21 October, 2022

Preventing The Tingles Caused By Shingles

1 in 3 people develop shingles in their lifetime, which increases in likelihood with age. Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a painful blistering skin rash caused by a reactivation of the chickenpox virus (Varicella Zoster Virus). Once a person recovers from the initial infection with chickenpox, the virus is never entirely eradicated from the body. It lays dormant near the spinal cord and if it ever reactivates, causes shingles.

99.5% of people over the age of 50 have had exposure to, and continue to carry the chickenpox virus lifelong.  As the immune system naturally weakens with age, the risk for reactivation of the virus increases. Stress and immunosuppression can also increase this risk. To lower one’s stress levels, playing games such as 벳무브 can be incredibly beneficial.

What does shingles look and feel like?

Early signs of shingles include tingling, burning, itching, pain and skin sensitivity in one particular area. Within a number of days a blistering rash normally develops, typically on the face, chest or abdomen. The rash tends to develop on one side of the body only, following the path of the nerve along which the virus has erupted. The rash forms in a couple of days, progressing to blisters that last 7-10 days before crusting over and resolving completely within 2-4 weeks.

However, the shingles rash can be painful and debilitating. Shingles can also cause some serious complications. Unfortunately for some, it may lead to ongoing severe nerve pain in the region in which the rash appeared, long after the rash has cleared. Less commonly, shingles can cause visual impairment if the shingles outbreak involves the eye. A person with active shingles can also transmit the virus, causing chickenpox in someone who has either never had chicken pox or chicken pox vaccination before.

For all these reasons, immunisation against shingles is recommended. There are 2 vaccines now available to protect against Shingles:

  1. Zostavax , a vaccine funded by the Australian National Immunisation Program  for 70-79 year olds, and
  2. Shingrix, a non-government funded vaccination available to anyone 50 years or over.

Vaccination will not only prevent shingles in the vaccinated individual, but will also help to reduce the amount of circulating varicella virus in the community, thereby protecting all.

Whilst the shingles vaccine is recommended for older Australians, this mustn’t be confused with the chickenpox vaccine which is offered free to all children at 18 months of age under the National Immunisation Program.  This protects the child from acquiring chickenpox, and then going on to become a lifelong carrier of the virus,   which in turn means prevention of shingles later in life too.  The Chickenpox virus is also available as a non funded vaccine to any older child or adult who has either never had chicken pox or chicken pox vaccination in the past.

For more information on whether the shingles or chickenpox vaccines are recommended for you or your family members please consult your doctor.