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Shingles

[ˈshiŋ-gəlz]

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Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is a painful rash disease. Shingles can lead to severe nerve pain called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) that can last for months or years after the rash goes away. Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus—the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you’ve ever had chickenpox, you can get shingles. Almost 1 out of 3 people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime. You can get shingles at any age, but it’s more common in older adults. Older adults also are more likely to have severe disease. CDC recommends that people age 50 or older get the new shingles vaccine called Shingrix®.

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Key Facts

  • Shingles and chickenpox are caused by the same virus called varicella zoster virus.
  • An estimated 1 million people get shingles each year in the United States.
  • Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles, and you can get shingles at any age.
  • Your risk of getting shingles and having more severe pain increases as you get older.
  • The shingles vaccine called Shingrix is recommended for people age 50 and older to protect against shingles and the long-term pain that it can cause.

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Prevention Tips

  • People who have previously had shingles or Zostavax should still get Shingrix to help prevent future occurrences of the disease.
  • People who have a weakened immune system should talk to their healthcare provider to see if it is safe for them to get the shingles vaccine.
  • The shingles vaccine is available in pharmacies and doctors’ offices. Talk with your healthcare provider if you have questions about the shingles vaccine.
  • If you have shingles, don’t touch the rash, and keep it covered. Until the rash crusts over, stay away from pregnant women who aren’t protected against chickenpox, premature infants, and people with weakened immune systems.
  • Zostavax® may still be used to prevent shingles in certain cases for healthy adults 60 years and older. For example, you could use Zostavax if a person is allergic to Shingrix, prefers Zostavax, or requests immediate vaccination and Shingrix is unavailable. Learn more about Zostavax.

More at CDC.gov

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