I’m sure you’ve all heard that once you get chickenpox you’ll never get it again, and while that’s true if you came down with chickenpox in the past it’s possible that you may eventually find yourself with a case of shingles. Shingles are most common in the elderly but can develop in children and young people if they have had chickenpox. The chickenpox virus stays dormant in your body even after you recover from it, so it is possible that it can resurface in the form of shingles. Shingles, too, never quite goes away after you recover from it, and it’s possible you can come down with it again should the virus become active again.

Some Symptoms of Shingles

  • Blistering rash that is painful, itchy, or tingly
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Upset stomach
  • Possible light sensitivity

The shingles rash appears in stripes on the head, neck, arms, and chest (normally in adjacent areas). In more severe cases, it can appear in more sporadic clusters similar to chickenpox. The rash normally scabs over in a week to ten days, and after this has happened it is no longer infectious. It can take the rash two to four weeks to disappear, though, even after it scabs over. It’s possible for those who haven’t been vaccinated against chickenpox to get the disease if they make direct contact with the shingles rash or any blood that has come from it.

To avoid spreading the rash, it is best to cover it when around other people to minimize the opportunity for others coming in contact with it. You should also avoid itching or touching the rash as it can irritate the rash, and can cause others to possibly contract it if they touch your hands. If you do touch the rash, wash your hands immediately.

Shingles can potentially be dangerous to those with weak or suppressed immune systems, like the elderly, children, or those with chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, or HIV. About 96 deaths occur a year in the United States with shingles as the underlying cause. The best way to keep from getting shingles, or from spreading it, is to simply get vaccinated.  

If you or a loved one comes down with a case of shingles come to your nearest HealthCARE Express as soon as possible. We can provide you with antiviral medications that can help the rash go away, but for them to be effective they need to be started very soon after the rash is noticed.