The shingles vaccine has been well-accepted by older adults—most likely because so many people are familiar with the misery that the itching, burning rash causes. Now there is a new vaccine against shingles, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending it for most healthy adults over age 50. As Ob/Gyns we also focus on women’s preventive health. We welcome your questions about this and other preventive health issues. Here is a list of common FAQs about protecting yourself against shingles.
What is Shingles (herpes zoster)?
Shingles is a painful rash that most often appears on one side of the face or body. It is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox (varicella zoster). Only people who have had chicken pox can develop shingles, but that is 99% of the population. You have probably had chicken pox whether you remember it or not. The chicken pox virus remains inactive in the body. Sometime later, it can re-activate to cause shingles.
Besides being very painful, shingles can cause some serious complications. The most common complication is post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). People with PHN will have severe pain in the area of the shingles outbreak that lasts for weeks, or even months or years, after the rash has disappeared. About 10 to 13% of people who have shingles will develop PHN. Read more