How to go tanning with shingles?

Updated on February 17, 2012
A.G. asks from Angola, IN
18 answers

Hi I was diagnosed with shingles a week ago the DR said since we caught it with in 48 hours the meds he prescribed would help. The rash should be nearly gone in a week. I was in a rush to get rid of the rash since my brother is getting married in 4 weeks and i have to wear a halter dress. I got several herbs from a herbalist I beleive the rash is faded but still quiet visible. I have been tanning and need to continue to do so my question is do any of you have experience with this. Do you think it is ok for me to tan with the shingles. will the tanning bed affect them at all? Or will it leave white spots when the rash is gone? Any other possible ways to get rid of the rash would be appriciated. the pain and itching I can deal with I need the rash gone by the wedding.

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Tanning with shingles is definitely not a good idea. Shingles is a contagious disease during the phase when patient develops blisters till the formation of crusts, patient should be careful to cover the blisters in order to stop the disease from spreading. Follow the treatment regime strictly that your doctor has prescribed, and avoid exposure to sunlight and keep patient in a cool and dry room.

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answers from Indianapolis on

ABSOLUTELY STOP TANNING!!! There are several decent tanning cremes out these days so there is NO need for it. I'd avoid it at all costs, ESPECIALLY with the shingles. Why take the risk of scars or white spots??




answers from Terre Haute on

I can't say that I would tan. Aren't shingles contagious? I would want to think about the other people who are using the tanning bed after you.

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answers from Columbus on

Dear A.,

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it sounds like you're going to have to choose between more rash and scars, or a tan. I have worked in the skin care industry for over 25 years, and I did a lot of research on the subject.

I had singles last year, and I was miserable. The rash didn't even begin to show up until about a week to ten days after my initial symptom, which was a very stiff neck, headache, and nausea, which I thought was the flu. By the time the rash showed up, I was already too far into the process of shingles for the medication to help.

Shingles is more than a rash. As a matter of fact, the rash was the least of my worries when I had it. My outbreak of shingles was along the route of the nerve that serves my right shoulder/chest/back. The entire time I had it, I had a persistent and intense ache in those areas that made it almost impossible for me to do anything. It's a reoccurance of the herpes virus that causes Chicken Pox. Once it's in your system, it can resurface at any time.

In all the research I did on shingles, I learned that sunlight (real of fake)will only make the rash worse. Sunlight can also causes permanent scarring. Heat is one of the worst things you can do for the rash. check the Mayo Clinic web site, or WebMD for more information.

I would forego the sun and tanning bed exposure, and look into using something along the lines of Sally Hansen's leg make-up to enhance the look of a tan. I've used that when I was wearing white, and it did not rub off on the garment (maybe a little bit in the inner seams, but nowhere else).

Also -- do not use self tanners when you have sores of any kind! They can collect in the sores, causing a darkening of the skin in that spot, and can result in a permanent scar. I know. With three cats at home, I've had my share of minor scratches that are now scars because I used self tanner while they were still healing.

I used coconut oil a few times a day on my rash scars, and they have diminished dramatically -- some of them have even disapeared completely.

Good luck, and treat your skin well! And, most of all -- have a great time at your brother's wedding!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Canton on

Well I wouldn't suggest you do tanning until you are for sure that you are cleared up. Shingles are contagious...and you laying in a public tanning bed where others will lay after you would not be right.



answers from Indianapolis on

Hi A.,
I'm sorry you are dealing with shingles. I've heard they are really painful.

I've read that exposing your shingles to UV can make your shingles flare up.

The usual treatment is prescription medicine.

I would love to offer you a product from my personal business that has had great results in treating clients with shingles. Arbonne's Skin Conditioning Oil is a blend of botanical oils and has helped relieve the pain and heal the skin of clients with shingles (one lady had a singles over her eye if you can imagine that!). I will offer it to you at wholesale cost.

Feel free to contact me if this is an option you would like to try and I will give you more info.




answers from Dayton on

I know it's tough because you don't want to have these things visible with your dress, but have you thought about tanning lotion? The only problem I foresee with going to a tanning salon, as many people have already mentioned is that shingles is contagious and you don't want to feel responsible for passing this "wonderful" little gift on... if lotion is not your thing(cause you think it'll make you orange) I would try out a place that does those spray tans. I've heard they work great and it'll probably give you better coverage over the rash. Can't hurt to try it out right? Try it out like tomorrow to give yourself enough time between the wedding and if you don't like it there are ways to scrub it off your skin. Lemon Juice, salt and a loofa work wonders;) If it works well you can get it touched up right before the wedding and ta da! gorgeous as ever!

Hope you figure out a solution that works for you!



answers from Indianapolis on

A., you might want to check out they have forums on there where you can ask questions. This is a site with experts on indoor tanning. I am not sure that I have seen your problem asked on there. Hope someone can help you on the site. It is full of indoor tanning info, I've learned a lot from it. I have tanned indoors since 1987 and still learn something new on their every day!



answers from Fort Wayne on

The tanning bed's UV rays may interact with the chemicals used to treat the rash. Often meds indicate do not use with direct sunlight, do not expose to extreme heat, etc. I would suggest tanning less often but using tanning excellerator and bronzer. They will help you get that deep tan a lot quicker. Additionally, with any rash the perspiration and evaporation process dries out the skin. Thus, when you tan, you are making the rash worse. Therefore, after tanning reapply a deep moisturizing lotion or topical medications to heal the skin.



answers from Cincinnati on

tanning is a big no no when you have shingles! The heat and sweat will just irritate the rash! I have chronic shingles (have had them in multiple places lots and lots of times!) The rash should be gone by the wedding try doin gthe spray on tan. That is what I did for my own wedding and it gives you a nice color and is not going to hurt the rash as a matter of fact if you still have a rash it will cover it up.



answers from Canton on

I don't think I'd chance it. Call the dr. and ask them, to be sure. If worse comes to worse, use a self-tanner. Tanning isn't good for your skin anyways.



answers from Columbus on

My diaghter gets shingles when she is under stress. It could be the stress of a cold or the stress of homework, but it pops up nearly every time, so you should know that it may come back, and you will need to know what causes this for you.

I have never seen anything that makes the spots fade but catching it early does help. The entire nerve is inflamed by the chicken pox virus, so you are not dealing with a dermatological issue, you are trying to heal much more under the surface so topical applications will probably not help you. It is not really a "rash" it is much more than that.

If you have exposed lesions that have not healed over, you should not be tanning at all. Other people can get chicken pox from you until they are healed. If you just started tanning recently for the wedding, is it even possible that this was a stress to your body that triggered your first outbreak...




answers from Jacksonville on

Tanning a lot is never good for your skin, with or without a rash.
I don't have advice on the shingles, but you should reconsider the tanning. I am 23 yrs old and 2 years ago I had a sore that later turned into a scab on my arm.
I am Native American with olive skin and I always thought fair skinned people got skin cancer....not so.
I was always working on my tan until I went to the doctor and they determined that the sore on my arm was cancerous. We caught it in time and I've had no other problems, but it did scare me enough to make me stop tanning in a tanning bed and to ALWAYS used sunscreen while outside.
4 weeks is still plenty of time to be outside in the sun without having to go to a tanning bed!
Good luck and I hope the rash clears up soon!



answers from Fort Wayne on

I don't know much about shingles, but I would assume you could pass it to other women through the tanning bed. If I were you, I'd stay out of the bed until the shingles are gone. You may want to consider a spray tan instead of the beds. There are lots of places that do them now. I think they're fairly affordable, but I'm not sure. You can always call the tanning place or your doctor and see what they say. Personally, I'd stay out of the bed though.



answers from Fort Wayne on

I would definatly NOT go into the tanning bed, not only for shingles but it's totally not healthy period. You could also be spreading the shingles to other women who use the booth after you. I know they are suppose to clean it between uses but you never know how clean it gets. I would recommend a spray tan. It'll probably cover up some of the redness AND lower your risk for skin cancer. Just my two cents, hope all goes well and it clears up soon!



answers from Cleveland on

Hi - maybe someone else said this already but I didn't notice. Tanning will worsen the shingles if it wasn't what contributed to the outbreak in the first place. People who get cold sores - oral variation of herpes virus? Often have an outbreak after exposure to a lot of sunlight or sunburn... the light aggravates the virus. Ya gotta stop tanning...



answers from New York on

There is some anecdotal evidence that exposure to sunlight (either fake or natural) can exacerbate the symptoms of shingles.

Shingles, is as most people here have mentioned an outbreak of the Herpes Zoster Virus (HZV) or the virus which causes Chicken Pox.

Sadly if you have had Chicken Pox as a child, there is every chance that you will suffer from Shingles at some point in your life. The virus is never completely overcome by the body and it resurfaces at times of stress our when the immune system is suppressed. Generally, the virus will always resurface at the same point, as it mostly uses the same nerve to travel it's troublesome way to the surface every time.

Now, back to the sunbeds. Let us be clear, sunbeds are not good for you full stop - but then quite often we knowingly do things that are bad for us all the time.

Firstly if you are going to use a sun bed with this condition try to use a stand up cabin rather than a bed. Until the scabs have healed over you could be infectious to people who have never had Chicken Pox. (Incidentally there are few people who have not had chicken pox, and those who haven't are generally under 18 and shouldn't be using sunbeds anyway!!) You cannot however pass on Shingles to someone who has already had Chicken Pox.

Secondly, cover the area that is effected. If it is your waist, or thigh or buttock wear a large pair of thick pants (underwear)... hey you wont get an all over tan.... but you have the best of both worlds - a tan where you need it, and a protected shingles rash where you don't.

And finally, remember this. You do this at your own risk. If you are taking acyclovir for shingles (which is a must if you can), this particular drug can have adverse effects in conjunction with strong sunlight. i.e you are likely to go red as a lobster!

I wish you luck with the wedding and ask you to judge whether you really need that tan enough!

(I am not a doctor or medical practitioner therefore this advice is purely speculatory. Anyone who needs advice about medical matters should always consult a physician).



answers from Columbus on

Hi A., shingles is contagious, I hope that you would wait for it to be gone before tanning. Try to get your self on the mend. Some things must take its course.



answers from Indianapolis on

This is what I found online.
I'd just ask that you respect the safety of others.
My dad had shingles when my daughter was born & he wasn't allowed to see her until the spots had scabbed over. Some people, infants being one, can get this from you.

Is Shingles a contagious disease?
Although the VZV virus that causes chickenpox and shingles disease can spread through the direct contact of any healthy person (who never had chickenpox in his/her life) with the open wounds/rashes/blisters of the patient suffering from shingles disease, Shingles is not a fully contagious disease.

A healthy person can never develop Shingles disease after he/she comes in informal contact (not involving much of physical contact, or a direct contact with the rash) with the patient suffering from Shingles, or sneezing or coughing of patient when the healthy person is in vicinity. The only phase when this disease is contagious is when the patient has developed blisters with clear fluid and the rash covering the blisters has not developed crusts.

Tips for the patients:

Shingles is a contagious disease during the phase when patient develops blisters till the formation of crusts, patient should be careful to cover the blisters in order to stop the disease from spreading

Follow the treatment regime strictly that your doctor has prescribed

Avoid exposure to sunlight and keep patient in a cool and dry room

Avoid scratching the area of rash

Next question: Kids Exposure to Shingles