If I've Had Chickenpox, Can I Still Get Shingles?

If you had chickenpox, you probably remember just how itchy those little red bumps were. Perhaps you recall staying home from school or soaking in an oatmeal bath to help soothe your skin. 

Once you’ve had chickenpox, you won’t get it again. But many people don’t know that after you’ve had chickenpox, another skin-related infection called shingles can appear later in life. In fact, about one million Americans get shingles every year.

Louis J. Raso, MD, PA and the rest of our team treat patients with shingles here at our office in Jupiter, Florida. We explain more about shingles including who is at risk of developing it.

Understanding shingles

Shingles is a virus that usually comes in the form of a painful rash, often along your torso. Most people experience pain as the first symptom, and then days later notice a band of blister-like lesions. Although it’s uncomfortable, shingles is usually not a life-threatening condition. 

Chickenpox and shingles come from the same virus -- the varicella zoster virus. Because of this, only people who’ve had chickenpox can get shingles. The virus stays dormant in your body, residing in your spinal cord and brain, and can reactivate years later.

Shingles is contagious, so you can only pass the virus to someone else if they aren’t immune to chickenpox. If it’s passed on to another person, the virus will appear as chickenpox rather than shingles.  

What to look for

Most of the time, shingles only affects a small area of your body. However, a rash isn’t the only symptom of shingles. Other symptoms include:

Who’s at risk?

Anyone who's had chickenpox has the risk of developing shingles. If you’re over 50, you have a greater risk because the likelihood increases with age. Those living with diseases like HIV or cancer have a higher risk of getting shingles due to their weaker immune systems. 

Certain medications, like those that contain steroids, may also trigger shingles. 

Treatment and prevention

Shingles goes away on its own but generally affects people for 3-5 weeks. Although there is no cure for shingles, Dr. Raso can help you manage the condition with pain medications or a cortisone injection. 

You can also help prevent shingles by getting a vaccine. There are two options available, ZostavaxⓇ and ShingrixⓇ. The preferred vaccine, Shingrix, is a two-dose vaccination designed to prevent shingles for up to five years.

If you’re struggling with the pain of shingles, we can help you manage the condition. Call us today at 561-264-2929 or use our online scheduler to make an appointment. 

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