What is shingles? How did it originate?.
Shingles is a common, painful rash that usually occurs on one side of the body or face. Most cases occur in older people, and it is fatal in around 1 in 1,000 cases in people over 75.
It is caused by the same virus as chickenpox, which remains inactive in people who have had the disease and can reactivate years or decades later. Anyone who has had a chickenpox infection is at risk of developing shingles.
What are the symptoms of shingles?
At first you may feel a tingling or painful sensation in an area of skin, and have a headache or feel generally unwell.
The red, blotchy shingles rash will appear a few days later, usually on the chest and tummy on one side of your body, but it can appear on the eyes, face and genitals.
The blotches develop into itchy, oozing blisters, which will dry out and scab a few days later.
Shingles can also cause fever, chills and stomach upset. It can affect your sight or hearing, or make movement in your face difficult.
Shingles usually lasts from two to four weeks. In rare cases, it can lead to complications such as pneumonia or encephalitis.
How is shingles transmitted?
You can’t catch shingles from others. However, someone who has never had chickenpox, or been vaccinated against it, can catch chickenpox from someone with shingles, because shingles is caused by the chickenpox virus.
If you have shingles, you are infectious until the blisters stop oozing fluid. Until then, you should try to avoid people who may be at risk from chickenpox or its complications.
- pregnant women who’ve not had chickenpox
- people with a weak immune system, for example having chemotherapy
- babies younger that 1 month, except your own baby, as they are protected from the virus by your immune system.
What is a shingles certificate?
A shingles certificate proves you have been vaccinated against shingles.
Is shingles curable?
There is no cure for shingles, by symptoms can be treated. Over the counter painkillers such as paracetamol can ease pain. Keep the rash clean and dry to prevent infections and wear loose clothing. A cool compress used a few times a day can help with discomfort. Don’t use antibiotic cream, as this slow healing.
Who should get the shingles vaccine?
The vaccine is available on the NHS to people aged 70 to 80 years. The jab is recommended for older adults who’ve has chickenpox. because they are most at risk of developing the disease. About 1 in 4 people will have shingles at least once in their life.
Who should not get the shingles vaccine?
You shouldn’t get the shingles vaccine if you:
- have a weakened immune system
- have a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose of any of the components of the vaccine
- had a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose of the chickenpox vaccine
- have TB.
What is the effectiveness of the shingles vaccine?
This vaccine doesn’t guarantee 100% protection, but it can reduce pain even if you do get shingles.
What are the side effects of the shingles vaccine?
Side effects are generally mild and short lasting. Common side effects include headache, and pain, redness, swelling, itching, warmth and bruising where the injection is given.
Speak to your GP the side effects last longer than a few days, or if you develop a rash.
How many jabs are needed?
The vaccine is given as a single injection into the upper arm.
How long does it last for?
It’s difficult to be precise, but research suggests the shingles vaccine will protect you for at least 5 years, probably longer.