Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

  • Medical Author:
    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

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Quick GuideShingles Pictures Slideshow: A Collection of Photos on Shingles

Shingles Pictures Slideshow: A Collection of Photos on Shingles

What can be done for recurrent shingles?

Though most people will experience only one episode of shingles during their lifetime, recurrence can occur in certain individuals. In order to help prevent recurrent episodes of shingles, individuals with no contraindications can receive the zoster vaccine (Zostavax), which has been shown to be effective in decreasing recurrent episodes of shingles. Otherwise, people who do experience a recurrent case of shingles should see their doctor as soon as the rash appears in order to promptly receive antiviral medication.

What is the prognosis of shingles?

Generally speaking, shingles typically resolves within two to four weeks in most individuals. The prognosis is excellent for younger and healthy individuals who develop shingles, with very few experiencing any complications. However, in older individuals and in those with compromised immune systems, the prognosis is more guarded, as complications and more severe outbreaks of shingles occur more commonly in these groups.

Approximately 1%-4% of people who develop shingles require hospitalization for complications, and about 30% of those hospitalized have impaired immune systems. In the U.S., it is estimated there are approximately 96 deaths per year directly related to the varicella zoster virus, the vast majority of which occur in the elderly and in those who are immunocompromised.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/6/2015
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