Careful Precaution is Vital for Shingles Prevention

Rash’s first appearance signals when person is most contagious

DAYTON, Ohio (September 6, 2019) – About one out of every three people in the United States will develop the disorder known as shingles within their lifetime with up to one million Americans being diagnosed with it each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Shingles is a painful rash that typically develops on one side of the body or the face, in a specific area of distribution. The rash consists of blisters that usually scab over in about seven to 10 days, and then fully clear up within the next two to four weeks. In certain cases, rashes on the face can even affect the eye and cause vision loss. In even rarer situations, people with weakened immune systems may develop a rash that is widespread on the body and looks similar to chickenpox.

Few, however, may be fully aware of shingles’ root causes or what they and their loved ones can do to help prevent shingles or its spread if they are diagnosed. 

“Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, which also causes chicken pox,” said Mansi Amin, DO, an internal medicine physician with Oakwood Primary Care. “It actually begins earlier in life when a person gets chicken pox, which is the primary infection. Then the virus remains dormant for years in the spinal ganglia until it becomes active again and causes shingles.”

The risk of shingles outbreaks typically grows after a person reaches the age of 50, though people of all ages are susceptible if they’ve previously had chicken pox.  Outbreaks often occur after a person experiences a decrease in immunity which can sometimes be brought about by stress.

“People who are immunocompromised can develop a shingles outbreak,” said Dr. Amin, who practices with Premier Physician Network. “This includes those undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, people with HIV, people using steroids to treat something such as asthma or COPD, or those who may be taking immunosuppressants for a variety of reasons.”

Individuals should seek medical treatment as quickly as possible when symptoms of a rash begin to emerge since doctors can prescribe antiviral medications that can lessen the outbreak’s severity. Medications are especially effective if taken within the first 72 hours.      

It remains just as important in these early stages to avoid contact with others since shingles is contagious and can easily spread from person to person, especially if the uninfected person has not had previous exposure to the virus.  The CDC indicates that a person with shingles becomes contagious during the early stages of their outbreak when their rash has developed blisters that may be seeping fluid. 

It’s recommended that those with shingles wash their hands frequently and avoid contact with pregnant women, those who have not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, premature infants, or people with weakened immune symptoms. A person is no longer contagious once the blisters have scabbed over and have begun to heal.

Future outbreaks are rare once an infection has passed, but they remain a possibility as people age.  Ultimately it is vaccination that provides the best defense against shingles regardless of an individual’s history with the virus, and it is strongly recommended for men and women who are over the age of 50.

“Right now there are two vaccines available to help prevent shingles,” Dr. Amin said.  “Zostavax is a live vaccine that is recommended for healthy adults who are 60 and over, and Shingrix is a non-live vaccine which consists of two injections, given two months apart, that is recommended for healthy adults age 50 and over.” 

For more information about shingles or to find a Premier Physician Network physician near you, visit

Contact Us

Discover more about Premier Health and join us in building healthier communities in Southwest Ohio. Learn more about working at Premier Health, becoming a volunteer, and making a gift to support our mission.