Shingles in children


Shingles is a skin disease that manifests itself primarily as one-sided reddening of the skin in certain areas of the skin. The reddening is usually accompanied by moderate to severe pain and bubbles the size of a pinhead.
People between the ages of 60 and 70 are most frequently affected. However, children can also contract the virus infection.

The disease is triggered by its pathogen: the varicella zoster virus (VZV) from the herpes virus family. Shingles can be counted as a late sequela of chickenpox infection.


Children who have had chickenpox before are usually immune to shingles.

The main cause of the varicella zoster virus is infection from other sick people. Usually this happens in kindergarten or elementary school, especially when children put a lot in their mouths and touch everything.

Usually the contents of the vesicles are infectious. Unfortunately, the blisters sometimes itch very badly and especially children scratch them. After that, the pathogens are of course distributed all over the hands and fingers of the children and can thus be transmitted to other children particularly well.


The doctor can diagnose shingles very easily.

In most cases, one is enough good medical history and physical examination. The characteristic vesicles are clearly visible on the skin. In addition, they make unmistakably characteristic symptoms. Nevertheless, if you are not sure whether it is actually the shingles, you can gain certainty with a smear in the laboratory.

For this purpose, the PCR - the polymerase chain reaction was used to examine mostly the bubble water for pathogens.

Course and duration

Normally the illness usually lasts no longer than 5 to 6 weeks.

The course of the disease is very characteristic of that Shingles.
At the beginning of the disease when the typical vesicles are not yet visible, the children are very sensitive in the places where vesicles will later appear. Even light touches can cause pain.

Kick after just a few days small vesicles that stand close together and are filled with highly infectious liquid. Besides, it can too flu-like symptoms come, which one also has if a gripal infect begins that are next fever and fatigueas well as listlessness also swelling of the lymph nodes.
The location of the vesicles can be varied.

In the case of children, however, it is usually said that they are in Trunk area occur. This can, for example, only affect the back or the stomach, but it can also extend around the body in a belt shape. In some children, however, the vesicles are also found in the head and neck area. Blisters can even appear on the face.

The difference to the chickenpoxwhere the blisters look the same is that they always appear in a specific area in shingles. They can usually be seen in groups. In chickenpox, on the other hand, the blisters can affect the whole body be scattered. The blisters themselves are often very itchy. All the scratching can leave scars later when the disease heals. You should therefore make sure that the children do not scratch themselves too much.
In addition, the pathogens are distributed very well to other patients within the vesicles. Pain is also possible, but it usually occurs more intensely in older people. Usually the dried up remains of the vesicles (scab) to about 4 weeks by itself from the skin.


Usually there is no special treatment Shingles intended for children.

The intact immune system can defend itself very well against the disease and it heals by itself after a while. Nevertheless, there are always children who have a weak immune system due to other serious illnesses or treatments or even an innate defect in the immune system and this is too weak to defend itself, a special therapy must be used.

One speaks here of drug therapy Antivirals. These are special drugs that should prevent the virus from spreading to larger areas of the body. Unfortunatelly it is Viruses slightly harder to handle than bacteriabecause they do not have their own metabolism.

So they are not so vulnerable. This is why the main focus is on the Viruses only remain limited to a small area and thus be kept in a clear number. But you have to do it within 72 hours apply so that they can develop their effect.
But you can relieve the pain and itchiness caused by the blisters on the skin. There are various creams that can be applied directly to the itchy areas to calm the itchiness. You can also use numbing Creams apply or in very severe cases Painkiller take in.

Shingles and Homeopathy

Shingles in children is usually harmless.
Symptomatic therapy is advisable because the vesicle-forming skin areas affected often itch and burn.

A homeopathic treatment can also be considered here as a supplement.
The tried and tested homeopathics include:

  • Mezereum
  • Rhus toxicodendron
  • Ranunculus bulbosus
  • Arsenicum album

Which medication is best to be recommended in which dosage should, however, be discussed with an experienced homeopath.

What drugs are used to treat shingles in children?

Itching and burning of the skin lesions can be relieved with an analgesic cream or powder.
Pain medication such as paracetamol can also be taken.
If the finding is more extensive, then drugs against the virus (mostly acyclovir) are certainly recommended. Basically there is no difference between the drugs used in adults with shingles. In children, however, the disease is often not so severe that mild pain relievers are sufficient to relieve symptoms.

Basically, you can remember that shingles is extremely rare in childhood. The children are usually immune to reinfection with the varicella-zoster virus (shingles) due to the recent chickenpox, because there are still enough antibodies against the virus. The course of the disease in children is also mostly harmless. Drug treatment is not always necessary.


The prognosis is good, especially for children. The disease usually heals on its own after less time.
Nevertheless, scars can remain if the little patients scratch too much and small wounds develop instead of the blisters. However, there is always the possibility that the disease will become more severe and cause nerve damage or paralysis, which can cause significant problems.

Read more on the topic: Post-zoster neuralgia

How long is shingles contagious?

Shingles causes itchy, fluid-filled blisters to form on the skin. These crust over the course and heal.

However, if the vesicles burst and empty their contents, you can become infected with the virus. If all the blisters are encrusted, you are no longer contagious.
This also applies to chickenpox. In contrast to shingles, the pathogens in chickenpox are also transmitted by droplets. This is not the case with shingles. Only contact with the contents of the vesicle is contagious.
It takes about 1-3 weeks for the blisters to crust.


Before contracting the Varicella zoster viruses it is difficult to protect yourself.

Of course one is adequate hygiene important and always caution, especially when you know that the other person is acutely contagious. Nevertheless, the vast majority of people become infected with the pathogen. At best, this happens as a child and you go through a proper one Chickenpox disease and thus has a good immunity against another infection or another outbreak of the disease.

As with many other diseases, it is also important to maintain the immune system and look after your health. The better that immune system the less likely the disease is to break out.

Risk of contagion

The causative agents of Shingles, the varicella zoster virus, is highly contagious.

However, it is only the content of the vesicles that contains the pathogen. If you don't scratch yourself, or if the blisters are well covered, for example under a thick sweater, you can do other things protect well against infection.
However, it is also possible that you can use the Sneeze or to cough infected when there are pathogens in the saliva.

Of course is on adequate hygiene to be careful, because washing your hands often minimizes the risk of infection. You should also be careful who you face during this time when you are ill. Especially the contact with Pregnant women, infants and People with a attacked immune system should be avoided.

At school

Many children are likely to be immunized, as some are already immunized Kindergarten time have had chickenpox.

Nevertheless, one is allowed to use one contagious disease not to school.
There are always a few children who have not yet become infected with the varicella zoster virus and they must never be exposed to the risk of coming into contact with it.

Therefore, in any case, the children should stay at home, or of course you should go to the doctor with them directly in order to rule out other skin diseases and, if necessary, to receive medication which, for example, alleviate the symptoms or receive medication for very immunodeficient children, so that virus can not spread further.

How dangerous is shingles?

Shingles is usually not dangerous in children.

It is usually much milder and causes significantly less pain and discomfort than in adult patients.
Nevertheless, as everywhere in medicine, there are exceptions. Those exceptions can be children, for example, who have a congenital immunodeficiency and the immune system is therefore very weak. There are also diseases such as cancer, which require severe forms of therapy that also significantly weaken the immune system.
Chemotherapy is undoubtedly an important example of a therapy that significantly and sometimes severely weakens the immune system. Great care should be taken with these children and they require different therapy and even more supervision and control.

You might also be interested in: Shingles on the head - you should definitely pay attention to this!

Shingles and Chickenpox - How are they related?

Chickenpox is caused by a certain strain of herpes virus, the so-called Varicella zoster-Virus. If this is adequately treated, the symptoms disappear after one to two weeks. What is special about all herpes viruses, however, is that they linger in the person's body even after the initial infection has healed. Here they hide in certain nerve cells and are inactive. This prevents the immune system from fighting these viruses. After a long time, certain triggers can reactivate these varicella-zoster viruses. The consequence is the clinical picture of shingles. This is usually limited to the nerve in whose cells the viruses were hiding while they were inactive. This is the reason for the typical spread of shingles. So people cannot get shingles without having ever had chickenpox in their life, as it must always precede the shingles. For example, if a person with shingles infects another person who has never been infected with the virus, that person will develop chickenpox and not shingles.


Shingles is a viral disease that is very common in adults.

The causative agent is the varicella zoster virus (VZV), which comes from the herpes virus family.
Shingles is a very painful disease in which a vesicular rash is visible on the surface of the skin. This rash causes what is called pain.

Usually, the viruses have been dormant in the body of those affected for years, who typically are very old and / or have a weak immune system before the onset of the disease.
The viruses can then be reactivated and break out in the form of shingles. As mentioned, the virus has been in the body for years.

Most of those affected were infected with the varicella zoster virus in childhood, which at that time was usually noticeable in the form of chickenpox. Only very few children develop shingles directly; if they do, then they are often symptom-free or have only very few symptoms. But chickenpox can be all the more severe. Most children are immune to shingles and its pathogens immediately after suffering from chickenpox, which can only reappear later under the conditions mentioned above. Nevertheless, there are still isolated children who develop shingles immediately after suffering from chickenpox.