Myths and Facts About Shingles

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Shingles is a painful rash that’s caused by the same virus as chickenpox. It’s a common condition, but it’s also misunderstood. Learn the truth behind shingles myths and find out how to prevent shingles.

Shingles is a common viral infection that causes painful skin rashes. About one in three people gets shingles in their lifetime.

Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus. Since varicella zoster is the same virus that causes chickenpox, there are a lot of misconceptions about shingles — from shingles symptoms and complications to who’s at risk of getting the infection.

At Interventional Pain Management AssociatesMaher Ibrahim, MD, and our team are here to help. We educate our patients about shingles and provide comprehensive care for shingles and a painful complication: postherpetic neuralgia.

Read on to learn more about shingles facts versus fiction.

Myth: If you’ve had chickenpox, shingles is inevitable

The varicella zoster causes both chickenpox and shingles. If you get chickenpox, the virus goes dormant in your body after you recover — but it can reactivate and cause shingles later in life. Since shingles is so common, you might assume that getting it is only a matter of time if you already had chickenpox.

Fact: Vaccination can prevent shingles

Anyone who’s had chickenpox can get shingles, but vaccination can help you avoid it. In fact, the current shingles vaccine is over 90% effective at preventing shingles, whether you’ve had chickenpox or not.

Most people over age 50 should get the shingles vaccine, so talk to Dr. Ibrahim and our team to find out if it’s recommended for you.

Myth: Young people don’t get shingles

About half of people that get shingles are over age 60. Your risk of getting shingles goes up as you get older, so it’s easy to assume that younger people don’t get it.

Fact: You can get shingles at any age

The other half of all shingles cases occur among people younger than 60, and that includes children. You can get shingles at any point after recovering from chickenpox.

Your risk of shingles is higher if you have a weakened immune system, no matter your age. It’s also possible to get shingles if you come in contact with someone else’s shingles rash during the blistering stage, when they are still contagious.

Myth: Shingles is just a rash

Shingles rashes usually look like a stripe that wraps one side of your torso. It’s true that the main symptom of shingles is a rash, but unfortunately, it’s not the only symptom.

Fact: The shingles rash is just one symptom

Shingles typically starts with pain or burning sensations. Your skin may also be sensitive to the touch. After several days, a red, blistering rash begins to appear. The rash is painful and itchy, and it can last about a month.

Having shingles also increases your risk of more serious complications. About 40% of people who get shingles continue experiencing pain and sensitivity. This condition is called postherpetic neuralgia, and it may last months to years after the rash heals.

Both shingles and postherpetic neuralgia cause pain and discomfort. Whether you’re trying to avoid shingles or you’re looking for treatment, turn to our team at Interventional Pain Management Associates in Hamilton, New Jersey.

Call us at 609-757-9860 or request an appointment online today.