Shingles is one of the diseases caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person has had chickenpox, the virus may reappear later as shingles. People who have not had chickenpox or have not received the chickenpox vaccine may get chickenpox from someone who has shingles. People with shingles should keep the rash covered, avoid touching or scratching the rash, and wash their hands often to prevent the spread of the virus.
Shingles is a painful rash illness which appears as crops of small blisters. Other symptoms can include fever, headache, chills, and upset stomach. Before the rash develops, itching, tingling or pain may occur in the area. The rash begins with raised reddish bumps which become blisters. It usually appears only on one side of the body. The blisters crust over and fall off after 7 to 10 days. Some people continue to have pain even after the rash is gone.
Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox may develop shingles, including children. It is more common in people 50 years old and older. The risk of getting shingles increases as a person gets older. People with certain conditions that affect the immune system or people on immunosuppressive drugs such as steroids or drugs given after organ transplantation are at a greater risk of developing shingles.
Shingles is not a reportable disease in Oklahoma.
The primary recommendations to prevent shingles is the recombinant zoster vaccine (RZV, Shingrix).
If you believe you are ill with shingles, reach out to your healthcare provider. There are several antiviral medicines available to treat the disease and usually work best when you take them as soon as you notice the rash.
To prevent spread of disease to others avoid touching the rash area. You can also prevent spread by washing sheets and clothing of infected person in hot soapy water daily and washing hands often when around someone with shingles.