Can You Get Shingles More Than Once
Shingles is a severe skin rash caused by the herpes zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. Those affected typically only experience the condition once . However, in rare cases, shingles recurs.
Estimates vary as to how common recurrence is. Some populations, including those that are immunocompromised, are more prone to it. One wide-ranging study found that as many as 5% of those who experience the condition develop it again within eight years.
Clearly, its worth looking at why this happens, what the risk factors are, as well as how to prevent shingles relapse.
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Is It Possible To Get Shingles Twice
Most people who get shingles only experience it one time in their lives. However, it is possible to get shingles more than once . This is known as recurrent shingles. Getting vaccinated can help minimize the chance that this will happen.
These are only a few of the many questions people may have about Shingrix. To learn more about the vaccine and shingles, individuals can consult a medical professional.
Plus Why It’s Important To Get The Shingles Vaccineeven If You’ve Had Shingles Before
Lambeth Hochwald is a believer that everyone has a story to tell. As a New York City-based journalist, she has been busily covering COVID-19 and its effects on everyone from college students and their parents to restaurant workers and ER doctors. Over the last few decades, she’s written for the New York Post, CNN, Parade, WebMD, Millie, Reside, the Food Network, Delish, and Architectural Digest, always with the same mandate to be compassionate, hence the hashtag #compassionatejournalism that she includes in her email auto-signature. When she’s not juggling assignments, she’s helping to teach the next generation of journalists in her role as an adjunct professor of journalism at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.
Its tough enough to endure shingles once in your life. After all, its painful to experience the red blister-like bumps that are characteristic of shingles, caused by a reactivation of the varicella zoster virus .
Its really rare to get chickenpox twice. But is it possible to get shingleswhich can feel intensely painful, like a burning, stabbing sensation and can last for two to six weeksmore than once?
Unfortunately, it is possible to get shingles twice . In fact, of the one in three people who experience shingles, women are at a higher risk of developing it a second time than men are. The longer you experience severe pain after shingles , the higher your chances of a shingles recurrence.
Who Should Be Vaccinated With Shingrix
The Shingrix vaccine is recommended for those 50 years of age and older who are in good health.
You should get the Shingrix vaccine even if:
- Youve had shingles already.
- Youve been previously vaccinated with Zostavax . If youve been vaccinated with Zostavax, wait at least eight weeks before getting vaccinated with Shingrix.
- You dont know for sure if youve ever had chickenpox.
Ask your healthcare provider, who knows your entire health history if getting this vaccine is right for you.
How To Pay For Shingrix
Commercial insurance covers about 96% of insured people for the Shingrix vaccine. Most people with private insurance will pay under $5 for each dose.
Programs like Medicaid cover Shingrix in certain states. Medicare Parts A and B do not cover the shingles vaccine. But individuals covered under Medicare prescription drug plans, or Part D, will have their vaccines covered.
For people who do not have access to insurance, there are a number of vaccine assistance programs and affordable health coverage options available. Many of these programs provide vaccines at little or no cost.
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How Is Shingles Spread
You do not “catch” shingles it comes on when there’s a reawakening of chickenpox virus that’s already in your body. The virus can be reactivated because of a range of issues, including advancing age, medicine, illness or stress.
Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles. It’s estimated that around 1 in 5 people who have had chickenpox go on to develop shingles.
Read more about the causes of shingles.
You Can Get Shingles More Than Once
Most people will only have one outbreak of shingles in their lifetime, but “in rare cases, it can reactivate a second time and cause another episode of shingles,” says Amesh A. Adalja, MD, an infectious disease physician and senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
A second or third bout of shingles happens the same way as a first outbreak the virus reactivates and spreads to your skin. However, experts don’t know exactly what causes the virus to deactivate and reactivate.
A study published in 2011 in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that among more than 1600 shingles patients, about 5% experienced a second outbreak. It is possible to have a third outbreak of shingles, but this happens very rarely.
Keep in mind that if you’ve already had shingles once, you can’t get infected again from someone with shingles or chickenpox. The only way that you can have multiple bouts of shingles is through the reactivation of the dormant virus in your own body.
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How Long Do Shingles Last
The answers varies, but most reliable sources say shingles typically lasts three to five weeks. And while there’s no cure for shingles, your doctor can prescribe medications to speed your recovery time and reduce your pain.
My doctor started me on an anti-viral treatment right away. Turns out sooner is better, and I was lucky to have caught the symptoms of shingles before any blisters showed up.
Despite being in pain, achy, exhausted, and running a low fever, I was fortunate to have a great doctor who helped me avoid some of the most painful aspects of a shingles rash by treating me immediately.
How Do You Get Shingles
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you’ve had chickenpox, you can get shingles.
Until I was diagnosed with shingles, I didn’t realize that once you’ve had chickenpox, the varicella zoster virus remains dormant in your body for the rest of your life. The virus may later become reactivated, causing the nerves and surrounding skin to become painful and inflamed, and thereby producing shingles. Sneaky little virus.
The only thing I remember about having chickenpox is lying on the couch with my brother, both of us dotted with the pink anti-itch lotion our mom had applied to our rashes with a cotton ball, but I’ve definitely had it.
According to The Mayo Clinic, the reactivated virus travels along your nerve pathways, causing painful blisters to appear on your skin. That’s how my doctor knew exactly what I had without even having to see me. What seemed totally random and bizarre to me was actually so specific, it led her right to a shingles diagnosis.
So, in sort of an odd way, you kind of get shingles from yourself or from your younger self, that is. Thanks a lot, kindergarten me!
My bigger question was how I got shingles at a relatively young age. I thought shingles was an “old people” disease.
I was thinner, but I was decidedly not healthier. My mind and body were stressed, and that made me extra vulnerable to developing shingles.
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When Should I See My Doctor
See your doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing any symptoms of shingles. Starting treatment with antiviral medicines within 3 days of the rash appearing should reduce the severity of symptoms and the risk of further complications, including post-herpetic neuralgia.
See your doctor straight away if you have symptoms of shingles and are experiencing the following:
- symptoms that affect your eye area
- a temperature of 38°C or higher
You should also see your doctor if you are pregnant, or have a weakened immune system due to medicine that suppresses the immune system, or a condition that weakens your immune system.
How Is Postherpetic Neuralgia Treated
Treatments include lotions or creams and/or other medications not specifically used for pain, such as antidepressants or drugs for epilepsy. Regular pain relievers are not usually effective for this type of pain.
If your pain doesnt lessen, you might try therapies like nerve blocks or steroid injections near the area where the nerves exit the spine. Your provider might suggest an implantable nerve stimulator device for severe, ongoing pain that hasnt responded to other treatments.
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How To Avoid Getting Shingles More Than Once
Getting the shingles vaccine protects you against shinglesand from a shingles recurrence too.
Zostavax, approved in 2006, was once the only shingles vaccine available to older individuals. As of November 2020, Zostavax is no longer available in the US.
Another vaccine, Shingrix, was approved in 2017 by the FDA for adults 50 and older, and its said to be over 90% effective, according to the CDC.
This new vaccine is a very important one for all of us to consider, Dr. Cutler said. In my practice we routinely recommend this vaccine to everyone over 50.
With the possibility that shingles can recur, experts urge anyone who has had shingles to be vaccinated as well. I believe that its imperative that you work with your health care provider to get vaccinated as soon as youre in this age range or have had shingles, Dr. Cutler said.
Shingrix is given in two doses, scheduled two to six months apart. Its important to note that you should also get Shingrix even if you had Zostavax, the older shingles vaccine, Dr. Cutler added. You should also get it if you dont know if you had chickenpox as a child.
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Can You Get Shingles If You Havent Had Chickenpox
No. You cant get shingles if youve never had chickenpox, but you can get chickenpox from someone who has shingles. If youve never had chickenpox and you come into direct contact with the oozing, blister-like rash of someone with shingles, the varicella-zoster virus can infect you and you would develop chickenpox.
Once youve had chickenpox, you could develop shingles at some point in your life. This is because the varicella-zoster virus never fully goes away after youve had chickenpox. It lies quietly inactive in your nerve tissue. Later in life, the virus may become active again and appears as shingles.
Can you get chickenpox more than once?
Its rare to get chickenpox twice in your life. Once youve had chickenpox, youre usually immune to it for the rest of your life. However, its not totally impossible. If you have a severely weakened immune system , you can get chickenpox a second time. If youve had chickenpox, you are more likely to get shingles at some point in your life than a repeat bout of chickenpox.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Shingles
Often the first shingles symptoms happen in the area where the rash will appear. A person may have tingling, itching, or pain in this area. When the rash shows up, the pain may be mild or severe.
The rash starts as groups of tiny pimples on one side of the body or the face. It’s often in the shape of a band or belt. The pimples change to pus-filled blisters that break open and scab over in about 710 days. The scabs usually heal and fall off about 24 weeks after the rash starts.
Some kids with shingles also may have a fever and a headache, and might feel tired and achy. Rarely, a child has the pain of shingles without the rash. More severe symptoms can happen, but usually in people over age 50.
Different Childhood Vaccines Can Be Given At The Same Time
Many vaccines are recommended early in life to protect young children from dangerous infectious diseases. In order to reduce the number of shots a child receives in a doctors visit, some vaccines are offered as combination vaccines. A combination vaccine is two or more different vaccines that have been combined into a single shot. Combination vaccines have been in use in the United States since the mid-1940s. Examples of combination vaccines are: DTap , trivalent IPV , MMR , DTap-Hib, and Hib-Hep B.
Often, more than one shot will be given during the same doctors visit, usually in separate limbs . For example, a baby might get DTaP in one arm or leg and IPV in another arm or leg during the same visit.
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You Can Only Get Shingles If You’ve Had Chickenpox
Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is a condition caused by the same virus as chickenpox. About 350,000 Americans get chickenpox each year, which causes an itchy rash that lasts about a week. But even after your symptoms stop, the virus never leaves your body.
Most viruses are killed by your immune system, but the chickenpox virus hibernates inside your nerve roots, which are cords that transmit pain and itching sensations to your skin. You don’t feel any symptoms while the virus is dormant because your immune system stops the microbes from multiplying.
But as you age, your immune system tends to gets weaker. Like a collapsed dam, this weakened defense can let in a flood of viral microbes to your system, causing the virus to spread from your nerve root into your skin, and ultimately leading to a shingles outbreak.
Who’s Most At Risk Of Shingles
People tend to get shingles more often as they get older, especially over the age of 70. And the older you are, the worse it can be. The shingles rash can be extremely painful, such that sufferers cannot even bear the feeling of their clothes touching the affected skin.
The pain of shingles can also linger long after the rash has disappeared, even for many years. This lingering pain is called post-herpetic neuralgia .
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Urgent Advice: Get Advice From 111 As Soon As You Suspect Shingles
You might need medicine to help speed up your recovery and avoid longer-lasting problems.
This works best if taken within 3 days of your symptoms starting.
111 will tell you what to do. They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one.
Go to 111.nhs.uk or .
Get an urgent GP appointment
A GP may be able to treat you.
Ask your GP surgery for an urgent appointment.
If You Have More Than One Area Of Blisters What Can You Expect If You Go To The Hospital
Its important to note that most people with shingles dont need to be in a hospital, but if you do:
- Youll be in a contact isolation room.
- The door will be kept closed.
- A sign on your door will remind people who have never had chickenpox or the vaccine not to enter.
- The sign will also remind staff to wear gowns and gloves when entering the room.
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If You Get The Shingles Vaccine Does This Mean Youre 100% Protected From Getting Shingles
No. Just like most vaccines, getting vaccinated with a shingles vaccine doesnt provide 100% protection from disease. However, getting the shingles vaccine reduces your risk of developing shingles.
Even if you do develop shingles, youll be more likely to have a mild case. Also, youll be much less likely to develop postherpetic neuralgia, a painful condition that can follow a shingles outbreak.
Can You Still Develop Shingles If Youve Been Vaccinated For Chickenpox
Yes. Despite being vaccinated for chickenpox, you can still get shingles. No vaccine is 100% protective, and the effectiveness of vaccines lessens with time. However, people who get the chickenpox vaccine are significantly less likely to develop shingles later in life compared with people who never received the chickenpox vaccine. One recent 12-year study found that the number of shingles cases was 72% lower in children who had received the chickenpox vaccine compared with those who didnt.
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Herpes Zoster In People Who Received Varicella Vaccine
Although herpes zoster has always been uncommon among children, the rate of herpes zoster in U.S. children has been declining since the routine varicella vaccination program started. Varicella vaccine contains live attenuated VZV, which causes latent infection.
- Children who have been vaccinated against varicella have lower rates of herpes zoster compared to children who had natural infection with varicella. The reason for this is that vaccinated children are less likely to become infected with wild-type VZV, and the risk of reactivation of vaccine-strain VZV appears lower compared with reactivation of wild-type VZV.
- The number of older adults who have received varicella vaccine since it was licensed in 1995 is quite small. There is very little information on the risk of herpes zoster in people who got varicella vaccine as adults.
CDC continues to study the epidemiology of herpes zoster among adults and children and to monitor the effects of the U.S. varicella and herpes zoster vaccination programs.