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Sarasota Dermatology Blog

Shingles and the Shingles Vaccine

Posted on 01. Mar, 2009 by in Shingles

I’ve had many patients ask me about shingles. How do you get shingles? What are the symptoms? Is there a cure?  As a Dermatologist, I thought I should provide a little information about shingles and let everyone know there is a vaccine available.

What is Shingles?

Shingles, also called Zoster, is caused by the Varisell Zoster Virus. This is the same virus that causes Chickenpox. It is a painful skin rash, often with blisters. The rash usually appears on one side of the body and can last 2 to 4 weeks. Its main symptom is pain, which can be quite severe. Sometimes the pain continues after the rash goes away. This is called post-herpetic neuralgia.

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Once a person has had chickenpox, the virus can live, but remain inactive, in your body. If it becomes active again, usually later in life, it can cause Shingles. There is no way to predict if you’ll get shingles. What’s more, the inactive virus usually has no signs or symptoms. So, Shingles can appear at any time without warning.

Zostavax is the First and Only Vaccine to Help Prevent Shingles. Zostavax is a vaccine that is used for adults 60 years of age or older to prevent Shingles. It works by helping your immune system protect you from getting Shingles, the associated pain and other serious complications. If you do get shingles, even though you have been vaccinated, Zostavax may help prevent the nerve pain that can follow shingles in some people.

  • Anyone 60 years of age or older should consider the vaccination.
  • You should not receive the Shingles Vaccine (Zostavax) if you:
  • Are allergic to gelatin or neomycin
  • Have a disease or condition that causes a weakened immune system
  • Have active TB (tuberculosis) that is not being treated
  • Are pregnant or may be pregnant

Zostavax is given as a single dose injection usually in the upper arm. Common side effects are: redness, pain, tenderness, itching and swelling at the site of injection
Headache

I highly recommend that you ask your Dermatologist whether or not this vaccine is right for you.

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