 Replies

Steroids reduce the bodies immune system. Unfortunately chicken pox and shingles infection can spread to parts of the brain .... To prevent the risk of this occurring ur gp can give treatments to prevent this risk......


I believe that because you're on steriods, your immune system is weakened and it's possible that you could contract a severe form of chicken pox/shingles which could lead to needing antiviral treatment. I looked it up when I was looking after a patient with chicken pox, but I think because I had chicken pox as a child that I'm immune to it now (could well be wrong though!)


I have been told if you have had chicken pox you should be okay...I have had it more than once though...first time when I was 23.

Have ch. in my class have it and been okay but have also been given anti-virals for it in the past. Think if you don't have symptoms you should be fine.


I think the advice is there so that you can get antivirals quickly if you need them. If it were me I would familiarise myself with the early symptoms and then if I had any, contact my surgery for some antivirals at the earliest opportunity.



Also wondered about this. Was given blue steroid card once with 10 day course pred. & on high dose inhaler. Was told chickenpox warning is only if you have not had it. Shingles can still flair up if immune to chickenpox though, not sure if worse though? Also, what counts as repeated short courses for side-effects from steroids?


recently my 7 yr old daughter who suffers very bad with asthma caught chicken pox and at the same time needed a course of pred and antibiotics, unfortunately we were told ny our doctor the pred could not be described due to the risk of chicken pox turning into something as bad as menengitis, it enflames the virus making it worse, i googled it as i had not heard of it and it is true

hope this helps



I had my first prolonged asthma attack in 1991 - so long ago, but I was on prednisolne and my daughter who was 5 at the time had chicken pox. I had never had it as a child, and by heck I was plastered everywhere on my body all over, under and in between. I tried camomile lotion and reacted badly to that and all my pox zits got infected where I had used the camomile. The only relief I had was using a snorkel in the bath and keeping submerged - you may laugh but I would have done anything not to itch!! The Gp did not help much just said bad luck and told me to take paracetamol.

The steroids primes the body to such a pitch that you catch everything going, and you will get whatever is going to the extreme. Chicken pox is an itchy uncomfortable condition anyway - the only place I could scratch was under my hair, hope I never go bald because my scalp is all pockmarked, I have scars on my face, arms and legs where the pox was rubbed off.

If you are unlucky I hope you have a more clued up Gp.

Best regards.


I too wondered this as I am on a daily maintenance dose of 20mg prednisolone and my poor 16 year old daughter has had shingles 4 times in the last few years so I asked my GP about the warning as i was very concerned. My GP informed me it was only a problem if i had never had chickenpox like others before have posted. Hope this alleviates your concerns.


i had chickenpox as a child and have just got over shingles. Saw on call GP who gave me week anti virals as went as soon as saw spots. Was able to still work tho as shingles is only contagous through touch where as the chickenpox part is airbourne. have to say needed 4n hrly painkillers tho and have never sympathised enough when children have said they itch from chickenpox! lol if in any doubt tho see gp as i'm sure that anti virals made huge diff to how quick i recovered.


I have been on steriods for almost 8 years now (wow 8 years!) but recently I was in contact with someone who had shingles. I had to call my dr who contacted the virology at the hospital to check my blood levels or something and she came back to me saying I had no immunity and there needed immunoglobulin injection to protect myself from actually developing shingles.

I am not sure what the position is now that I have had the injection (well six injections as the dose is so big) wether if I were in contact with shingles or chicken pox again if I would need more treatment.



You may also like...