Shingles During 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: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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.

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

REFERENCES:

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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Reviewed on 3/13/2017 12:00:00 AM