Shingles (herpes zoster) is a painful skin rash that is described as having an itching, burning or tingling pain.
Shingles is caused by the same virus as chicken pox but because the virus never clears from the body, it can flare up years later due to an emotional or physical stress/illness.
Shingles more commonly occurs in those over the age of 60, however, anyone who has had chickenpox as a child (even a mild case) can develop shingles.
In my article, The Shingles Vaccine: How to Get One , information about how to get the vaccine was presented. The CDC recommends that those over the age of 60 be vaccinated, and there is evidence that it helps those aged 50 to 59 as well.
However, not everyone should receive the shingles vaccine. According to the CDC, the following people should not get a Zostavax vaccine:
- If you have a life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component of the shingles vaccine. Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies.
- A weakened immune system because of:
◦ HIV/AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system
◦ Treatment with drugs that affect the immune system, such as steroids
◦ Cancer treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy
◦ A history of cancer affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic system, such as leukemia or lymphoma
◦ Active, untreated tuberculosis
- Women who are or might be pregnant. Women should not become pregnant until at least three months after getting shingles vaccine. (WebMD 1)
If you are someone who cannot get the shingles vaccine or if you find you are having an outbreak of shingles (which can still occur even if you had the vaccine) what should you do?
First, go see you doctor as soon as you notice symptoms which are burning pain and sensitive skin that progress to small blisters on reddened skin.
Your doctor may prescribe antiviral medication which work best if taken within three days of developing symptoms. Antivirals may be taken by those who are immunosuppressed and if a woman is pregnant.