More Common Side Effects
The more common side effects of Shingrix can include:
- pain, redness, and swelling at site of injection*
- dizziness or fainting
- flu-like symptoms, including fever, shivering, and tiredness
Most of these side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If theyre more severe or dont go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
* For more information about this side effect, see Side effect details below.
How Is Shingles Diagnosed
As with most other diseases, doctors will typically review your symptoms first. Be sure to take note of how long youve experienced symptoms, what your exact symptoms are, and their severity. Doctors may suspect internal shingles if your symptoms involve more than your skin. They will often suspect eye or nervous system involvement based on the location of the shingles rash. However, if you have a painful rash along with a cough, severe headache, or abdominal pain, you may have a more serious complication of shingles.
Doctors may perform the following tests to confirm your diagnosis of shingles:
- direct fluorescence antibody stain
How Long Do Shingles Last
The good news is, that shingles don’t last forever. Most cases clear up within 2 to 4 weeks.
However, some people do develop a chronic pain condition called post-herpetic neuralgia . The Mayo Clinic explains that PHN is actually the most common complication of shingles, though based on my experience and others I’ve talked to, it’s not often discussed when patients are diagnosed.
Some people even get shingles more than once.
Other people may get early shingles symptoms, like pain or numbness, but never develop a rash. Lucky them.
Taking an anti-viral medication, which a doctor prescribes, can reduce symptoms and cut the duration of the disease, too. Catching it early and getting treatment is key to making your shingles experience less awful.
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Is Stress A Risk Factor For Shingles
You may have heard that someone got shingles because they were stressed, perhaps after the death of a relative, soon after a divorce, or at the end of a difficult semester at school.
Clinical Infectious Diseases
Theres some controversy about the matter, says Safdieh. We know for a fact that stress can have an impact on the function of the immune system. If theres stress, immunity is depressed, and I certainly see patients who tell me they were having a lot of stress when they got shingles. But, he adds, there are many people who are stressed and dont get shingles, and many people who get them while theyre on vacation.
If there is a link between stress and shingles, its probably not that the stress itself is putting a strain on the immune system it may be that stress creates conditions that lower immunity. Keep in mind, says Safdieh, that when youre stressed, you dont sleep and you dont eat, and all these factors can play a role.
When To Contact A Doctor
Its important to visit your doctor as soon as possible if you suspect you have shingles, especially if youre somebody at an increased risk of developing it.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends visiting a dermatologist or other healthcare professional within 3 days to prevent long-term complications.
Shingles typically clears up within a few weeks and does not commonly recur. If your symptoms have not lessened within 10 days, contact a doctor for a follow-up and reevaluation.
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Benefits Of Shingles Vaccination
Shingles vaccination significantly reduces your risk of developing shingles. Vaccination of older adults reduces the number of shingles cases in that population by about half, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Adults who get shingles despite vaccination typically get a much milder case than unvaccinated adults. Vaccination also greatly reduces an individuals risk of shingles complications, including post-herpetic neuralgia or vision loss.
Studies have found that the Shingrix vaccine is 97% effective in preventing shingles in adults ages 50 to 69 and 91% effective in adults ages 70 and older. The vaccine is 91% effective in preventing PHN in adults ages 50 to 69 and 89% effective in preventing this complication in adults ages 70 and older.
The Shingrix vaccine does not contain any live virus, so you cannot contract shingles from vaccination.
How Long Does Shingles Last
Most cases of shingles last three to five weeks.
- The first sign is often burning or tingling pain sometimes it includes numbness or itching on one side of the body.
- Somewhere between one and five days after the tingling or burning feeling on the skin, a red rash will appear.
- A few days later, the rash will turn into fluid-filled blisters.
- About one week to 10 days after that, the blisters dry up and crust over.
- A couple of weeks later, the scabs clear up.
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Can The Shingles Shot Cause Guillain
Though rare, but Guillain-Barré syndrome can occur with both the shingles vaccine and the shingles virus itself.
Symptoms of this serious autoimmune disorder include a loss of sensation and muscle paralysis that tends to come on quickly, typically spreading up from your lower extremities.
It can be life-threatening, so contact a healthcare provider immediately if you think you may have symptoms.
Treatments For Other Problems Caused By Shingles
In some cases, shingles causes long-term problems. Treatment depends on what the problem is.
- Disseminated zoster. This is a blistery rash over a large portion of the body. It may affect the heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, joints, and intestinal tract. Treatment is done in the hospital. It may include antiviral medicines to prevent the virus from multiplying and antibiotics to stop infection.
- Herpes zoster ophthalmicus. This is a rash on the forehead, cheek, nose, and around one eye. It could threaten your sight. Get treatment from an ophthalmologist right away. Treatment may include antiviral medicines and steroid eye drops.
- If the shingles virus affects the nerves that begin in the brain , serious problems involving the face, eyes, nose, and brain can occur. Treatment depends on what the problem is and where it is.
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What Are Shingles And What Causes Shingles To Develop
First, let’s get the technical stuff out of the way.
According to WebMD, if you’ve had chickenpox in the past, this little virus can hang out in your body for years. It’s painful and most often will develop a painful, itchy, blistery rash.
WebMD explains that “shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you’ve had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles.”
1 in 3 people will develop shingles in their lifetimes, and while it’s more common to have it when you’re over 60 years old, WebMD reports that more and more younger people are developing shingles. In fact, all age groups seem to have increasing rates of shingles.
You’re also more likely to develop shingles if you have a depleted immune system due to conditions like AIDS/HIV or cancer, or if you’re taking medications that affect your ability to fight infections.
Stress can also increase your risk of shingles.
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When they tell you that shingles make you depressed, they don’t tell you that shingles make you depressed because you are afraid to leave your house and because your face doesn’t look like your face, and you’re worried never will again.
On the first day my blisters seemed to be healing I took a deep breath and went for a walk. I needed it. Shingles are contagious, so doctors suggest that you stay home and away from people until your blisters “crust over” which is a really disgusting way of saying “form a scab”. The fluid inside the blisters is what is contagious, and people who have no immunity to the varicella-zoster virus like if they haven’t had chickenpox or haven’t been fully vaccinated against varicella can get sick if they come into contact with it.
So, you know, wash your hands a lot, keep your blisters covered if you’re around people who may be vulnerable, and don’t touch your rash. Considering how much it hurts, this likely won’t be that much of a challenge.
The pain was my constant companion which made me feel very melodramatic and like a Brontë character. I made it to the local garden center and nursery without incident. I needed to look at something fresh and vibrant.
Then, as I took off my sunglasses to inspect a potted plant, I heard a kid ask his mom. “What happened to her eye, mama? What’s wrong with her eye?”
He considered this as his mom squirmed. “Do you get to stay home?” he asked.
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What Do Shingles Feel Like
To put it simply, shingles hurt and it makes you feel exhausted.
Before I’d felt any shingles symptoms in my skin, I felt an overwhelming sense of fatigue. Not knowing a virus was chilling out in my nerve tissues and preparing to wage war in my body, I put on my gym clothes and walked to the YMCA. I took my usual classes and feigned a grin. Then I went home and “napped” for four hours.
But one morning I woke up and everything was a little different. The right side of my head and neck were in total agony. Yes, classic symptoms of shingles. But I had zero idea. I was just scared.
In my experience, shingles feel like someone boiling pins and them jabbing you with them. It was all I could do not to shriek each time the nearly electrical sensation struck.
I went to the bathroom to splash water on my face and noticed that my right eye was looking a little puffy and felt … well … weird. It was at this point that I, totally rationally , began to assume that I was slowly dying. Not at all an overreaction or anything!
Healthline explains that early on, shingles feel like burning or under your skin. Yep, I can confirm that. But it’s not just that.
“Early symptoms of shingles may include fever and general weakness. You may also feel areas of pain, burning, or a tingling sensation. A few days later, the first signs of a rash appear.” And boy did it.
Here’s a photo of my shingles rash:
Finally, I gave in and called the doctor.
Appearance Of The Shingles Rash
The eruptive stage of shingles begins a few days later. This is when a rash appears.
The skin in the area of the prodromal pain caused by shingles will often be sensitive to the touch and reddish in appearance. As these symptoms get worse, it may begin to feel like a sunburn.
Within three to five days of the initial pain, a few tiny pimple-like spots appear and quickly multiply into clusters, forming a rash that feels prickly to the touch.
From there, sometimes within hours, the pimples develop into water-filled blisters, or vesicles, that then consolidate into larger blisters. Often, redness and swelling accompany the rash.
The shingles rash looks very much like the chickenpox rash, with a key difference: Chickenpox blisters are widely scattered over the entire body. With shingles, the rash almost always occupies a finite strip of skin.
Ultimately, the pain of shingles may get so excruciating that simply grazing the skin with clothing can set off what feels like an electric shock.
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Week Three: More Blisters
If your blisters persist for more than two weeks, this is a red flag that your immune system is not functioning as it should. You should visit your healthcare professional again. And remember, if your blisters appear on your face at any time, quickly see a healthcare professional. Just like the rash, when blisters develop near or in the eye or the ear, it can cause lasting damage, such as hearing loss, blindness, facial paralysis and brain swelling, according to The National Institute on Aging.
When They Start How Long They Last
The shingles vaccine is given in a two-shot series. You may experience side effects after the first, second, or both shots. Most of the time, these symptoms are mild and occur immediately following vaccination. They typically only last for two or three days.
Side effects of the shingles vaccine are more common in younger people, and might interrupt your normal daily activities for a few days.
This may seem like a downside of the shingles vaccine, but remember that these symptoms are a result of the creation of a strong shingles defense within your body.
It is OK to take Tylenol or Advil after a shingles vaccine to relieve symptoms. Rest and plenty of fluids may help, too.
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What Are The Main Causes Of Shingles
If you are currently experiencing a shingles outbreak, its natural to question and want to know what caused it.
Besides the herpes zoster virus being reactivated in your system, other more complicated, less well-known triggers for the virus include:
- the decline in your immune systems response, a natural part of aging
- procedures, such as organ transplants, that require the use of immunosuppressant medication
- autoimmune conditions, such as Crohns disease, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis
- immunosuppressant treatments, such as chemotherapy, corticosteroids, and anti-inflammatory medications
Whether you suspect that you have shingles, COVID-19, or both, seek medical attention immediately if you notice one or more of the following:
- a temperature of 103°F or higher
- difficulty breathing
- skin or lips that are turning pale or bluish
- persistent pain or pressure in your chest
- confusion or feeling disoriented
- a rash near your eye
If you have a compromised immune system, are pregnant, or are over age 65 years, see a doctor right away if you suspect you have COVID-19 orshingles regardless of your specific symptoms.
Shingles is typically treated with antiviral medication. The earlier you get a confirmed diagnosis, the more effective the medication will be at managing your symptoms.
Acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir are antiviral medications that may be prescribed to treat a shingles outbreak.
Other treatments for shingles include:
Dosage For Shingles Prevention
Shingrix is given as two 0.5-mL injections in your upper arm. Youll receive two doses of this vaccine.
Over time, some vaccines protection begins to fade, so may you need booster doses. They help keep the vaccine working. But you dont need a booster dose after getting the two doses of Shingrix.
Shingrix dosing schedule for people ages 50 years and older
For people ages 50 years and older taking Shingrix, the second dose is given 2 to 6 months after the first dose.
Shingrix dosing schedule for people ages 18 years and older with an increased risk of shingles
For people ages 18 years and older with an increased risk of shingles who are taking Shingrix, the second dose may be given 1 to 2 months after the first dose.
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Shingrix And Other Medications
Below are medications that can interact with Shingrix. These are not all the drugs that may interact with Shingrix.
Before taking Shingrix, be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you use. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.
If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Immunosuppressive drugs such as prednisone
Taking Shingrix with drugs that suppress your immune system can cause problems with the way your body responds to Shingrix. Examples of immunosuppressive medications include:
- corticosteroids, such as:
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Shingrix.
Cdc Recommendation For The Shingles Vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend Shingrix as the preferred vaccine to prevent shingles and other complications from the disease.
The CDC found that Shingrix was more effective than Zostavax. It recommends that you receive Shingrix, even if youve had Zostavax in the past.
The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to suit your needs.
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Week Four: Healing Scabs
Most people with shingles do not develop a blister-related infection. Instead, scabs appear once the blisters dry up and crust over. That typically occurs seven to 10 days post-blistery outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its important to remember that until scabs appear, your blisters contain the virus, which can cause others to catch the chickenpox. Its also important to continue to wash the area with a fragrance-free cleanser daily until the rash, blisters and scabs are completely clear. Within a month, your skins appearance will most likely return to normal, though some people are left with darker or lighter spots where the shingles rash occurred.
What Is Shingles And What Are Its Causes
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. The rash can appear anywhere on the body, but is most often found on the torso.
Shingles is a reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Following the chicken pox, the virus lies asleep or dormant in nerve tissue. It never truly goes away though. The virus may awaken as Shingles years later. This occurs especially in times of stress or illness.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Internal Shingles
Many of the risk factors for internal shingles are the same as those for the skin rash of shingles. They include:
- Having a weakened immune system. Diseases and conditions such as HIV/AIDS, organ transplant, and autoimmune conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or inflammatory bowel disease can make you more susceptible to shingles.
- Undergoing cancer treatment. Cancer, along with radiation and chemotherapy, also weaken your immune system and can increase your risk of a herpes zoster infection.
- Being older than 60. Shingles can occur in people of any age. However, its more common in older adults. About half the cases of shingles develop in people over 60 .
- Taking certain medications. Drugs that lower your chance of rejecting an organ transplant or treat autoimmune diseases will increase your risk of shingles. Examples include cyclosporine and tacrolimus . Extended use of steroids will also increase your risk. These medications suppress your immune system, making your body more vulnerable to infection.
Not receiving the shingles vaccine will also increase your chances of getting the condition. Even if you dont remember ever having chickenpox, you should get the shingles vaccine. Studies have shown that 99 percent of people over 40 have had chickenpox. According to the