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Welcome to the Shingles Page



    1. What is Shingles?

Shingles, or herpes zoster, is caused by the chickenpox virus that remains in the nerve roots of all persons who had chickenpox and can come out in your body again years later to cause illness. 


Shingles is more common after the age of 50 and the risk increases with advancing age. Shingles causes numbness, itching or severe pain followed by clusters of blister-like lesions in a strip-like pattern on one side of your body. The pain can persist for weeks, months or years after the rash heals and is then known as post-herpetic neuralgia.

  1. Is shingles contagious?

Yes, people with shingles are contagious to persons who have not had chickenpox. Therefore, people who have not had chickenpox can catch chickenpox if they have close contact with a person who has shingles. However, you can not catch shingles itself from someone else. Shingles is caused by the chickenpox virus which has been dormant (staying quiet) in your body ever since you had chickenpox. So, you get shingles from your own chickenpox virus, not from someone else.

  1. What should I do if I get shingles?

Contact your health care provider as soon as possible to discuss treatment with antiviral medications. These medications are most effective if given as soon as possible after rash onset.

  1. Can someone who has been vaccinated for chickenpox develop shingles?

Yes. However, a study conducted among children with leukemia determined that after receiving the vaccine these children were much less likely to develop shingles than children who had prior natural chickenpox. Available information from healthy children and adults suggest that shingles is less common in vaccinated healthy persons compared with persons who have had natural chickenpox.

  1. Is there a vaccine available to prevent or modify shingles?

No; however, a study is currently underway with a new formulation of the chickenpox vaccine to determine whether vaccination of persons older than 55 years of age will reduce the frequency and/or severity of shingles in adults. Results from this study will be available in about 5 years.

Source Public Domain National Immunization Program

For your convenience, we have prepared  a list of search terms used in order of popularity, to find more pages on this subject:

Searches completed in December 2004 

Count Search Term 

759 shingles herpes 
713 herpes zoster shingles 
63   shingles herpes virus 
38   herpes picture shingles zoster 
31   genital herpes shingles 
26   herpes picture shingles 

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© Anthony George 2005