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Shingles is caused by varicella zoster virus (VZV), which is the same virus that causes chickenpox.

UNDERSTANDING SHINGLES

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When a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant (inactive) in their body and can reactivate later in life, causing shingles.1

An individual with shingles can spread VZV to someone who has never had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine, by means of direct contact with the fluid from the blisters. If they are infected, they will develop chickenpox, not shingles. They could then develop shingles later in life.1

It is not possible to spread VZV to others before their rash blisters appear or after the rash crusts.  There is a low risk of spreading VZV to others if you cover the shingles rash.1

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

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  • Painful rash that develops on one side of the face or body.1
  • The rash that consists of blisters will scab over 7 to 10 days and fully clears up within 2 to 4 weeks.1
  • Pain, itching or tingling in the area where it will develop.1
  • The rash will commonly occur in a single stripe around either the left or the right side of the body or the rash occurs on one side of the face.2
  • Shingles on the face can affect the eye and can lead to vision loss. 2
  • In people with weakened immune systems, the rash may be more widespread on the body and look like a chickenpox rash.2

Other symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Upset stomach2,3

AVOID TRANSMISSION BY:

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  • Covering the rash.
  • Avoid touching or scratching the rash. Wash your hands regularly.2,3

Avoid contact with:

  • Pregnant women who have never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine.2
  • Premature of low-birthweight infants.2
  • Immunocompromised individuals.2

TREATMENT AND PREVENTION

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  • If you think you may have shingles, contact your health care professional to discuss treatment options.

Treatment options include:

  • Anti-viral medicines.
  • Pain medication.
  • Ointments to relieve itchiness.2

Vaccination is recommended for individuals older than 50 years of age.1,4

Please note: This is an education information brochure only and should not be used for diagnosis. For more information on Shingles, consult your healthcare professional.


  1. Centers for disease control and prevention. Pinkbook. Herpes Zoster. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/herpes zoster.html Oct 2020. Accessed : 12 Jan 2022.
  2. Centres for disease control and prevention. About Shingles. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/shingles/about/index.html. Accessed: 12 Jan 2022
  3. National institute of aging : 5 things you need to know about shingles. Available at: https:// www.nia.nih.gov/health/shingles?_hsenc=p2ANqtz-8A6rHgAguV4 RCDtFCpTqg772wpSQfwRzLcK7lJrH5yynz7gn9R161 9UPy2OqS3iTmAp. Accessed : 12 Jan 2022
  4. Zostavax approved Package Insert, 9 August 2015.

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