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Indiana State Department of Health

ISDH Home > About the Agency > Schools Communicable Disease Guide > Shingles(Herpes Zoster) Shingles(Herpes Zoster)

Clinical Description
Herpes Zoster (Shingles) is the latent manifestation of the primary varicella infection caused by the herpes zoster virus. Shingles is characterized as a rash on one side of the face or body. The only symptom of shingles includes pain, itching, or tingling in the area where the rash develops prior to blistering. Lesions generally appear along nerve pathways in crops similar to the varicella lesions. Shingles is extremely painful. The rash usually clears within 2 to 4 weeks. Although uncommon, shingles can occur in school age children and vaccinated persons. 

Incubation Period
Shingles is not transmitted from exposure to another infected person so there is no applicable incubation period. Anyone who has recovered from varicella may develop shingles.

Mode of Transmission
Transmission of the virus occurs through direct contact with the rash or fluid from the lesions. If the person exposed has not previously had chicken pox, that person would develop chicken pox, not shingles. Therefore, shingles cannot be passed from one individual to another.

Period of Communicability
A person can no longer spread the herpes zoster virus once the rash lesions crust over.

If the site of the infection can be covered, individuals with shingles are not considered to be highly contagious and should not be excluded from school.


  • People with shingles should keep the rash covered and not touch or scratch the rash.
  • Wash hands properly and often.
  • There is no shingles vaccine available for children; however, administration of the varicella vaccine will prevent infection if contact with a shingles case occurs.

Other Resources
Indiana State Department of Health Quick Fact Link:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Link: