Shingles is a painful rash that is caused by the same virus (varicella zoster virus) that causes chickenpox. It usually develops on one side of the body – often on the face or torso. It consists of blisters that typically scab over in seven to 10 days, and it clears up in two to four weeks. Some people describe the pain as an intense burning sensation. For some people, the pain can last for months or longer after the rash goes away. This long-lasting pain is called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), and it is the most common shingles complication. A patient’s risk of getting shingles and PHN increases as they get older.
Anyone who has had chickenpox may develop shingles, including children. A patient’s risk of shingles increases with age. About half of all shingles cases occur in adults who are 60 or older.
Shingles can include the following symptoms…
– Burning, tingling, or numbness of the skin
– Feeling sick, including chills, fever, upset stomach and headaches
– Fluid-filled blisters
– Skin that is sensitive to the touch
– Mild itching to strong pain
The CDC recommends that patients who are 50 or older get the new shingles vaccine, which is called Shingrix. It provides strong protection from shingles and long-term nerve pain. A patient should get Shingrix even if they have already had shingles because they can get the disease more than once. A patient needs to get two doses of Shingrix – the second one two to six months after the first.
The CDC also recommends that patients who got the Zostavax vaccine still get two doses of Shingrix. Zostavax is a shingles vaccine that is used in certain cases (e.g., the patient is allergic to Shingrix) when the patient is healthy and 60 or older.
Patients should talk to their physician if they have questions about shingles or the shingles vaccines.
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