Shingles is a re-activation of a previously acquired chickenpox or varicella zoster, after which the virus remains dormant in the nerve cells. On reactivation, it presents as a blistering rash that you are experiencing.
Shingles is contagious and can be spread from an affected person to babies, children, or adults who have not had chickenpox. But instead of developing shingles, these people develop chickenpox. Once they have had chickenpox, people cannot catch shingles (or contract the virus) from someone else. Once infected, however, people have the potential to develop shingles later in life. As with chickenpox and/or other forms of herpes, direct contact with an active rash can spread VZV to a person who has no immunity to the virus.
This newly infected individual may then develop chickenpox, but will not immediately develop shingles. Until the rash has developed crusts, a person is extremely contagious. A person is also not infectious before blisters appear, or during postherpetic neuralgia (pain after the rash is gone). A rash takes about 6 days to crust, and is infectious as long as there are new blisters forming and old blisters healing. Similar to chickenpox, the time prior to healing or crusting of the blisters is the contagious stage of shingles. Once all of the blisters are crusted over, the virus can no longer be spread and shingles is no longer contagious. So yes it is best for you to isolate yourself till all your blisters scab or dry out.
Your wife, if she is not planning to get pregnant at the moment, can get vaccine for chichenpox or Varicella Zoster if she has not been exposed to the virus in her childhood. Please go through this site for more details http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chickenpox/DS00053/DSECTION=prevention
For more on shingles please visit this site for more details http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/shingles/DS00098
Kindly rate this answer and please ask other medical questions or concerns you may have.
Refer www.askmdx.com to your friends and family.
Like us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/AskMDx