Shingles is a disease that affects nerves and causes pain and blisters in adults. It is caused by the same varicella-zoster virus (VZV) that causes chickenpox in children. After you recover from chickenpox, the virus does not leave your body, but continues to live in some nerve cells. For reasons that aren't totally understood, the virus can become active instead of remaining inactive. When it's activated in adults, it produces shingles.

Most adults live with the VZV virus in their body and never get shingles. About one in five people who have had chickenpox will get shingles later in life. With shingles, the blisters tend to be clustered in one specific area, rather than scattered all over the body like chickenpox.

There are things that make you more likely to get shingles.

Advanced age. The risk of getting shingles increases as you age. People have a hard time fighting off infections as they get older. The chance of getting shingles becomes much higher by age 70.

Trouble fighting infections. Your immune system is the part of your body that fights off infections. Age can affect your immune system. So can an HIV infection, cancer, cancer drugs, radiation treatments, too much sun, or organ transplant. Even stress or a cold can weaken your immune system for a short time and put you at risk for shingles.

Symptoms of Shingles?

Most people have some of the following symptoms.

Burning, tingling, or numbness of the skin

Feeling sick—chills, fever, upset stomach, or headache

Fluid-filled blisters

Skin that is sensitive to touch

Mild itching to strong pain

Just starting my first bout of shingles this year age or last infection lowering immune system the blisters around my waist are coming up as though they were bulbs in springtime.

37 Replies

  • Thanks for that I am using antihistamine cream with paracetamol tablets for the itching the rash should be clear enough to see by Monday when I will see a doctor better be safe as you say.

  • This will be my third time in five years thanks for thinking of me.

  • Avoiding sunlight should be easy but stress thats something I would do all the time if I could you probably know all about it I will put this here anyhow might be something new.

  • I will watch out for stress and sunshine.

  • There is an injection (vaccine) available now against shingles . Because of the short supply at the moment it is only for certain age groups. Make enquiries at your doctors.

  • 70 yr olds.!!!

  • Advance booking

  • If caught early the Doctor can give a course of anti virus pills, these help as it can become quite painful and takes a while to go away.

    Lets hope you just have a mild dose, I have had then twice the second time I got the pills in early but it still hurt for weeks

  • I hope that I have started early enough this time though last time was worse than the first.

  • I have had shingles twice. The second time worse than the first. I worked in a school and the little ones brought in chickenpox like flowers to the staff! What I didn't know was that one rare side effect can be to paralyse the diaphragm which is what appears to have started my lung/breathing problems although I do have asthma. Six months ago I had an op to bring down the right side of my diaphragm that was paralysed in the up position and stitch it down to enable my lung to expand. I am still on nighttime oxygen but at least I have two lungs now that can expand. The joys of working in a school. I am retired now aged 65 but I never expected my career to end with breathing/lung problems. Thanks to Royal Brompton hospital professors who diagnosed my condition.

  • The strange thing is I bet you miss working with the children that were carrying all kinds of everything.

  • I saw a notice up somewhere that all vaccinations for shingles were cancelled at the moment due to a lack of the vaccine.

    Before that you could have it if aged 70 yrs or 79 yrs ( those 2 yrs only)

  • yes i will not be able too have this vaccine until i am 80 ,because i am 71 i miss out on this years, next year and so forth, i just miss out must be a reason for doing it this way but cant think what the reason is !!

  • You never know Newlands, they did do 79yr olds too, so they nay do 71 & 80 next time !!!

    but at the moment they are not doing anyone as the vaccine has run out I think

  • Yes .but like the doctor said i will then be 72 and i miss out every year until i am 80 daft i call it xxxx

  • I will have to wait until this time is finished before changing the date on my birth certificate.

  • I had it recently, about 2 years ago now, i am 75 so they won't let me have vaccine, you have to be 70 or 79 not any other age at present, they may bring it out for others later if they can fund it.

    i was lucky enough to know from day one what i had from my wife having it, i went straight to doctor and got the anti viral which stopped it very quickly, think i only had a couple of weeks of discomfort which i am glad i got in just at right time for anti viral.

  • I hope catching it early will help me get over it sooner.

  • I had shingles when I was 13 years old the Gp was very surprised and it was painful! All over my chest and back.

  • I had chickenpox at junior school so long ago I dont remember how old I was at the time.

  • Hi Lakeland!

    Harry had shingles,about 18 months ago, he had a very bad attack of them, & it took many weeks to go.He said the pain was terrible.His were concentrated on his chest,& lower abdomen,round to his back.We tried many things to relieve it, but best of all was a capsicum cream,which kind of burnt initially, but then realy relieved it.You can buy it in the chemists here, so i presume you can in the UK.

    Do hope your hubbys dont last to long,Love Wendells xxx

  • I will ask about the capsicum cream thanks for the tip.

  • Hi Lakeland, I too had shingles when my immune system was very low, I had it in L eye ear and throat,Really poorly For 3 weeks each doc gave me different anti biotics Until rushed into hospital Where they found out was shingles, Left me deaf in L ear and nerve pains l side, as it had turned into Ramsey hunt desease, At the time I had mild emphysema, rash was in throat ear and behind eye so a very nasty thing.

  • I am hoping that catching hold of it early will save any complications.

  • Over three years now since encountering the last bout of a dammed annoying condition which remains sensitive localized in the immediate area inhabited by a rash (lower left ribcage around onto lumbar spine).

    Treatment advised Calamine Lotion tossed upon the rash twice daily in a similar manner bestowed on white washed outbuildings though cosmetic appearance was in no part enhanced. My loose cotton clothing ceased limpet like adhesion once daubed a positive boon countered by a dust cloud only equaled by the good lady wife's use of Talcum powder following bathing.

  • me too .... spots erupting over 2 years now !

  • There was no lasting pain after the last time will keep quiet unless my luck changes.

  • Hi there,I "had" shingles the second week of november.It started off with severe pain in the lower abdomen (absolute agony).I was taken into hospital and was diagnosed with a water infection,I had morphine,tramadol and nerve tabs,I was discharged the same day.3 days later I was covered with blisters all down the right side of my body from just below my shoulder blade to my bum,all down the right side of my groin to the knee.Some of the blisters were as big as fifty pence pieces.I was in total agony.I was re-admitted into hospital where I stayed for 5 days with no help from nurses etc.(afraid they would catch it) I had to apply the cream myself or wait till for my husband to apply it where I couldnt reach.The blisters were constantly bursting and my flesh was sticking to my pjs.I ate nothing for more than a week,the pain was so bad.I spent 8 weeks ill in bed,"advance nurses"came to visit regularly.November and December hardly existed.I lost one and half stone,which has bought me down to 6 stone,I still cant eat much,The marks from the shingles look like Ive been burnt,I still have the pain from them though not as bad.I have trouble going to the loo,my skin looks like a dried up chicken.Im just starting to get about,though my right leg feels quite weak.The doctors and nurses all said they had never seen such a bad case.So my friend,dont treat shingles lightly.Oh forgot to say,Im 69yrs young,have copd and brochiectassis.x

  • I wont be taking it lightly each time has been worse than the last.

  • Had a letter from my Doctorsfor Shingles vaxine its new out if you r 70yrs, i could nt have it on steroids have Asma, weening my self down too 1tab @day its a live vaxine. I watch what i eat and have my flu jab keep my emune system ok, do not get a cold, any body any advice for me. Never herd of shingles untill now, do nt know if i had Chicken pox or Measels when i was small, Ann

  • I only take steroidswhen the doctor say I have to that much is not against me.

  • I do believe we fall victim to many more conditions once our health is weakened a premature aging taking a hidden toll once the first signs of slowing down and been left behind by our peer group.

    Until the day aging can be halted all we can do is slow things down with as healthy / active lives our health allows.

  • Now there is an idea I am not seventy yet but with older lungs.

  • I had shingles following a cold last September. Unfortunately my daughter was getting married the day I noticed a "scratch" just under my bra line so I didn't do anything about it.

    Two days later the "scratch" had spread and the pain was very uncomfortable so I went to the Drs. He gave me Acyclovir tablets but because I had delayed in going to the Drs. I suffered severe pain after the blisters went down for a few weeks and had to have Amitryptiline to ease the pain and help me sleep.

    My advice is if in doubt, GO TO THE DRS.

  • I am almost certain that its shingles again and will be at the doctors soon as they open

  • Lakeland, you need to start the antiviral tabs within first few days for them to work, no good if you have it for days before seeing the doctor, has to be straight away to beat it, i was lucky to see a good doctor who then invited a second to back it up and i was going with tablets by day 3 and it worked well for me, racey.

  • Thank you all for your help and concern I have to let it run its course getting treatment soon was important in keeping this a middle of the road case could have been far worse waiting.

    Amitryptiline tablets are making life bearable most of the time some sleep on afternoons because they make me drowsy not complaining only will I be able to sleep night-time.

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