If you have recently been diagnosed with shingles and have a flight planned, you may wonder if flying is safe.
Shingles can be a painful and uncomfortable condition, and the added stress of traveling can make it even more challenging.
You can fly with shingles. However, air travel can pose some risks and considerations.
In this article, we will explore whether it is possible to fly with shingles and what precautions you should take if you decide to travel.
What Are Shingles?
The varicella-zoster virus causes it, the same virus that causes chickenpox.
After a person has chickenpox, the virus can remain dormant in their body and reactivate later in life, leading to shingles.
The most common symptom of shingles is a painful rash that forms on one side of the body, usually in a strip or band-like pattern.
Now that we’ve discussed what shingles are let’s explore whether it is safe to fly with this condition.
Is It Safe To Fly With Shingles?
Flying with shingles can pose some risks and considerations.
Here’s what you need to know before deciding to fly:
Pain And Discomfort
Shingles can cause severe pain, discomfort, and sensitivity to touch.
The pressure changes during a flight, such as take-off and landing, can exacerbate these symptoms and make the journey extremely uncomfortable.
Shingles are caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which can be contagious to individuals who have not had chickenpox or have not been vaccinated against it.
It is important to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus, especially if you are near other passengers.
Weakened Immune System
Shingles often occur in individuals with weakened immune systems.
Traveling on an airplane, with its close quarters and potential exposure to germs, can further compromise your immune system and increase the risk of other infections.
Travel Insurance Coverage
Depending on your travel insurance policy, flying with shingles may not be covered.
It is important to check with your provider to understand what medical conditions are covered and if any restrictions apply.
What Does The Airlines Say About Flying With Shingles?
While airlines don’t have specific policies regarding flying with shingles, they do advise caution and recommend considering the following:
Consult With A Healthcare Professional
Before traveling, it is essential to consult with your healthcare professional to assess the severity of your condition and determine if flying is safe for you.
Take Medications As Prescribed
If you have been prescribed antiviral medications or pain relievers for your shingles, take them as your doctor directs.
Practice Good Hygiene
To prevent the spread of the virus, practice good hygiene by washing your hands frequently and covering your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
Avoid Close Contact
Minimize close contact with other passengers, especially those more susceptible to infections, such as pregnant women, young children, or individuals with weakened immune systems.
Drink plenty of fluids during the flight to stay hydrated and help alleviate any discomfort.
It is important to note that each airline may have its policies and guidelines regarding specific medical conditions.
It is advisable to contact your airline directly to inquire about their regulations and any necessary documentation or precautions before flying with shingles.
What Are The Tips For Managing Pain And Discomfort During The Flight?
Flying with shingles can be uncomfortable and painful, but there are several steps you can take to manage the pain and discomfort during the flight.
Take Pain Medication
If your doctor has prescribed pain medication, take it as directed before the flight to help manage the pain.
Make sure to carry the medication with you in your carry-on bag.
Apply Topical Cream
Consider applying a topical cream or ointment recommended by your doctor to help relieve the pain and itching associated with shingles.
Use Cold Compresses
If the affected area is particularly painful or swollen, you can use a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in a thin cloth to help numb the area and reduce inflammation.
Wear Loose Clothing
Choose loose-fitting clothing from soft, breathable fabrics to prevent rubbing against the rash and minimize discomfort.
Drink plenty of water during the flight to stay hydrated.
This can help alleviate dryness and itching associated with shingles.
If the individual also has symptoms of hernia then it is best to communicate about it with the healthcare provider.
What Are The Precautions To Prevent The Spread Of Shingles During Flight?
To prevent the spread of shingles during a flight and protect others, take the following precautions:
Cover The Rash
Keep the affected area covered with a clean, dry bandage or clothing to prevent direct contact with other passengers.
Practice Good Hygiene
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.
Avoid touching the rash and then touching other surfaces or objects.
Avoid Close Contact
Try to maintain distance from other passengers, especially those with a weakened immune system or who are pregnant.
Follow Respiratory Etiquette
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing to prevent respiratory droplets from spreading.
Inform Others As Necessary
If you interact closely with other passengers or crew members, informing them about your condition and the precautions you are taking may be appropriate.
Remember, it’s always best to consult with your healthcare provider and follow their recommendations before flying with shingles to ensure your well-being and the safety of others on board.
What Are The Potential Complications Of Flying With Shingles?
Flying with shingles can lead to complications and discomfort.
Here are some potential complications to be aware of:
Pain And Discomfort
The pressure changes during the flight can cause increased pain and discomfort, particularly if you have shingles lesions on sensitive areas of your body.
Increased Risk Of Secondary Infections
The weakened immune system associated with shingles can increase the risk of secondary infections.
It’s important to keep the affected area clean and avoid scratching or picking at the rash.
Spread Of The Varicella-Zoster Virus
Shingles are caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which can be spread to individuals who have not had chickenpox or have not been vaccinated against it.
Avoiding direct contact with others during the flight is important if the rash is visible.
Disruption Of Travel Plans
Airlines may sometimes require individuals with contagious conditions to reschedule their flights or provide medical documentation.
It’s essential to check with your airline’s policy before flying.
Taking proper precautions, managing your symptoms, and seeking medical advice before flying can help minimize complications and ensure a smoother journey with shingles.
Always consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice and guidance.
In conclusion, it is generally safe to fly with shingles if the rash is covered and not actively oozing or contagious.
However, consulting with a healthcare professional before making any travel arrangements is highly recommended.
They can provide personalized advice based on your situation and help determine if flying with shingles is safe.
Overall, while flying with shingles is generally safe, it is essential to prioritize your health and well-being.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry regarding your health.
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How Long Does It Take To Recover From Shingles?
The recovery time for shingles can vary from person to person.
In most cases, the rash and pain associated with shingles can last anywhere from two to four weeks.
However, some individuals may experience lingering pain, known as postherpetic neuralgia, lasting for months or even years after the rash has healed.
It is important to follow your healthcare professional’s advice and take prescribed medications to help manage the symptoms and promote healing.
What Does Travel Insurance For Shingles Cover?
Travel insurance for shingles typically covers medical expenses related to the treatment of shingles while traveling.
This may include doctor visits, prescription medications, and hospitalization if necessary.
It is important to read the policy details carefully to understand what is covered and any applicable limitations or exclusions.
Also, disclosing any pre-existing conditions, including shingles, is advisable when purchasing travel insurance to ensure proper coverage.
Do You Have To Quarantine With Shingles?
Individuals with shingles are not required to quarantine unless they have a weakened immune system or if the rash is oozing and contagious.
However, practicing good hygiene and taking necessary precautions is essential to avoid spreading the virus to others.
It is always best to consult a healthcare professional for guidance on quarantine recommendations based on your condition.