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Receipt of Thyroid Hormone Deficiency Treatment and Risk of Herpes Zoster

Over the years, we have seen quite a number of people reporting that they suffered from shingles. Maybe this will be of interest?

Int J Infect Dis. 2017 Apr 24. pii: S1201-9712(17)30127-3. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2017.04.016. [Epub ahead of print]

Receipt of Thyroid Hormone Deficiency Treatment and Risk of Herpes Zoster.

Hsia SV1, Chen LH2, Tseng HF3.

Author information

1 Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy and Health Professions University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, Maryland 21853, USA. Electronic address:

2 Department of Research & Evaluation, Kaiser Permanente Research, 100 S. Los Robles Ave, 2nd Floor, Pasadena, CA 91101.

3 Department of Research & Evaluation, Kaiser Permanente Research, 100 S. Los Robles Ave, 2nd Floor, Pasadena, CA 91101. Electronic address:



Thyroid hormone (TH) has been suggested to control the herpes virus gene expression and replication in neurons via epigenetics through its nuclear receptors. Previously, we showed that hypothyroidism patients were predisposed to herpes zoster (HZ), suggesting that the TH deficiency may be a risk factor of Varicella-Zoster Virus (VZV) reactivation. The aim of this investigation was to test the hypothesis that the TH treatment will ameliorate the complication of HZ.


The present study investigated the hypothesis by enquiring into a comprehensive medical database at Kaiser Permanente Southern California (KPSC) to verify if patients taking thyroid hormone medication would experience reduction of herpes zoster occurrence.


It was shown by a Kaplan-Meier plot that hypothyroidism patients taking TH medicines had a lower risk of HZ. The fully adjusted analysis indicated that patients receiving medication for TH deficiency treatment exhibited a reduced risk of HZ (HR, 0.60; 95% CI, 0.51-0.71). This lower risk of HZ was significant in all age group except the 18-39 years of age cohort. In addition, female patients with TH treatment exhibited a lower risk than the male counterpart.


Together these findings supported the hypothesis that a constant level of TH would provide a layer of protection from contracting HZ. More studies are underway to evaluate the lab data for an analyses of hormonal effects on individuals.

Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


Herpes Zoster; Levothyroxin; Shingles; Varicella Zoster Virus; hypothyroidism

PMID: 28450196

DOI: 10.1016/j.ijid.2017.04.016

Full paper (though it is fairly short), available here:

5 Replies

Interesting both my mother and I had shingles and were later diagnosed with hypothyroidism.

Thanks for this info


I have never had chicken pots. My friends have had shingles but I stayed well away. Both my friend were on treatment for cancer. If the body is overloaded perhaps it's easier for shingles to develop, especially in times of stress.

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Thanks Helvella!

Another good reason to keep our thyroid hormones topped up.

I had chicken pox at 45, & felt so ill, I thought I was going to die. I felt wiped out & still ached all the year after, when I was incorrectly diagnosed with FM. I was certain this was triggered by the virus, & have lived in fear of shingles. The general aches dissipated, when I started taking NDT.


Maybe the findings will help researchers connect the dots to finally understand that a lack of thyroid hormone has a negative and devastating effect on all systems of the body.

It's another finding in the right direction!

Thanks so much for posting.


Before I got treated for Hashimotos, I was extremely ill with shingles without rash. It lasted over a year as my immune system could not fight off the virus. Truly horrendous. I am convinced that the failure to diagnose and treat my Hashimotos directly led to my developing Shingles.

After many months of extreme pain a locum suggested that I might be suffering from shingles and suggested that I should try the anti viral drug acyclovir. Miraculously this medication did the trick and over a period of several months I began to recover. Usually this medication is only prescribed in the first couple of days of shingles but as I had an auto immune disease (Hashimotos) my Dr correctly guessed that I had an ongoing active virus that might be cured by taking a long term course of anti viral meds, even though I was by then several months in to the illness. (My diagnosis was delayed because I did not have the typical rash associated with shingles.)

I believe that my late diagnosis of Hashimotos was instrumental in why I had such a terrible bout of shingles.

(My Dr adopted a "wait and watch " approach when my blood tests showed raised anti bodies. In total it took over 10 years to get my Hashimotos diagnosed and treated. In the end I self referred to see a consultant in order to get treatment for my Hashimotos.)

Please note..there is a new non-live vaccine for shingles called Shingrix. It should be available in the UK by the end of 2018 .It offers much better rates of protection than the old vaccine and also greatly reduces the risk of long term pain following shingles (known as herpatic neuralgia). It is also a non-live vaccine so I understand that it is also a much better option for people with auto immune diseases such as Hashimotos.

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