Should someone with an active case of shingles go to work?


Q: Should someone that has an active case of shingles on their leg that is covered by bandages go to work? Can they infect others with chickenpox?


A:   Shingles occurs as a result of reactivation of the varicella zoster (chicken pox) virus during situations where the body's immunity is compromised (eg stress, disease, age or taking drugs that suppress immunity). It usually affects  one side of the body and can be very painful. Other symptoms may be fever, weakness, headache and in some cases if the face is involved, loss of hearing and paralysis of the affected side (Ramsay Hunt Syndrome).
Acyclovir is given to reduce the length of the disease and provide relief. Sometimes steroids are also added to improve the symptoms. Shingles can infect certain group of individuals and if your work involves dealing with children, pregnant women, the elderly or immuno-compromised people, you should avoid going to work until the lesions resolve.

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