How does one contract shingles? Shingles, caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, is an extremely painful condition characterized by painful blisters that erupt on one side of the face. A case of shingles is contagious, so it can spread from person to person by direct skin contact, sharing eating utensils or other personal things. But shingles isn’t transmitted by air or water either. You can develop blisters in other parts of your body, like the hands or feet, and transfer the infection to your patient.