Shingles, am I at risk from a friend?

Supposed to be going out with my mate tomorrow but he's just phoned me to say that his mother has shingles. Apparently it's beginning to clear up now now.. she's had it for a while but has kept it to herself. :( He also told me that he has a cold sore, which is something he rarely gets. Will it be ok to see him tomorrow, if not how long should I stay away from him? I had chicken pox as a child - approx 55 years ago. I'm currently taking enbrel, methotrexate and lefluomide.

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23 Replies

  • I have shingles right now. You can't pass on shingles to someone.However if a person hasn't had chicken pox they can catch it from a person with shingles.

  • What a thoughtful friend to let you know Wishy. Shingles is a virus so can't be transferred unless the rash is weeping. Once all the scabs are dry (completely scabbed over, 10-14 days usually) they're not contagious to anyone who has had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine.

    I think what would be the best thing to do is ask if your friend has had chickenpox or the vaccine because if he was in contact with his mum before she scabbed over (doesn't this sound pleasant!), even contact with her clothes or towels she's used & not had chickenpox he could be harbouring chickenpox & pass it on to you. The fact he has a cold sore is nothing to be concerned about, that's herpes simplex & shingles is herpes zoster. I'm reasonably sure I've got this right but if anyone thinks not do please correct me.

    Oh & no kissing lol!!

  • 'REAL MEN' don't kiss heelsy!..we grunt a lot and bump each other about! ;)

  • Of course they don't....that's us girlies lol! Best not to get too close when bumping then!! ;)

  • :)

  • You can't catch shingles. Shingles is when the chickenpox virus which remains dormant in your body becomes active again. You can only catch chickenpox. However, as long as you have had chickenpox or the vaccine you should be immune to it.

  • That's correct. A person at the contagious stage of shingles can spread the virus to someone who has never had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine, in which case the exposed person might develop chickenpox.

    If a person has had chickenpox shingles can sporadically occur at times of stress, so not due to contact with someone who is at the contagious stage of shingles.

    Symptoms of chickenpox are worse in adults than in children.

  • Coming into contact with shingles won't reawaken the chickenpox virus! It is a spontaneous thing. (As an aside people with lowered imunity are at greater risk of developing shingles - but still nothing to do with coming into contact with it!)

    This is copied from the NHS choices website.

    Is shingles contagious?

    It is not possible to catch shingles from someone else with the condition, or from someone with chickenpox.

    However, it is possible for someone who has never had chickenpox to catch it from someone with shingles.

  • Thank you.

  • Thanks both. He's had chicken pox so it's all systems go for tomorrow. Weather permitting, we're off out to do a bit of bird watching..the feathered kind! :)

  • That's ok then .....have a great time, hope it stays fine. :)

  • Thanks heelsy

  • I'd keep away

  • Can I ask if it was the person who had the shingles not the persons mother would it have been wise to stay away? Is this for general RD patients?or just certain medication but that are dangerous to come in contact with it?

  • Anyone with a compromised autoimmune system really Sunflower whatever meds they're on.

    If it was his friend who had shingles & the rash is still at the weeping stage (not scabbed over) then as he has an autoimmune disease he has an increased risk of chickenpox being passed on. Once the rash has scabbed over, up to 2 weeks after contracting it, the person with shingles is less likely to be contagious but if it was me I'd not risk it if it was his friend that had it & not his friends mum. So to recap.... if it was his friend who had shingles, whether it had scabbed over or not, I would stay away, too risky. As it's his friends mother who is past the infectious stage & he just has a cold sore & had chickenpox or the vaccine he's not got shingles so should be fine. Really the best & safest thing to do if you have an autoimmune disease or not would be to avoid anybody with shingles or chickenpox at whatever stage they're at! But people with RD, whatever meds they're on are at more risk of any contagious diseases/conditions....colds, flu, etc.

    Hope this makes sense!

  • Ok thanks x

  • Hello nomoreheels, thank you for this very informative response. It certainly has put some of my fears to rest.

    Unfortunately, when I was discharged from hospital (2010), I had Shingles. Never knew anything about it before then. How, when or through whom, I don't know - still remains a mystery. Thankfully, during a home visit, the locum identified and matter addressed!

    Please excuse my ignorance here, but can anyone say is there a possible of it re-appearing? If so, what's its effect can it have if you have Lupus+?

    Been experiencing some unexplained shooting pains in my head (from the nape of neck), along with burning/stinging of my skin, joints, back etc - esp now the weather has changed. :-(

  • Hiya denden. If you'd had chickenpox as a child & as you'd been in hospital it's possible that your body had been under stress & reawakened the virus so why you developed shingles.

    Yes, it can reappear, again if under stress.

    I have RD not Lupus so have no personal experience but as it's also an autoimmune condition I would think the same "rules" apply. I do know that if you've had shingles it can leave you with damage to the nerve endings (post herpatic neuralgia). If you're experiencing a change in sensation at the shingles site it's always best to get it checked out. My dad had shingles up one side of his neck & head thought to be bought on by stress after my mum died & he continued to have neuropathic pain in the area affected the rest of his life, but his was a particularly bad case. Fortunately it was the left side which was affected & he had lost his hearing in that ear long ago due to a bomb blast during the war anyway, but was told that had it been the other side there was every possibility he could have lost his hearing in what he called his "good" ear.

  • Hi nomoreheels, how are you today? thanks for your response. As a child I escaped chickenpox. So I was most surprised to learn that I had Shingles but will bear what you have said in mind :-)

  • Not too shabby thanks denden.

    If you had shingles you must have had chickenpox, possibly very mildly & it was never noticed but without the virus lurking you wouldn't contract shingles only chickenpox, though it tends to more distressing if you have it as an adult. It's possible you were very young, when you had it, before you formed memories. If you hadn't informed the locum it's possible he assumed you'd had it in childhood & so diagnosed shingles? Unless you're a medical miracle of course lol!! ;)

  • remember being around loads of kids that had chickenpox cant say that I myself had it.. but hehehehehehe nomoreheels, with me anything is possible! :-) Have a great weekend

  • Maybe you had a robust immune system as a littlie & spots didn't appear or you fought it off!! I remember if one of the children in the road we lived on had any of the common ones like chickenpox, measle etc our mums gathered us together to play at the house of whoever was ill so I got everything going!! It was great because we always had "party food" like ice cream & jelly lol!

    Hope you have a great weekend too. :)

  • Hello, I found all the above comments very interesting. I am on Biologic injections. The only thing I can remember being told was that I am not allowed to have the shingles injection, only the flu injection each year. Thank you for the information.

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