Shingles in children

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla – It's a painful condition that mainly affects older adult.  But anyone who has had chickenpox could later develop shingles.

"I've seen healthy children who have had reactivation and gotten shingles it's a lot milder in health children it's more severe in immune-compromised either adults or children but unfortunately it can happen at any time," says Dr. Bhide.

Dr. Vandana Bhide with Mayo Clinic says after someone has had chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in that person's nervous system for the rest of his or her life. Children who've had chickenpox or have been vaccinated for Varicella face a greater risk of developing shingles if they have a weakened immune system.

"Whenever you get the vaccine or you get regular chicken pox that virus,  always hids in your spinal cord and it can reactivate at any time," says Bhide.  

The first signs of shingles are tingling, itching, and pain.

"It's a rash or ulcer it often it's very painful so you can tell," says Bhide.

The rash shows up as a groups of pimples on one side of the body or face. The pimples change to pus-filled blisters that pop and scab over in about seven to ten days. Then they start to heal. It takes about  two to four weeks.

"You can't really catch shingles, but if someone has a shingles infection that's active especially if the lesions are weeping it's airborne and by rubbing on the liquid it is infectious and it can cause chicken pox in someone who has not been vaccinated," says Bhide.

Dr. Bhide also says the chicken pox vaccine doesn't cause shingles but it also doesn't protect you against getting the virus.  But it could one day help you if you do develop shingles.

"Getting the vaccine will make the reactivation milder so that is a better way to go," says Bhide.

If you have never had chickenpox avoid contact with people who have shingles.  Fluid from shingles blisters is contagious and can cause chickenpox, but not shingles, in this group of people.

About the Author:

Anchor on The Morning Show team and reporter specializing on health issues.