Flying with shingles – will you be able to travel? Your at-a-glance guide to shingles

Has shingles struck just days before you’re about to jet off on holiday? Read on to find out if it could stop you from flying…

silhouette holiday couple (flying with shingles)

Don’t let shingles ruin your holiday

Can I fly with shingles?

You can usually travel with shingles but it is best to check with your airline and receive a fit to fly letter from your doctor confirming you are not contagious.

Generally, you can fly with shingles if it is on a covered part of the body, however if it is on your face, it is likely you will require the ‘fit to fly’ letter from a doc.

What is shingles?

Caused by the varicella-zoster virus – the same virus that causes chickenpox – shingles is an infection of a nerve and the skin around it.

Who can get shingles?

Roughly one in four people will have at least one episode of shingles during their life. Once you’ve had chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus remains inactive in your nervous system, but it can be reactivated later in life and result in shingles.

Causes are having a lowered immune system which can be caused by (but not limited to):

  • Old age
  • Physical and emotional stress
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Chemotherapy

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Is shingles contagious?

You can’t catch shingle from someone suffering from the condition, or from someone with chickenpox. However, it is possible to catch chickenpox from someone with shingles if you have not already had it.

The blisters caused by shingles contain the live virus, so if someone who has never had chickenpox before makes direct contact with an open blister or the fluid, they could go on to develop it.


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How can I ease the symptoms of shingles?

As soon as you suspect shingles, you must speak to your GP straight away, they can prescribe you with medicine to assist the speed of your recovery.

You can also ease the symptoms at home as well:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing
  • Apply a cool compress to the affected area a few times a day
  • Ensure the rash is kept clean and dry
  • Use calamine lotion to reduce itching

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