Shingles: Am I still contagious?
August 6, 2012 9:38 PM   Subscribe

How long is Shingles contagious? If you had shingles: how long did it take before the marks were totally gone?

Lucky me, I had Shingles last month. Actually, I had it from the later half of June into early July. It was a horrible experience, but really, my case was so mild that I shouldn't complain. My doctor prescribed medicine which I took 5 times a day for 7 days. The pain went away and the marks are fading away too. In fact, they're almost gone (but not quite) Yuck. I know, right? Luckily, I only had a few. Like I said, I got lucky and only had a very mild case.

Two questions:

#1: How long before I am no longer contagious? I'm probably being overly cautious.

#2: If you had shingles: how long did it take before the marks were totally gone?
posted by 2oh1 to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
the Mayo Clinic explains being contagious - Shingles: Causes -
posted by hms71 at 9:41 PM on August 6, 2012

I had shingles twice. I am not a doctor, but:

I was told it's contagious as long as there are open sores/bumps. Although I think I only had to stay inside for like a week after getting the medication the second time, the first time I was in third grade and had to stay home from school for a month. (Lucky me, my best friend brought me all my assignments so I could keep up from home.)

It took like a month, though, to recover from both rounds of shingles. I still have slight neuralgia from the second round, but it's almost unnoticeable.

So if your marks are no longer oozing and are mostly gone, and they're not in places where people might touch you, and they're covered by clothing, you're probably okay. Might want to warn any pregnant or friends, or friends with kids, or older folks.
posted by brina at 9:54 PM on August 6, 2012

Be aware that the marks may scar. The scars should fade somewhat over a year or so but may not ever entirely disappear. If you're concerned about that then I would talk to a doctor now about possible cosmetic treatments.
posted by jedicus at 9:59 PM on August 6, 2012

Two years later, my scars have not faded in the least. One is on the very tip of my nose. It's actually kind of cute. The vision in my right eye, though, is noticeably degraded, and that was despite the efforts of an eye doctor and an infectious disease specialist working together directly.
posted by Ardiril at 10:23 PM on August 6, 2012

IANYD. Chickenpox and shingles have a general rule of thumb that they are contagious until the sores scab over.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:35 PM on August 6, 2012

What other people said about the contagious period.

I had fairly visible marks for about a couple of months after the scabbing-over period. They slowly faded completely over a few months after that.
posted by Decani at 11:05 PM on August 6, 2012

Response by poster: I'm about a month past the scabbing. I still have marks, though faint. I just want to be sure I'm not contagious.
posted by 2oh1 at 12:23 AM on August 7, 2012

My blisters left no real scars, two weeks after getting shingles it would have been impossible to tell I ever had it.
posted by vasi at 12:26 AM on August 7, 2012

Obviously everybody's answers here are different, but one more data point: I had a relatively small case of shingles on my torso 20+ years ago and the scars are still there.
posted by dfan at 5:45 AM on August 7, 2012

I had a mild case of shingles 3 years ago. It stretched from my upper spine to underneath my boob. And it left zero evidence it was ever there. No scars. There were lingering marks in the area for a few months, but they weren't that bad.

Sorry you had to deal with this stupid shingles crap!
posted by Coatlicue at 6:29 AM on August 7, 2012

2oh1, you say "I just want to be sure I'm not contagious" like you're still not sure.

If you're a month past the scabbing, you really need not worry further.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:02 AM on August 7, 2012

Response by poster: "If you're a month past the scabbing, you really need not worry further."

Thanks. My doctor was on vacation when I went in, so I ended up seeing someone else. I'd swear that doctor said I'd be contagious until the marks went away. Clearly, that's not the case if some people's never went away! Oof. Mine are fading and I'm hoping that in another month or two they'll be gone.
posted by 2oh1 at 10:06 AM on August 7, 2012

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