Okay, so at first it sounds bad, huh? I'm sure my mother-in-law is probably flipping with the title and eager to know what this is all about.
Well, at some point in my past, I had chickenpox, a highly contagious type of herpes (varicella-zoster virus). The virus then decided to take a long nap somewhere in my nerves, until a couple of weeks ago when it woke up in its new form called shingles (herpes zoster).
As explained by WebMD, shingles is a painful rash that usually appears in a band, a strip, or a small area on one side of the face or body. It is more common in older adults and people with weak immune systems due to stress, injury, certain medicines, or other reasons.
The virus spreads along spinal nerves. In my case, my shingles decided to spread from my lower back down the thoracic nerve to my right lower abdomen.
The first time I noticed a burning sensation on my lower abdomen was on the 28th of December. I didn't think much of it. I thought perhaps after all the holiday cheer, the workout was sweating toxins and making my skin breakout.
Then on Monday I noticed a cluster of blisters on my rash and lower back. I naturally began to research my symptoms online, but dismissed it as being shingles since it was more common in older adults and it had "herpes" in the name. Ewww. I decided self-diagnose it as skin allergies and began treating as such with warm oatmeal baths and cortisone cream.
I then began to feel constant burning sensation and tingly and prickly feeling along one side of my abdomen. Nights were uncomfortable. I couldn't lay on my back too long, nor could i sleep on my side. Anything that touched my skin triggered a response.
I decided to visit my doctor after a week and a half of living with this uncomfortable rash. After a quick look at it, he determined I indeed, a 36 year old male, had shingles. I was mortified, yet relieved. Supposedly, shingles only happens once. And at least it wasn't anything too serious.
As for contagious, shingles is only contagious if there are open sores and if there is skin to skin contact with the open sores. Shingles will not cause shingles, but may cause chickenpox if the person has never had chickenpox.