Shingles During Pregnancy

Is shingles dangerous in pregnant women?

Pregnant women are susceptible to shingles, but fortunately, shingles in pregnancy is very rare. The antiviral medications described above are considered safe to use in pregnant women, as are most pain-relieving drugs. In the later stages of pregnancy, women should not take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve). However, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is considered safe even in the late stages of pregnancy.

The shingles vaccine should not be administered to pregnant women. It is recommended that a woman wait three months before trying to become pregnant after she has received the shingles vaccine.

Is chicken pox dangerous to pregnant women and their unborn babies?

Having chickenpox during pregnancy has the potential to cause birth defects, depending upon when in the pregnancy the infection occurs. The risk of birth defects is believed to be lower with shingles than with primary chickenpox infection. If you do not know if you have had chickenpox, a blood test can determine whether you have antibodies (immune protection) against the virus. Those who received the chickenpox vaccine as well as those who have previously had chickenpox will have antibodies in their blood that are directed against the VZV virus.

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References
Medically reviewed by Robert Cox, MD American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease

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Eastern, Joseph S. "Herpes Zoster." Medscape.com. Oct. 25, 2010. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1132465-overview>.

Krause, Richard S. "Herpes Zoster." eMedicine.com. Nov. 23, 2009. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/788310-overview>.

Miravalle, Augusto A. "Ramsay Hunt Syndrome." eMedicine.com. Aug. 20, 2009. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1166804-overview>.

"Shingles During Pregnancy." WebMD Medical Reference. July 10, 2009. <https://www.webmd.com/baby/shingles-during-pregnancy>.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Shingles (Herpes Zoster)." Jan. 10, 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/shingles/about/overview.html>.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccination." Jan. 19, 2012. <http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/shingles/default.htm>.

United States. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Zostavax (Herpes Zoster Vaccine) Questions and Answers." May 1, 2009. <http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/QuestionsaboutVaccines/UCM070418>.
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