Shingles, also known as zoster or herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you’ve had chickenpox, you are at risk of getting shingles.
- One out of every three people 60 years old or older will get shingles.
- One out of six people older than 60 years who get shingles will have severe pain. The pain can last for months or even years.
- The most common complication of shingles is severe pain where the shingles rash was. This pain can be debilitating. There is no treatment or cure from this pain. As people get older, they are more likely to develop long-term pain as a complication of shingles and the pain is likely to be more severe.
- Shingles may also lead to serious complications involving the eye. Very rarely, shingles can also lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation (encephalitis), or death.
Protect Yourself Against Shingles
Adults 60 years old or older should talk to their healthcare professional about getting a one-time dose of the shingles vaccine.
- The shingles vaccine can reduce your risk of shingles and the long-term pain it can cause.
- Persons who have already had shingles or who have a chronic medical condition can receive the shingles vaccine.
- In a clinical trial involving thousands of adults 60 years old or older, the vaccine reduced the risk of shingles by about half.
Even if the shingles vaccine doesn’t prevent you from getting shingles, it can still reduce the chance of having long-term pain. Talk with your healthcare professional for more information and to find out if the shingles vaccine is right for you.