Risks at a glance

  • Serious complications involving the eye, including vision loss and blindness
  • Pneumonia
  • Hearing problems
  • Encephalitis (brain inflammation)
  • Hospitalisation for pain management
  • Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which causes severe pain in the areas of the shingles rash, even after the rash clears up. The pain from PHN may be severe and debilitating, Some people can have pain from PHN for many years and it can interfere with daily life.
  • Death

About the disease
Shingles is a painful rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. When a person has chickenpox, the virus remains in the body and can ‘reactivate’ years later as shingles. The shingles rash is painful itchy blisters, usually on one side of the body. It can appear on the face, chest, back, stomach or pelvis, and can last for several weeks.

How is it spread
Shingles isn’t really spread because it is the reactivation of the chicken pox virus that has been dormant in the body after chickenpox infection years earlier. If you have not had chickenpox, you can catch it by direct contact with fluid of the blisters of someone who has shingles.

Antiviral medication can help reduce the impact of shingles if given in the first three days from the start of the rash appearing. Over-the-counter medications can be used for pain relief. If over-the-counter medicines do not control the pain, your doctor may prescribe stronger medicines for the pain.

Impact of shingles:
One out of every three people will experience shingles in their lifetime.

There is a shingles vaccine available, but the best prevention for shingles it to never get chicken pox! So, the chickenpox vaccine also prevents shingles. You can’t get shingles if you never had chickenpox.

Click here to read some real life shingles stories.