Working with shingles?

  1. I found out today that I have shingles. I will be calling my supervisor in the morning, but I was wondering what your hospital's policy is on whether or not you are allowed to work with a shingles outbreak. If I were scheduled to work tomorrow I would be calling in because I feel lousy. Luckily I am not scheduled again until Saturday and hopefully the antiviral med I was prescribed will help me feel better by then.
    I work in the NICU and am not sure what our policy is. I want to work if I feel better but I also don't want to risk exposing the babies I care for to the chicken pox virus. That could be devastating to an immature immune system.
    My PCP said he usually tells his patients they can work if they feel up to it, but in my case he said he wasn't sure.
    Also, any suggestions on "comfort measures" for shingles? The pain is driving me nuts. I have been taking ibuprofen but will call my PCP in the morning to tell him it isn't helping. He said if needed, he could call in a script for something stronger but I was just wondering if anybody had any tips for getting through this without pain meds.
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    About matchstickxx

    Joined: Oct '05; Posts: 95; Likes: 7


  3. by   HisHands
    if they are currently active, my facility won't allow you to come in. we require a clear from the pcp.
  4. by   Kymmi
    I feel your pain---literally. I had a outbreak of shingles in March of this year..never had shingles before in my life. It lasted 4 weeks and did not go away after two rounds of Valtrex. They were actually caused because I had a reaction to a new diabetic medication I started on. I know that sounds strange but I went off the med and they went away...went back on the med and they came back and then went away when I stopped the med again. I work in CVICU and they would not allow me to work until the areas had dried up.
    As far as the'll get worse before it gets better so I would get the script for the stronger med just in case and if you dont take it then good but at least you'll have it. I took lots of cool showers and I used calamine lotion (alot of it).
  5. by   nursemary9
    We're not allowed to work if we have active Shingles.
  6. by   oramar
    Chicken pox would be devastating to the immune suppressed patient, as so many of our patients are, so most places do not allow you to work till they have reached the scabbed over stage.
  7. by   meownsmile
    Most facilities would NOT let you work with active shingles and im sure they would require a release from your PCP before you came back.
  8. by   time4meRN
    Most places don't want you to work . But, on the other hand , many don't seem to care. (not saying that is wise) but still they don't care. All they care about is the bottom line. We've had nurses working with active shingles, pink eye etc. I work in the ER. I wouldn't wan a nurse with shingles caring for my loved one that is on chemo, or pink eye with my child. Oh well, in the real world we all know how hospitals are. Hope you feel better soon.
  9. by   BittyBabyGrower
    In our NICU, you have to be treated and cleared by employee health and your PCP.
  10. by   AlabamaBelle
    No go at my facility. Pink-eye, chickenpox & shingles are absolute no ways. Requires clearance from Employee Health. The only good thing is that since Employee Health requires us not be anywhere near the hospital, it is an excused absence and is not counted in absences.

  11. by   FNimuaeMae
    I had the shingles about 3 years ago when I still worked med/surg. I only had it on my torso; I caught it really early and got on the antivirals quickly. I never developed pain, it was just itchy. I hadn't a clue how my workplace would be and in the end they let me work because it was only on my torso, and therefore covered up. It was wierd. I can't imagine how it would be now with the various immune compromised people I work with...can't imagine how it would be with working with babies!:uhoh21:

  12. by   chuck1234
    I had rash on my face and my supervisor asked me to go to Employee Health where it sent me to ER. After the ER doctor told me that I might have shingles, he placed me in an isolation room. His dx on me was confirmed later on by a dermatologist. I was sent home, and I was not allowed to go back to work until it was cleared by my family doctor and Employee Health. In your case, I think it is better for you to stay home.
    Regarding to the pain, it is so painful, you have to discuss it with your doctor. In my case, my doctor gave me the neurontin for pain; but I never took them inasmuch as the known side effects made me think twice before I took them. Ibuprofen, from my point of view, is not strong enough. I am so sorry that you have to go through what I had gone through, because it is painful experience.
    Good luck!
  13. by   Indy
    It depends on your level of pain. The neuropathy with my first outbreak was bad enough for opiates, but fortunately it hasn't been that bad since then because I don't like feeling pukey.

    Lidocaine patch, cut to size or whatnot, is good if your doc will prescribe it. Keep it clean, dry, etc. As far as work, mine's covered up so ok unless the patients are immunocompromised. And it's been a long time since the last breakout.
  14. by   TazziRN
    No matter what the usual policy is, nobody who works in a NICU or with other super-high-risk pts should be working with shingles.