Can a Child get Shingles?

Most of you may be wondering, “Can a child get shingles?”. The answer is a big fat YES. You can get Shingles at almost any age, and about five percent of cases occur during childhood, or in persons aged fifteen and below.

A battle with the itchy Chicken pox rash used to be a battle almost every child endure. But thanks to the developments in the world of vaccines, we can say goodbye to that annoying itch. Though being in this modern of an age, some still suffer this condition. And the earlier in life the child get Chicken pox, especially acquiring Chicken pox before turning three years old or being a child of a mom with Chicken pox during her third trimester of pregnancy, the bigger the chance he or she can acquire this dreadful Shingle rash during childhood. So, Yeah! To state the unfortunate truth, a child can get Shingles.

Herpes Zoster, or Zoster, or Shingles is assumed to be a reactivation of a latent or dormant, or in layman’s term, sleeping varicella virus infection and is perceived to be due to lowered immunity. After being itch-free and finishing the Chickenpox course (more like a curse), it is believed that this creeps aka Varicella Zoster virus lie dormant inside the nerve cells near the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). When these sleeping viruses are awakened and reactivated, Lo and behold, the occurrence of Shingles.             



  1. Shingles is also known medically as Zoster or Herpes Zoster.
  2. Shingles in caused by the Varicella Zoster Virus, similar to the cause of Chicken pox.
  3. Shingles can occur only, and only if, someone already has had run the course of Chicken pox. It is assumed to be a reactivation.
  4. Shingles in children are pretty rare and are usually occurring with mild clinical manifestations.
  5. Shingles is self-limiting, similar to almost all viral infections, and resolves in more or less, a month or thirty days.



       Disease Occurrence and Prevalence

Almost one out of three (33.33 percent) of people in the United States of America will develop Shingles or Herpes Zoster in the course of their lifetime. It is estimated that there are four cases of Herpes Zoster per one thousand (4 in 1,000) population. Nearly a million Americans go through this excruciatingly painful and itchy experience every year. Older adults are more likely to get the disease. About half or 50 percent of all cases occur in men and women aged 60 years and/or older. The incidence among people 60 years of age and older is about 10 cases per 1,000 people annually. And, only about five percent of cases (5 in 10,000 cases) occur during childhood, or in people aged 15 and below.

       Repeat Episode Occurrence

Studies show that Shingles can occur, and then reoccur, in an average of two to three episodes during a person’s lifetime, though the annual incidence of repeat episodes is still not known. Although usually, throughout one lifetime, a person can only manage 2 repeat episodes unless he or she is severely immuno-compromised. Such as children and adults with cancer and other immuno-depressive conditions.



The red rash is small, fluid-filled blisters, that shows up in clusters following a path of a nerve. The lesions is commonly accompanied or preceded by pain, which may be contained or spread throughout the entire dermatome of the affected nerve pathway. The pain may still be present after 30 days since the rash began.



Shingles presentation in adults and children are somewhat similar and different in many ways. Classic Herpes Zoster symptoms that present in adults are not at all detected in children suffering the same disease, which may make diagnosis difficult. It is often misdiagnosed as other more common skin rashes in children, such as impetigo, eczema or even poison ivy.

The Shingles rash occurring children often don’t have much pain, or even, don’t have any pain at all. They still get the same red rash which appears in clusters in a single band following a nerve path. A child that gets Shingles won’t have to worry getting the rash all over his or her body because the Herpes Zoster rash stays along its band of skin supplied by the affected nerve pathway called the dermatome, and it usually occurs only to one side of the body.

Usually occurring with less pain or no pain at all, children affected with Shingles also less frequently experience postherpetic neuralgia, or a pain in the affected nerve that last for 30 days or a month.

Children getting Shingles won’t really feel sick or ill, and usually is afebrile during the course of the disease.



Despite the aforementioned self-limiting feature of Herpes Zoster, one may still want to do some interventions for such a disease. In taking care of children with Shingles, the same goes with adults too, the approach is really just symptomatic care or palliative care. This means, the interventions will be directed not to directly eliminate the cause, which in this case is the Varicella Zoster Virus (this one seems impossible since a virus can only be dormant but not totally killed), but to only provide relief to the discomfort brought about by the clinical manifestations.

Most children as said above, will experience less pain or none at all. Only if needed, one can give Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. The itch of the rash can be alleviated through frequent bathing. No cream or ointment is needed for the rash. Also scratching, picking or bursting the rash is highly discouraged.

Children with Shingles or Herpes Zoster can transmit Chickenpox, but not Shingles, to others. Transmission will occur through direct contact with the rash. Though not as contagious as children with Chicken pox, the child affected is advised to stay out of school unless the rash can be kept covered until it dries and crusts over.



After all that’s been said, bottom line is, no one is safe from Shingles, of course with exemption to those vaccinated against Varicella Zoster Virus. Shingles or Herpes Zoster saves no one from its extremely itchy and painful clustered red rash. No regards of a person’s age and/or gender. Ensure a child is of optimum health to avoid being one of the 5 in 10,000.

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