If you’ve ever had chickenpox, you’re at risk for Shingles. That’s because the virus that causes chickenpox stays in your body throughout your lifetime. Later in life, this virus can reactivate unexpectedly and erupt as Shingles — a red, blistering rash, usually accompanied by deep, penetrating pain. And even if you feel healthy, as you get older, you have a greater chance of developing Shingles.
A Shingles rash usually appears on one side of the face or body and can often be accompanied by fever, headache, chills and upset stomach. The painful rash typically lasts from two to four weeks, although the older you get, the more you’re at risk for long-term nerve pain. Fortunately, you cannot catch Shingles from another person with Shingles. However, if you have never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, you could catch chickenpox from someone who has Shingles. The disease is most common in people 50 years of age and older and those who have weakened immune systems due to diseases such as cancer.
Over one million people each year in the United States get Shingles, and one out of two people who live to age 85 will get Shingles. The best way to protect yourself from this painful rash is to get vaccinated. The vaccine will prevent most people from experiencing a Shingles outbreak, and can reduce the pain in people who still get Shingles after being vaccinated. The vaccine consists of a single dose and is recommended for adults 60 and older. Talk to your SFM provider to find out if the Shingles vaccine is right for you.