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Shingles: What You Need To Know

Shingles: What You Need To Know

Shingles is a painful rash that develops on one side of the face or body. It is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains inactive in the body. It is unknown why the virus can reactivate years later, causing shingles. Almost 1 out of every 3 people in the U.S. will develop shingles in their lifetime, regardless of whether they had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine. 


·         1-5 days before the rash develops, there is often pain, itching, or tingling in the area where the rash will develop

·         The extremely painful rash consists of blisters that typically scab over in 7 to 10 days, and clear up within 2 to 4 weeks

·         The rash occurs in a single band around either the left or the right side of the face, head, body, arm, or leg

·         Other symptoms include fever, headache, chills, or upset stomach

·         It’s possible to have shingles more than once


·         Shingles can’t be passed from one person to another

·         However, direct contact with the blister’s fluid can cause chickenpox in someone who has never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine

·         A person is not infectious before the blisters appear

·         Once the rash has crusted, the person is no longer infectious


·         Blindness, if shingles occur in the eye

·         Post-herpetic neuralgia: severe pain in the area where the shingles rash was, even after the rash clears up

If you have shingles

·         Cover the rash

·         Avoid touching or scratching

·         Wash your hands often to prevent the spread of varicella zoster virus

Avoid contact with

·         People until the rash has crusted

·         Pregnant women who have never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine

·         Children less than 1 year of age (who are too young to receive the chickenpox vaccine)

·         People with weakened immune systems


·         Anti-viral medications: acyclovir, valacyclovir (Valtrex), and famciclovir (Famvir)

·         Pain medication

·         Wet compresses, calamine lotion, and colloidal oatmeal baths


The only way to reduce the risk of developing shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia is to get vaccinated.

Shingrix vaccine

·         Recommended for adults 50 years and older (although some insurance companies may not pay for the vaccine until age 60)

·         Inactive (killed) virus

·         Two shot series

·         Provides protection against shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia

·         More than 90% effective

·         It is recommended for those who have received the Zostavax vaccine

You should not get Shingrix if you:

·         Have ever had a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine

·         Your blood test shows that you’ve never had chickenpox. If you test negative for having had the chickenpox, you should get the chickenpox vaccine - not the shingles vaccine. (Studies show that more than 99% of Americans 40 years and older have had chickenpox, even if they don’t remember having the disease)

·         Currently have shingles

Zostavax may still be used to prevent shingles in certain cases for the following healthy adults: Shingrix allergy, the patient prefers Zostavax, or Shingrix is unavailable.

·         For adults 50 years and older

·         Live (weakened) virus

·         One shot

·         50% effective

·         Provides protection against shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia

For more information on Shingles, visit the CDC at: https://www.cdc.gov/shingles/index.html


A Good Night's Sleep

A Good Night's Sleep

Seasonal Allergies: Gesundheit!

Seasonal Allergies: Gesundheit!