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Shingles and Prednisolone

I have just come back from a tea party where the person I was sitting next to said that she had had shingles 'but was all right now'. It sounded as if it was very slight and hadn't lasted long, although she did say that she had had a rash, but no pustules. Should I really contact the doctor? I am inclined to think not. We sat next to each other for less than an hour and she was talking to other people besides me. She looked well and didn't sneeze.

I had chicken pox as a child. I am now on 7.5 mg Prednisolone daily, and have just started reducing to 7 mg.

7 Replies

You cannot "catch" shingles but if you didn't have chicken pox as a child you CAN catch chicken pox from being in contact with someone with shingles. I know - sounds daft, but after chicken pox the virus remains dormant in the nerve endings. Something triggers it to wake up and you develop shingles. So you can't have shingles UNLESS you had chicken pox.

If the lady didn't have pustules she wasn't infectious anyway. The pustules contain the virus until they have scabbed over and that is where the contagion risk comes in.


Thank you PMRpro. I asked because the 'literature' says that you should get intouch with your GP if you have been in touch with anyone with shingles (for a course of Acyclovir or similar) or chickenpox. Or have I misunderstood?


No, not really. Yes, it does say that and it is because if you haven't already had chicken pox you are at considerable risk of catching it as at the start of CP it is very infectious. Chicken pox in adults can be a serious illness anyway, often requiring hospitalisation. Then there are a LOT of young people on pred who have never had chicken pox as it is relatively uncommon these days. Some people on pred, especially at higher doses, do have a compromised immune system and would very likely end up becoming very poorly and needing hospital treatment.

If you KNOW you have had chicken pox it is unlikely (but not impossible) that you will catch it again. If you haven't had chicken pox and are in contact with either CP or shingles you can develop chicken pox - and may become quite ill. If you are treated with antiviral medication immediately the symptoms appear it can make the course of the illness less severe and shorter - good all round.

I may be wrong - but I think the antiviral isn't any use until the symptoms appear and that will be 2 to 3 weeks after exposure. But actually, more often than not you don't know you have sat next to someone developing CP since the first 24 hours are the most infectious period when they just appear to have a cold and have a runny nose and are sneezing. So the real answer is to always take any first signs of CP or shingles seriously and check with the doctor.


Many thanks.





Many thanks for asking. I am fine. No problems.


I have PMR and was unfortunate enough to contract shingles over the Xmas period in the Czech Republic past year. By the time I realised what it was it was way too late for any effective anti-viral treatment and even now I still get slight pain and areas of my chest are numb to the touch.

My advice: any rash to the chest, straight to the doctor.


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