Shingles cannot be passed from one person to another. However, the virus that causes shingles, the varicella zoster virus, can spread from a person with active shingles to cause chickenpox in someone who had never had chickenpox or received chickenpox vaccine.
The virus is spread through direct contact with fluid from the rash blisters caused by shingles.
A person with active shingles can spread the virus when the rash is in the blister-phase. A person is not infectious before the blisters appear. Once the rash has developed crusts, the person is no longer infectious.
Shingles is less contagious than chickenpox and the risk of a person with shingles spreading the virus is low if the rash is covered.
If you have shingles, you should:
- Cover the rash.
- Avoid touching or scratching the rash.
- Wash your hands often to prevent the spread of varicella zoster virus.
- Avoid contact with the people below until your rash has developed crusts
- pregnant women who have never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine;
- premature or low birth weight infants; and
- people with weakened immune systems, such as people receiving immunosuppressive medications or undergoing chemotherapy, organ transplant recipients, and people with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.
Also see Shingles Prevention & Treatment