You can only get shingles if you’ve had chickenpox. Anyone who has had chickenpox can have shingles, no matter how old they are. In this case, someone with shingles can pass the varicella-zoster virus to you, because you don’t already have it in your body. A person can not get shingles from a person that has it. However, the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles can be spread from a person with active shingles to a person who has never had chickenpox or been vaccinated through direct contact with the rash. Many cases of shingles have mild symptoms, but more severe cases can be very painful. (those who have never had chickenpox or didn’t get the chickenpox vaccine). After someone has had chickenpox, the virus stays dormant (sleeping) in that person’s nervous system for the rest of his or her life, even though the chickenpox goes away. Note: Clicking these links will take you to a site outside of KidsHealth’s control.
People can also catch chickenpox from direct contact with a shingles rash if they have not been immunized by vaccination or by a previous bout of chickenpox. Shingles itself can develop only from a reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus in a person who has previously had chickenpox. In fact, one out of every three people 60 years or older will get shingles. Pain sometimes persists after the rash has gone, more commonly in people over the age of 50. You can catch chickenpox from someone with shingles if you have not had chickenpox before.
If you have never had chickenpox, you can get infected by just being in the same room with someone who has the disease. Although shingles is not very contagious, direct contact with the rash of someone who has shingles can cause chickenpox in a person who has never had chickenpox. If you or your child has been exposed to chickenpox, contact your health care provider. Most people get chickenpox from exposure to other people with chickenpox. Anyone who has had chickenpox can develop shingles. However, people who have never had chickenpox can catch the virus from another person with shingles. There are things you can do to reduce the chance of getting an infection while you are in hospital.
Shingles And Chickenpox (varicella-zoster Virus)
Persons who are previously vaccinated can still get chickenpox. If chickenpox occurs in a vaccinated person it is usually mild and less contagious than in an unvaccinated person. Anyone who has not had chickenpox or been vaccinated in the past can get chickenpox. You cannot catch shingles from someone who has shingles. You can, however, catch chickenpox from someone who has shingles. If you are not immune to the varicella zoster virus and you are exposed to someone who has shingles there is a very small chance that you could develop chickenpox.