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What Are The Odds Of Getting Shingles

What Is The Outlook For People With Recurring Shingles

COVID-19 increases your chance for getting Shingles, doctors strongly advise both vaccines

Shingles usually clears up within two to six weeks.

In a small number of cases, the pain can remain once the rash has healed. This is called postherpetic neuralgia . Up to 2 percent of people who get shingles have PHN for five years or more. The risk increases with age.

Recurring shingles isnt preventable. You can reduce your risk by getting the shingles vaccine, even after youve had shingles.

A showed that people who had the shingles vaccine had 51 percent fewer cases of shingles. For people 50-59 years old, the shingles vaccine reduced the risk of shingles by 69.8 percent.

People who received the shingles vaccine generally had less severe cases of shingles. They also had

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.

Shingles Early Treatment And Prevention

There is no cure for shingles. However, if administered within 72 hours of a shingles diagnosis, antiviral medications can help to shorten the length of the illness and reduce its effects.

Shingles is a vaccine-preventable disease. It is recommended that people who have a higher risk of shingles get two doses of Shingrix . The shingles vaccine works to prevent both shingles and related complications like PHN.

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When To Seek Medical Advice

Shingles is not usually serious, but you should see your GP as soon as possible if you recognise the symptoms. Early treatment may help reduce the severity of your symptoms and the risk of developing complications.

You should also see your GP if you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system and you think you have been exposed to someone with chickenpox or shingles and haven’t had chickenpox before.

Vaccinate To Decrease Your Shingles Risk

Be Aware

Your chances of getting shingles increase as you get older. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults age 50 and older get vaccinated against shingles.

Two vaccines, recombinant zoster vaccine and zoster vaccine live are available in the United States to prevent shingles. Shingrix is the preferred vaccine.

The CDC recommends Shingrix for adults 50 years and older, whether or not they have already had shingles or previously received the Zostavaxvaccine, which has been used since 2006. You should get two doses of Shingrix, two to six months apart. Two doses of Shingrix are more than 90% effective at preventing shingles. Shingrix is also 90% effective in helping to prevent PHN in those who get shingles despite being vaccinated.

While Zostavax is still available, studies show it is less effective than Shingrix.Zostavax may be used in some healthy adults 60 years and older, for example, in those who are allergic to Shingrix.

There is no specific time that you must wait after having shingles before receiving the shingles vaccine. But its probably best to hold off until the shingles rash has disappeared before getting vaccinated.

About the Author

Urmila Parlikar, Associate Director, Digital Health Products, Harvard Health Publishing

Read Also: What Is Shingles And How Do You Get It

Shingles Virus Can Sleep Reactivate

Shingles is caused by the same virus the varicella zoster virus that causes chickenpox. Once you have had chickenpox, the virus that caused it remains inside your nerves. It is inactive, but it can be reactivated later in life. This causes shingles.

When the virus reactivates, the infected nerves, and the skin the nerves go to, become inflamed, causing a burning or stabbing pain. A few days later, when the virus reaches the skin, a rash of blisters appear along the affected nerve. The skin may be very sensitive, unable to tolerate even the lightest touch.

About 1 in 10 adults who get shingles experience long-term pain, even after the rash has healed completely. This condition is called post-herpetic neuralgia . It may last for months, or even years. And it can be debilitating.

After causing shingles, the virus again goes “back to sleep” inside your nerves. But it can still flare up again.

What Are The Mortality Rates For Shingles

Shingles-related deaths are relatively rare. However, herpes zoster can sometimes lead to death among older adults and people whose immune systems are weakened by immunosuppressant drugs or infections like human immunodeficiency virus .

Heres what you need to know about shingles mortality rates and hospitalization:

  • In the United States, shingles causes fewer than 100 deaths each year.
  • Shingles death rates are approximately 10 times higher among people over 65 years old.
  • Rarely, immunocompromised people with shingles develop viscerally disseminated VZV, which spreads to the major organs and can be deadly.
  • Between 1 in 25 and 1 in 100 people who develop shingles have to be hospitalized.
  • About 1 in 3 people who are hospitalized for shingles are immunocompromised.

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Preventing The Virus Spreading

If you have the shingles rash, do not share towels or flannels, go swimming, or play contact sports. This will help prevent the virus being passed on to someone who has not had chickenpox.

You should also avoid work or school if your rash is weeping and cannot be covered.

Chickenpox can be particularly dangerous for certain groups of people. If you have shingles, avoid:

  • women who are pregnant and have not had chickenpox before as they could catch it from you, which may harm their unborn baby
  • people who have a weak immune system, such as someone with HIV or AIDS
  • babies less than one month old, unless it is your own baby, in which case your baby should have antibodies to protect them from the virus

Once your blisters have dried and scabbed over, you are no longer contagious and will not need to avoid anyone.

How Is Postherpetic Neuralgia Treated

Can shingles come back more than once?

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 Long Does A Shingles Outbreak Last

It can take three to five weeks from the time you begin to feel symptoms until the rash totally disappears.

  • First, a few days before the rash appears, you may feel pain in an area on your skin. The pain is described as itching, burning, stabbing or shooting. This usually happens before the rash comes.
  • Next, the raised rash appears as a band or a patch, usually on one side of your body. The rash usually appears around your waistline or on one side of your face, neck, or on the trunk , but not always. It can occur in other areas including your arms and legs.
  • Within three to four days, the rash develops into red, fluid-filled, painful, open blisters.
  • Usually, these blisters begin to dry out and crust over within about 10 days.
  • The scabs clear up about two to three weeks later.
  • 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.

    Read Also: What’s The First Sign Of Shingles

    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.

    Plus Why It’s Important To Get The Shingles Vaccineeven If You’ve Had Shingles Before

    Treat Shingles Naturally at Home

    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.

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    The Risk Of Shingles For People In Their 20s 30s And 40s

    In 1995, the chickenpox vaccine became available in the U.S. for children ages 12 months and older. This means that people born before then could have gotten chickenpox as children or might not remember if they were vaccinated.

    “This is probably why we occasionally see shingles cases in younger patients,” Dr. Thomassian says. “If you were born in the ’70s or early ’80s, presumably you had chickenpox when you were younger and it wouldn’t be much of a shock if you got shingles.

    “But I’ve also had patients born in the late ’80s and early ’90s who contracted shingles and we ask them, ‘Do you know if you’ve been vaccinated?’ Some of them know they were not vaccinatedsome of them don’t know if they had chickenpox or not.”

    Know Your Risk Of Getting Shingles And Complications

    About 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles during their lifetime.

    If youve had chickenpox, you are at risk for shingles. More than 99% of Americans born before 1980 have had chickenpox, even if they dont remember it.

    Your risk of getting shingles and having serious complications increases as you get older.

    About 1 in 10 people who get shingles develop nerve pain that lasts for months or years after the rash goes away. This is called postherpetic neuralgia and is the most common complication of shingles.

    Shingles may lead to other serious complications involving the eye, including blindness. Very rarely, it can also lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, brain inflammation or death.

    Read Also: What Do Shingles Look Like When They First Start Out

    Why Doesnt Having Chickenpox Earlier In Life Provide Immunity Against Having Shingles Later

    After having chickenpox, your body doesnt rid your system of the virus. Instead, the virus stays in a portion of the spinal nerve root called the dorsal root ganglion. In most people, the virus simply stays there quietly and doesnt cause problems. Scientists arent always sure why the virus gets active again, but they know stress can be a cause.

    Is Treating Relapse The Same

    Should you get two types of shingles shots? | ABC7

    The approaches to treating shingles and any relapse are the same. In the latter case, healthcare providers may become particularly interested in isolating the cause of the weakened immunity thats causing the recurrence. That said, there is no outright cure for this disease, so treatment focuses on managing symptoms.

    These approaches include:

    • Antiviral medications, such as Zovirax , Famvir , and Valtrex , can help, especially if given within 72 hours of symptom onset.
    • Over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol or Motrin or Advil can also help manage discomfort and pain.
    • Compresses and creams are among other approaches that help relieve itching these include applying wet compresses, using calamine lotion, and taking colloidal oatmeal baths.

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    Shingles Vaccine Reduces Your Risk Of Getting Shingles

    While there is no cure for shingles, getting the shingles vaccine can greatly reduce your risk of getting this disease.

    Shingles vaccine reduces risk

    The CDC recommends the shingles vaccine for healthy adults who are 50 years of age or older.

    If you think you may already have shingles, treatment is important. It can reduce your pain and how long the rash lasts.

    Find out how dermatologists diagnose and treat this condition at, Shingles: Diagnosis and treatment.

    3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Prevent Shingles: Get vaccinated. Page last reviewed July 23, 2018. Last accessed March 28, 2019.

    ImageGetty Images

    ReferencesCenters for Disease Control and Prevention . Prevent Shingles: Get vaccinated. Page last reviewed July 23, 2018. Last accessed March 28, 2019.

    Dooling KL, Guo A, et al. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for Use of Herpes Zoster Vaccines. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018 67:103-8.

    Risk Factor: Certain Cancers

    Cancer cells may compete with healthy cells that are meant to fight infections, according to the American Cancer Society . Thats why having cancer and undergoing cancer treatments are another risk factor for shingles, says Dr. Wald. While any cancer may increase shingles risk, blood cancers like leukemia and lymphoma make you especially susceptible, tripling your risk compared with people without cancer, finds a study in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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    Symptoms Of Pediatric Shingles

    Your child may experience discomfort like itching, tingling, or pain on some part of the body or face as the first sign of shingles. The discomfort may be in a band across one side of the trunk, including the stomach, chest, back, or buttocks. The sensation can range in intensity from

    for shingles. Treatment is about making the child comfortable and possibly shortening the course and severity of the infection.

    There are several antiviral medications available that may help if taken within 24 hours to 3 days of symptom onset. Antiviral medications can help shorten the overall course of shingles and reduce the level of pain. The key here is to get the medication as soon as possible. More research is needed to determine if taking antivirals 72 hours after onset is useful.

    Depending on your childs age, your pediatrician may also suggest using over-the-counter pain or prescription pain medications to ease nerve pain.

    When Should I Get The Shingles Vaccine

    Shingles Vaccine: What You Should Know

    The current shingles vaccine is a safe, easy, and more effective way to prevent shingles than the previous vaccine. In fact, it is over 90% effective at preventing shingles. Most adults age 50 and older should get vaccinated with the shingles vaccine, which is given in two doses. You can get the shingles vaccine at your doctors office and at some pharmacies.

    You should get the shingles vaccine if you:

    • Have already had chickenpox, the chickenpox vaccine, or shingles
    • Received the prior shingles vaccine called Zostavax
    • Dont remember having had chickenpox

    Medicare Part D and private health insurance plans may cover some or all of the cost. Check with Medicare or your health plan to find out if it is covered.

    You should not get vaccinated if you:

    • Currently have shingles
    • Are sick or have a fever
    • Had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of the shingles vaccine

    If you are unsure about the above criteria or have other health concerns, talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine.

    Read Also: What Does Shingles Start Out Looking Like

    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.

    librakv / Getty Images

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