This article provides some information on whether pregnant women are prone to contracting shingles, it being a recurring infection of the varicella zoster virus.
Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful experiences for a woman. However, this period also turns out to be a worrisome time for her. This is because during pregnancy the mother’s immune system becomes more vulnerable to various pathogens. One such pathogen is the varicella zoster virus. This virus causes chickenpox, that is mostly considered to be a childhood disease. Once one gets chickenpox, they can never develop the same infection again. However, the virus does not disappear from the system and stays dormant in the nervous system. When the body’s immune system is compromised, especially during pregnancy, it leads to shingles which is also called herpes zoster or zona. It is an infection that is caused by the same varicella zoster virus. Thus, if a woman had developed chickenpox once in her life, there are chances that she may develop this zoster during pregnancy. This is why many women wonder if zoster is infectious.
Is Shingles Contagious during Pregnancy?
The virus cannot be caught as they are the reactivation of the virus dormant in the body. As mentioned above, if one had chickenpox, they would never have it again in their life, however, it might get active when pregnant.
It is very frightening for a woman to develop zona during pregnancy as most of the cases show good prognosis related to the virus. When one is expecting, the body is under stress as it has to support the fetus, causing the immune system to weaken and thus, virus may take this opportunity to reactivate itself; posing risks to the unborn child as well.
It has been found that if a woman who is 30 weeks pregnant develops this infection, it may lead to birth defects in the child. However, the evidence related to these defects varies and no expert opinion has been found. Many experts agree that zoster is less likely to cause any harm to the fetus. Although, in extreme cases, it may lead to a miscarriage.
How Long is it Infectious?
Zosters are contagious from the time they cause an infection till the blisters pop out. This means, the virus remains infectious as long as the blisters do not dry out completely. It is present in the dry crusts formed from the blisters. When the crusts begin to peel off, the virus tends to spread through air and infect people who have never had chickenpox before. If they have a weak immune system, they may develop an infection. Thus, an expecting women should stay away from people affected by chickenpox or herpes zoster infection, especially if they have never had them before.
On spotting of any early signs, visit the doctor immediately. If one happens to catch the infection during the early stages of maternity, it is more likely to harm the baby. More than zona, the chickenpox virus is dangerous for the unborn baby. The treatment for it includes antiviral medications. Apart from these medications the doctor may recommend drugs that are safe to be taken during maternity. These include anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers, etc.
The virus is said to cause congenital birth defects in the newborn baby. Shingles during pregnancy is an extremely rare condition. Chances of a pregnant woman developing this condition is very rare and therefore quite vague. However, it is always wise to stay away from crowded places and areas that may lead to an infection. Eat right and take all the precautions possible. If one happens to develop any symptoms of shingles, visit the doctor immediately.
Disclaimer: This HerHaleness article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.