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In what ways are my shingles contagious?

Posted by Christie J.

I was diagnosed with Shingles yesterday.  The lesions are on the right side of my face (hairline and browline) and my eye burns and itches.  They are now raised, reddened, 1-1&1/2 inch patches, blister-like and closed.  My doctor tells me that I am currently contagious to people that have never had shingles because my lesions are constantly shedding the virus even at this stage. 

I have read conflicting reports.  One such report is on the CDC website that says they are not contagiuos unless another susceptible person is in very close contact or in contact with the lesions if they are weeping. 

I have an 88 yr. old mother who swears she never had Chicken Pox. She has no specific immune impairment other than advanced age (which I know is a significant factor).  My doctor also says that she cannot imagine that my mother never had C. Pox.  I want my mother to be able to spend Christmas with us but definitely not if it is a risk to her. 

I am a nurse and work with all ages including children.  The Risk Manager at our hospital tells me that unless the lesions are widespread and/or weeping they don't isolate patients except with contact precautions.  Otherwise, if the lesions are widespread and/or weeping, they isolate with contact and airborne precautions. 

I am frustrated and confused!!  Help, please!  Thankyou, CJ, RN

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