Shingles cannot be passed from person to person, but the virus that causes shingles, the varicella zoster virus, can be spread from a person with active shingles to a person who has never had chickenpox.

In such cases, the person exposed to the virus might develop chickenpox, but they would not develop shingles.

The virus is spread through direct contact with fluid from the rash blisters, not through sneezing, coughing or casual contact.

A person with shingles can spread the virus when the rash is in the blister-phase. A person is not infectious before blisters appear. Once the rash has developed crusts, the person is no longer contagious.

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

Ÿ Keep the rash covered.

Ÿ Do not touch or scratch the rash.

Ÿ Wash your hands often to prevent the spread of varicella zoster virus.

Ÿ Until your rash has developed crusts, avoid contact with pregnant women who have never had chickenpox or the varicella vaccine; premature or low birth weight infants; and people with compromised immune systems because they are receiving immunosuppressive medications, are undergoing chemotherapy, are organ transplant recipients or people with HIV.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention