McFarland Clinic

Fast Facts: Shingles

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April 6, 2012

  • Shingles is a painful skin rash that appears in a band somewhere on your body or face
  • The virus that causes shingles is the same virus that leads to chickenpox, called the varicella-zoster virus
  • After being exposed to the virus, either through exposure to someone with chickenpox or by receiving the chickenpox vaccine, the virus lies dormant in the body until it is activated again and causes shingles
  • The dormant virus can become active again when the body’s immune system is weakened by another illness, long-term steroid use, or physiological stress
  • Shingles is not contagious in the sense that you can spread shingles to someone else, but you can give someone chicken pox if they’ve never been exposed to the virus before
  • Shingles is much more likely to occur in individuals over the age of 60 – 1 in 3 Americans will develop shingles within their lifetime
  • You can develop shingles more than one time in your life
  • Complications from shingles can include skin infection; inflammation of the ear or eye; and post-herpetic neuralgia, which is pain, headaches, and/or nerve problems that can continue long after the skin rash has gone away – sometimes lasting years
  • A vaccine is recommended for individuals over age 60 – it has been shown to reduce the chances of developing shingles and also to reduce the chance of getting shingles again if someone has already had it
 

The above fast facts were provided by McFarland Clinic’s Infectious Diseases physician, Dr. Ricardo Arbulu, at a recent Prime Time Alive presentation with Mary Greeley Medical Center. Check out McFarland’s article on shingles from our online health library for more information!

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