Lin-Manuel Miranda Has Quarantined Himself After His Shingles Diagnosis—Here’s Why
He says he's staying away from his newborn son "til further notice."
Lin-Manuel Miranda has contracted shingles. In a tweet posted on Thursday, the Moana composer explained his diagnosis and treatment plan.
"Hey, cool story," he wrote. "This isn't a migraine, it's shingles! Caught it early, quarantined away from the baby, in a Phantom mask til further notice."
Miranda first started talking about his symptoms earlier this week, complaining that he was experiencing the "worst migraine of [his] life."
A headache can be one of many initial symptoms of shingles, but signs that you have this painful infection can appear in stages. Some people, like Miranda, experience symptoms of a viral infection, such as headache, fever, chills, fatigue, or nausea. Others may feel tingling pain or sensitivity across a band of skin, usually on one side of the body. Sometime between a few days and two weeks later, a red rash forms on the skin. This rash can look like red patches of skin covered in bumps that eventually erupt into fluid-filled blisters that ooze before drying out and crusting over. It's as unpleasant as it sounds; Health writer Amanda Macmillan, who developed the infection last year at age 34, called it "the worst pain I've ever felt."
Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus. Sound familiar? That's because the first time you contract this virus, usually as a child, you develop chickenpox. If the virus reawakens later in life, it’s considered shingles. Although we don't know exactly why some people suddenly develop the virus a second time, it's more likely to flare in those with weakened immune systems and people over age 60 (Miranda is 38). Most people usually contract shingles just once, but it is possible to get it a second or third time. And while there is a vaccine to prevent shingles, it’s usually recommended for people 60 and older.
And while it’s heartbreaking that the new dad can’t see his eight-week-old son Francisco, it’s probably for the best that he has quarantined himself: People with shingles are advised to stay away from premature or low birth weight infants until the rash has developed crusts, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While you can't pass shingles to another person, you can give them chickenpox if they haven't had it before.
To treat his shingles, Miranda has most likely been prescribed antiviral medication—and hopefully, since he says he caught it early, he'll be able to shorten the duration of the rash. Doctors may also recommend that shingles patients pop some Advil or Tylenol, since over-the-counter or prescription pain-relief medicines as well as topical numbing agents may help ease pain.
Shingles episodes typically last two to six weeks, and it can take five to 10 days for the blisters to dry out and form scabs. We're wishing Miranda a speedy recovery so he can return to his new dad duties soon.