There are an estimated one million cases of shingles every year in the United States. Anyone that has had chickenpox can get shingles. Even children can get shingles, but about half of all cases occur in those over the age of 60.
Shinges is caused by the varicella zoster virus. After recovery from chickenpox, this virus lies dormant in the body, and can reactivate later to cause shingles. This can happen many years after the original chickenpox outbreak.
If you have shingles, you can’t give shingles to another person; however, you can spread the virus as chickenpox to another person that has never had the virus. During an outbreak it’s important to remember these things:
- Keep the rash covered to avoid spreading the virus
- Don’t scratch or touch the blisters
- Wash your hands often
- Avoid contact with women who may be pregnant, or children who have never had chickenpox
There is no cure for shingles, but there is help available in the form of topical treatments that can ease the nerve pain and help to dry the blisters.