Shingles and Pregnancy

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

Quick GuideShingles Rash Pictures, Symptoms, Vaccine Facts

Shingles Rash Pictures, Symptoms, Vaccine Facts

What is the outlook (prognosis) for shingles in pregnancy?

Most cases of shingles heal without a risk of serious complications or long-term problems.

Can shingles in pregnancy be prevented?

If you have had chickenpox in the past, you have been infected with the VZV and there is no absolute way to prevent shingles. However, you cannot catch shingles from someone else who has shingles or chickenpox if you have had chickenpox or have immunity to the chickenpox virus. However, pregnant women who have not had chickenpox may catch chickenpox from someone with shingles or chickenpox. Chickenpox infection during pregnancy can be dangerous to the unborn baby, so it is important to avoid contact with people with shingles or chickenpox if you have not had the condition or the vaccine.

Children in the US today are typically vaccinated against the VZV (chickenpox vaccine). A vaccine to prevent shingles (Zostavax) is also available that reduces the incidence of shingles by about 50%, but the vaccine cannot be taken by pregnant women. Women who receive the Zostavax vaccine should wait at least 3 months before attempting pregnancy.

Medically reviewed by Wayne Blocker, MD; Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology

REFERENCES:

Medscape, Varicella-Zoster Virus.

"Shingles (Herpes Zoster)." CDC.gov. Updated Aug. 19, 2016.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/7/2016

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