Shingles Support Society

Shingles Support Society

The Shingles Support Society supplies information on shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN for short): what they are and how to treat them.

Shingles (herpes varicella-zoster) is a reappearance of chickenpox. This often happens many years after the original chickenpox infection. In order to prevent half the cases of shingles, and lessen the severity of the rest, a vaccine to prevent shingles is being introduced.

  • Anyone who has had chickenpox can develop shingles – and most people have chickenpox in childhood: it is one of the common childhood illnesses and is usually trivial. (Chickenpox in adults can be more severe and if they are seen by the doctor within 24 hours of the onset of the rash, they will be given antiviral pills.)

    Shingles is more likely to occur in older people.

    People who have not had chickenpox cannot get shingles. (Some people with shingles believe that they have never had chickenpox. This simply means that their original bout of chickenpox was mild and not diagnosed at the time – or they have forgotten because it was such a long time ago.)

    There is a new vaccine to prevent shingles which is slowly being introduced. The aim will be to vaccinate everyone between 70 and 79. At present, anyone who was 70, 78 or 79 on the 1st September 2014 is entitled to be vaccinated. This vaccination prevents half the cases of shingles, and the cases that do happen in vaccinated people are milder and less painful.

    PHN happens when the chickenpox virus affects a sensory nerve during the shingles outbreak. The damaged nerve sends abnormal messages, or even stops sending them so there is numbness.

    As you get older, your chance of developing PHN increases.

    There are various medications and self-help suggestions on our website.


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