Herpes zoster, also known as shingles, is a viral infection. It is caused by the same virus that causes
in children. After a child has recovered from chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in the body. The virus can be stimulated later in life, typically at age 60 and older. It is revived as the shingles virus.
The virus re-emerges as shingles for unknown reasons. Suspected causes include stress or a weakened immune system. It is typically only revived once with only one bout of symptoms. More than one episode can occur. It is a common illness in the US.
The virus that causes shingles can be spread to people who have not yet had chickenpox. These people would get chickenpox, not shingles.
The most common symptoms of shingles include:
Painful, itchy skin that turns into a rash
A rash of red, painful blisters
Rash often occurs only on one side of the body
Blisters that break open, then scab over
Fever, headache, chills
Shingles and its symptoms typically get better over time. Medicine may be given to reduce pain. Antiviral medicines, like
acyclovir, may be given to help the symptoms go away faster.
Possible complications include blindness, deafness, paralysis of the face, loss of taste, or infection. While rare, nerve pain may last for years.
What Is Herpes Zoster Vaccine?
This vaccine is a live, weakened form of the chickenpox virus. It is given as a shot under the skin.
Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?
Adults aged 60 and older may need the vaccine. One dose is typically given.
What Are the Risks Associated With the Herpes Zoster Vaccine?
Common, minor side effects: fever and local soreness
Less common, moderate side effects: red skin, swelling, or itching at the injection site, headache
What Other Ways Can Shingles Be Prevented Besides Vaccination?
If you have never had chickenpox, you cannot get shingles. However, you may be stricken with a severe case of chickenpox. If you had chickenpox, you are at risk for shingles. This is because the virus stays in your body. Getting the vaccine can reduce your risk.
What Happens in the Event of an Outbreak?
Shingles can be passed to others. It causes chickenpox in people who have not had the disease or the vaccine. These people should get the
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a