Recent Blog Articles
Improving access to hearing aids
Can mindfulness change your brain?
Five lifestyle factors that can help prevent gastroesophageal reflux disease
Transient ischemic attacks: Varied symptoms, all important
5 inflammation-fighting food swaps
Is IBD an underrecognized health problem in minority groups?
Sickle cell disease in newborns and children: What families should know and do
COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens: What we do — and don’t — know
Happy trails: Take a hike, now
Sleep well — and reduce your risk of dementia and death
Diseases & Conditions
Is shingles contagious?
Ask the doctors
Q. I understand that shingles is caused by a virus. Does that mean that shingles is contagious?
A. Yes and no. If you had chickenpox when you were a child, you are at risk for shingles. Shingles occurs when the varicella-zoster virus that caused your chickenpox re-emerges after lying dormant in your nerve cells from the time of your original illness. When this occurs, you are contagious, but you can't give someone shingles. You can, however, infect people with chickenpox if they haven't been exposed to the virus in the past and haven't been vaccinated against it. For this reason, it's important to take precautions, particularly if you are close to someone who has a weakened immune system.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.