Shingles is an itchy and sometimes painful rash that occurs on one side of the body.  It starts with a tingling sensation on the skin and a general unwell feeling.  Occasionally symptoms become worse and can cause severe pain and burning at the rash site.  If the rash occurs on the face, it can cause brain swelling or vision loss.  The chicken pox virus is the cause of shingles. Anyone who has ever had chicken pox is at risk for developing shingles and the risk increases as we age.  The chicken pox virus remains dormant for many years inside nerve tissue and then travels down the nerve to create the skin rash.  Some people suffer a great deal of pain from the nerve that is being affected – even after the rash is gone.  This is called post herpetic neuralgia and can be so severe, even clothes touching the shingles site can cause pain. In 2017 the FDA approved Shingrix, a 2-shot vaccine (separated by 2-6 months) for adults to prevent shingles.  The vaccine Zostavax, released in 2006, is no longer available as of November 2020.  If you have previously received the Zostavax, you are no longer considered immune to shingles and should get the Shingrix Vaccine. Shingrix is available to those patients 50 and older.  The only contraindications are allergy to ingredients, pregnancy, and breast-feeding.  Shingrix has been shown to be >85% effective at preventing shingles, even 4 years after receiving the vaccine (current CDC data). It is not the same vaccine given to children to prevent chicken pox.  If you would like to be vaccinated, please speak to your local medical provider.  If you have already had shingles, the vaccine may still be helpful. 

Share This Story!