All you need to know about Shingles

Chickenpox, Rash, Shingles
Photography by Asher Legg.

A common feeling amongst people with shingles is the feeling of a barbed wire being wrapped around them. Photography by Asher Legg.


Shingles are not only uncomfortable and unsightly but can also be deadly if left untreated. According to National Foundation for Infectious Disease, half of the population who live up to 85 years old has gotten shingles. According to another study, the lifetime risk of Shingles is approximately one-third across the Asia Pacific.


At Healthful, we believe that shingles should be more talked about. We hope that this article can help those who are suffering from shingles, and those who might be at risk of getting shingles.


What are shingles and how is it related to chicken pox?

Shingles can cause a painful rash that can occur in any part of your body. In most cases, it appears as a single stripe of blister that wraps around the left or right torso. Shingles can feel like shooting pain.


What causes shingles? Shingles are caused by a virus known as varicella-zoster, which is also the same virus that causes chickenpox. People who have gotten chicken pox are likely to develop shingles later.


Shingles are caused by the reactivation of the inactive varicella-zoster virus, which is found in the nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. The reactivation is caused by factors such as stress, aging, and a compromised immune system.


If you have gotten chicken pox in your childhood, you might want to pay more attention to the signs of shingles.


Symptoms of Shingles

If you display the following symptoms, you likely have shingles.

  • Blisters with fluid across your body
  • Burning and shooting pain
  • Tingling and itchiness
  • Feeling numb on the skin
  • Headaches
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Upset stomach.

Most cases of shingles last from three to five weeks. If you display any of the following symptoms, please do not take them lightly. Do seek medical attention from a general practitioner (GP) immediately.

Complication of Shingles

According to this study, shingles can increase the likelihood of cardiovascular events such as stroke and myocardial infarction (MI). In addition, a study headed by Sung-Han Kim, Ph.D., from the Department of Infectious Diseases at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, shows that shingles increase the risk of stroke by 35 percent, and the risk of heart attack by 59 percent.


There need to be more studies to find out how exactly shingles caused these cardiovascular events. For now, this is a piece of good information for physicians to know so that they can inform shingles patients about their increased risk of getting heart attack and stroke.


The most common complication of shingles is long-term nerve pain known as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). PHN occurs in the area where your rash was, even after it clears up. In some serious cases, it will cause debilitating pain.


Other complications include pneumonia, hearing problems, brain inflammation (encephalitis), or in rare cases, death. Those who suffer from compromised immune systems or/and are aging are likely to suffer the complication.

Is Shingles transmissible?

If you have shingles, you can pass the virus to another person. The varicella-zoster virus can spread through open and oozing blisters. Those who have never gotten chickenpox might contract the varicella-zoster virus through someone’s open shingles blister. On the other hand, those who have had chickenpox in their childhood usually have antibodies against the virus in their body.


Once the blisters formed scabs, the virus will not spread. If you cover your shingles blister well, you will not spread the virus. Shingles are not transmissible through saliva and nasal secretion of someone who has shingles. In other words, you will not get shingles if someone who has it sneezes or coughs at you.

Is there a cure for Shingles?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for shingles. Most doctors will prescribe antiviral medications and painkillers.

However, here are some ways to soothe your discomfort if you are suffering from shingles. We hope these tips can lessen your pain.


  1. Apply calamine lotion to your rashes.
  2. Wear loose-fitting, natural fibre clothing.
  3. Keep the rashes clean and do not scratch them
  4. Apply cool washcloths to ease the pain, it can help dry the blister as well.
  5. Do not put yourself in a stressful situation, it will aggravate your condition.

Shingles vaccine can help prevent shingles

For now, the only way to prevent shingles is through vaccines. People who are older than 60 years old would benefit from immunity against shingles.


There are 2 types of vaccines available. The recombinant shingles contain the shingles “code” for the body to recognise and obtain immunity from shingles. The live shingles vaccine contains the weakened VZV, it stimulates the immune system but does not cause the disease in healthy people.


Please consult your doctor so that they can recommend the right vaccination for you. The shingles vaccine is administered through injection.


Do not take the shingles vaccine if:

  • You are currently having shingles.
  • You have a severe allergy to the first dose of the vaccine.
  • You are breastfeeding and pregnant.
  • Receive a negative result for the varicella-zoster virus.


The mild side effect of the vaccine includes muscle pain, headache, fever, stomach pain, and nausea. These mild symptoms should last for 2 to 3 days. Some people will experience redness, swelling, and itching. If you experience hives, difficulty in breathing, swelling on the face and irregular heartbeat, this means that you are allergic to the vaccine, please consult a healthcare professional immediately.


Shingles are not only uncomfortable and unsightly, but they can also cause lifelong complications as well. We hope that this article can help you understand more about shingles. If you are feeling extremely uncomfortable due to shingles, we hope that this article can help lessen your pain. For those who are at risk of getting shingles, please consult a healthcare professional and get your vaccine.

Healthful is a digital media publisher and does not offer professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should always consult your doctor when it comes to your personal health or before you start any treatment.

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