Shingles on the buttocks


What causes a genital rash?

There are many different treatments for a genital rash, each influenced by its cause. There are some common threads through all of these treatments.

Share on PinterestTreatments for genital rashes depend on the cause of the rash, but include topical cream and medicated ointments.

For instance, while waiting to be diagnosed by a doctor, an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or spray may help with an itchy rash on the penis or vagina. Doctors commonly prescribe creams such as these to treat symptoms while they are investigating an exact cause. Hydrocortisone cream may also be purchase online.

Body lice and pubic lice are usually removed with a medicated wash. This is left on the genitals for a long time to kill the infestation, and then rinsed away. Scabies is usually treated with medicated ointments and creams.

Treating yeast infections is done with antifungal medications, which come as creams and powders with pills rarely necessary for rashes. Yeast infections are also treated using home remedies, such as yogurt or oregano oil. According to one study, oregano oil shows promise in getting rid of the fungus that causes yeast infection. Oregano oil can be purchased online.

Cases of genital warts are either treated with prescription medications or by removing them with liquid nitrogen. The best option is for a doctor to remove them.

Bacterial infections like syphilis are treated with antibiotics.

There is no known cure for genital herpes, but the symptoms are often controlled with medications.

Similarly, there are no known cures for autoimmune disorders like psoriasis, but some medications help control the symptoms caused by the disorder.

If the genital rash is due to an allergy, removing the allergen will usually allow it to clear up. The symptoms can be treated in the meantime, and a doctor can run allergy tests if the exact allergen is unknown.

Preventing a genital rash

Practicing safe sex will help avoid rashes caused by STIs. Eating a balanced diet and regularly exercising will keep the immune system strong and help to fight off germs. Allergic reactions can be prevented by avoiding the things that trigger the allergies.


For many causes of a genital rash, the symptoms can be removed by treating the underlying cause. Even conditions that have no known cure can be successfully controlled with medications.

By working directly with a doctor to diagnose and treat the rash, the outlook for most cases is good.

Shingles may be behind vulvar pain

Clinicians should be aware of genital shingles as a potential, underlying cause of chronic vulvar pain, say researchers. They highlight two such cases in the latest issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. Anne Louise Oaklander (Massachusetts General Hospital, USA) and colleagues describe the cases of two women who endured years of chronic pain before a correct diagnosis of vulvar shingles was made.


Shingles, which is caused by the varicella zoster virus, can have severe effects on the skin and nervous system, and may become a debilitating condition if left untreated, note the researchers.

In one of their case reports, Oaklander et al describe a 35-year-old woman whose chronic vulvar pain was caused by shingles, who was misdiagnosed and treated inappropriately for 6 years.

While vulvar shingles affects an estimated 1.5 million American women, it is often missed during gynecological examinations, according to the researchers.

“Although less than 10 percent of cases affect the genitals, shingles is such a common disease that all clinicians who perform routine gynecologic examinations should expect to encounter and treat it,” conclude the researchers.


This is particularly important, as, once diagnosed, shingles is highly treatable with antiviral medication and tricyclic antidepressants, they add.

Herpes and Shingles

Aggarwal BB, Sundaram C et al. Curcumin: the Indian solid gold. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 2007;595:1-75.

Allahverdiyev A, Duran N, Ozguven M, Koltas S. Antiviral activity of the volatile oils of Melissa officinalis L. against Herpes simplex virus type-2. Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology. Nov 2004;11(7-8):657-661.

Andersen JH, Jenssen H, Sandvik K, Gutteberg TJ. Anti-HSV activity of lactoferrin and lactoferricin is dependent on the presence of heparan sulphate at the cell surface. Journal of Medical Virology, 2004;74(2):262-271.

Andrei G, Lisco A et al. Topical Tenofovir, a Microbicide Effective against HIV, Inhibits Herpes Simplex Virus-2 Replication. Cell Host and Microbe, 2011; 10: 379-389

Antoine TW, Mishra YK et al. Prophylactic, Therapeutic and Neutralizing Effects of Zinc Oxide Tetrapod Structures Against Herpes Simplex Virus Type-2 Infection. Antiviral Research, 2012; 96: 363-375.

Aranow C. Vitamin D and the Immune System. Journal of Investigational Medicine, 2011; 59(6): 881-886.

Astani A, Reichling J, Schnitzler P. Melissa officinalis extract inhibits attachment of herpes simplex virus in vitro. Chemotherapy. 2012;58(1):70-77.

Aurelius E, Johansson B et al. Encephalitis in immunocompetent patients due to herpes simplex virus type 1 or 2 as determined by type-specific polymerase chain reaction and antibody assays of cerebrospinal fluid. Journl of Medical Virology, 1993;39(3):179-186.

Bartley J. Post Herpetic Neuralgia, Schwann Cell Activation and Vitamin D. Medical Hypotheses, 2009; 73: 927-929.

Beard JA, Bearden A et al. Vitamin D and the Anti-Viral State. Journal of Clinical Virology, 2011;50: 194-200.

Belshe RB, Leone PA et al. Efficacy Results of a Trial of a Herpes Simplex Vaccine. The New England Journal of Medicine, 2012; 366(1): 34-43.

Berger JR, Houff S. Neurological complications of herpes simplex virus type 2 infection. Archives of Neurology, 2008;65(5):596-600.

Bourne N, Stegall R et a. Efficacy and Toxicity of Zinc Salts as Candidate Topical Microbicides Against Vaginal Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Infection. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 2005; 49(3): 1181-1184.

Brinkevich SD, Boreko EL et al. Radical-Regulating and Antiviral Properties of Ascorbic Acid and its Derivatices. Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 2012; 22: 2424-2427.

Buske-Kirschbaum A, Geiben A et al. Preliminary evidence for Herpes labialis recurrence following experimentally induced disgust. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 2001;70(2):86-91.

Byun SH, and Jeon Y. Administration of Vitamin C in a Patient with Herpes Zoster – A case report. The Korean journal of pain, 2011;24(2):108-111.

Calore EE. Herpes simplex type 2 pneumonia. Brazilian Journal of Infectious Diseases, 2002;6(6):305-308.

Cao LZ, Lin ZB. Regulation on maturation and function of dendritic cells by Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides. Immunology letters. Oct 1 2002;83(3):163-169.

Cates W. After CAPRISA 004: Time to Re-evaluate the HIV Lexicon. The Lancet, 2010; 376: 495-496.

Celum C and Baeten JM. Tenofovir –based Pre-exposure Prophylaxis for HIV Prevention: Evolving Evdience. Current Opinion in Infectious Disease, 2012; 25(1): 51-57.

Cerezo J, Zuniga J et al. Antioxidant Properties of B-Carotene Isomers and Their Role in Photosystems: Insights from Ab Initio Simulations. The Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 116(13):3498-3506.

Chainani-Wu N. Safety and Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Curcumin: A Component of Tumeric. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2003: 9(1): 161-168.

Chao CT, Lai FU et al. Risk Factors for Herpes Zoster Reactivation in Maintenance Hemodialysis Patients. European Journal of Internal Medicine, 2012; 29: 711-715.

Chaudhuri A, Kennedy PG. Diagnosis and treatment of viral encephalitis. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 2002;78(924):575-583.

Chen JY, Chang CY et al. Nutritional Factors in Herpes Zoster, Postherpetic Neuralgia and Zoster Vaccination. Population Health Management, 2012; 15(6): 391-397.

Chen JY, Chang CY et al. Plasma vitamin C is lower in postherpetic neuralgia patients and administration of vitamin C reduces spontaneous pain but not brush-evoked pain. The Clinical Journal of Pain, 2009;25(7):562-569.

Chentoufi AA, Kritzek E et al. Towards a Rational Design of an Asymptomatic Clinical Herpes Vaccine: The Old, the New and the Unknown. Clinical and Develeopmental Immunology, 2012.

Chida Y, Mao X. Does psychosocial stress predict symptomatic herpes simplex virus recurrence? A meta-analytic investigation on prospective studies. Brain, behavior, and immunity, 2009;23(7):917-925.

Chisholm C and Lopez L. Cutaneous Infections Caused by Herpesviridae. Arcgives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, 2011; 135: 1357-1362.

Chu CL, Chen Dz C, Lin CC. A novel adjuvant Ling Zhi-8 for cancer DNA vaccines. Human vaccines. Nov 2011;7(11):1161-1164.

Cohen J. Painful Failure of Promising Genital Herpes Vaccine. Science, 2010; 330: 304.

Davison AJ, Eberle R et al. The Order Herpesvirales. Archives of Virology, 2009; 154: 171-177.

De Luca C, Khareva Z et al. Coenzyme Q10, Vitamin E, Selenium and Methionine in the Treatment of Chronic Recurrent Viral Mucocutaneous Infections. Nutrition, 2012; 28(5): 509-514.

Dimitrova Z, Dimov B, Manolova N, Pancheva S, Ilieva D, Shishkov S. Antiherpes effect of Melissa officinalis L. extracts. Acta microbiologica Bulgarica. 1993;29:65-72.

Dudhgaonkar S, Thyagarajan A, Sliva D. Suppression of the inflammatory response by triterpenes isolated from the mushroom Ganoderma lucidum. International immunopharmacology. Oct 2009;9(11):1272-1280.

Fashner J and Bell AL. Herpes Zoster and Postherpetic Neuralgia: Prevention and Management. American Family Physician, 2011; 83(12): 1432-1437.

Feldman SC, Reynaldi S et al. Antiviral Properties of Fucoidan Fractions From Leathesia Difformis. Phytomedicine, 1999; 6(5): 335-340.

Fernandez-Romero JA, Abraham CJ et l. Zinc Acetate/Carrageenan Gels Exhibit Potent Activity in Vivo Against High-Dose Herpes Simplex Virus 2 Vaginal and Rectal Challenge. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 2012; 56(1): 358-369.

Finnerup NB, Biering-Sørensen F et al. Intravenous lidocaine relieves spinal cord injury pain: a randomized controlled trial. Anesthesiology, 2005;102(5):1023-1030.

Fitton JH. Fucoidans: Healthful Saccharides From The Sea. GLycoscience and Nutrition, 2005; 6(1): 1-5.

Freston JW. Cimetidine: II. Adverse reactions and patterns of use. Ann Intern Med, 1982;97(5):728-734.

Furuya A, Uozaki M, Yamasaki H, Arakawa T, Arita M, Koyama AH. Antiviral effects of ascorbic and dehydroascorbic acids in vitro. International Journal of Molecular Medicine, 1998;22(4): 541-545.

Gaby AR. Natural remedies for Herpes simplex. Alternative Medicine Review, 2006;11(2):93-101.

Gallichan WS, Rosenthal KL. Effects of the estrous cycle on local humoral immune responses and protection of intranasally immunized female mice against herpes simplex virus type 2 infection in the genital tract. Virology. Oct 15 1996;224(2):487-497.

Geuenich S, Goffinet C, Venzke S, Nolkemper S, Baumann I, Plinkert P, . . . Keppler OT. Aqueous extracts from peppermint, sage and lemon balm leaves display potent anti-HIV-1 activity by increasing the virion density. Retrovirology. 2008;5:27.

Gharibo C and Kim C. Posteherpetic Neuralgia: An Overview of the Pathophysiology, Presentation and Management. Pain Medicine News 2011; 1-7

Gillgrass AE, Tang VA, Towarnicki KM, Rosenthal KL, Kaushic C. Protection against genital herpes infection in mice immunized under different hormonal conditions correlates with induction of vagina-associated lymphoid tissue. Journal of virology. Mar 2005;79(5):3117-3126.

Gnann JW Jr. Varicella-zoster virus: atypical presentations and unusual complications. Journal of Infectious Diseases, 2002;186 Suppl 1:S91-98.

Godfrey HR, Godfrey NJ et al. A Randomized Clinical Trial on the Treatment of Oral Herpes with Topical Zinc Oxide/Glycine. Alternative Therapies, 2001; 7(3): 49-55.

Gordon YK, asher Y et al. Irreversible Inhibition of Herpes Simplex Virus Replication in BSC-1 Cells by Zinc Ions. Antimicrobial Agents Chemotherapy, 1975; 8(3): 377-381.

Griffith RS, Walsh DE et al. Success of L-Lysine Therapy in Frequently Recurrent Herpes Simplex Infection. Dermatologica, 1987; 175: 183-190.

Haase H and Rink L. The Immune Sysytem and the Impact of Zinc During Aging. Immunity and Aging, 2009; 6(9)

Hayashi K, Nakano T et al. Defensive Effects of a Fucoidan From Brown Alga Undaria Pinnatifida Against Herpes Simplex Virus Infection. International Immunopharmacology, 2008; 8: 109-116.

Hayne ST and Mercer JB. Herpes Zoster: Treatment with Cimetidine. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 1983; 129: 1284-1285.

Hijikata Y and Yamada S. Effect of Ganoderma Lucidum on Postherpetic Neuralgia. American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 1998; 26: 375.

Hijikata Y, Yamada S et al. Herbal Mixtures Containing the Mushroom Ganoderma Lucidum Improve Recovery Time in Patients with Herpes Genitalis and Labialis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2007; 13(9): 985-987.

Hijikata Y, Yasushara A et al. Effect of an Herbal Formula Containing Ganoderma Lucidum on Reduction of Herpes Zoster Pain: A Pilot Clinical Trial. American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 2005; 33(4): 517-523.

Hill JM, Sedarti F et al. Herpes Simplex Virus Latent Phase Transcription Facilitates in Vivo Reactivation. Virology, 1990; 174: 117-125.

Ho YW, Yeung JS, Chiu PK, Tang WM, Lin ZB, Man RY, Lau CS. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharide peptide reduced the production of proinflammatory cytokines in activated rheumatoid synovial fibroblast. Molecular and cellular biochemistry. Jul 2007;301(1-2):173-179.

Hsu HC, Flancbaum LJ et al. Roles of in vitro- and in vivo-administered histamine and serotonin in compound 48/80-induced gastric acid secretion in isolated, perfused rat stomach. Digestive Diseases and Sciences, 1991;36(12):1708-1714.

Hughes D. Dietary Antioxidants and Human Immune Function. Nutrition Bulletin, 2000; 25: 35-41

Hurley LP, Lindlet MC et al. Barriers to the Use of the Herpes Zoster Vaccine. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2010; 152: 555-560.

Imai Y, Apakupakul K et al. Investigation of the Mechanism by Which Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 LAT Sequences Modulate Preferential Establishment of Latent Infection in Mouse Trigeminal Ganglia. Journal of Virology, 2009; 83(16): 7873-7882.

Irwin M, Costlow C et al. Cellular Immunity to Varicella-Zoster Virus in Patients with Major Depression. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 1998; 178(Suppl 1): S104-8

Jan RH, Lin TY, Hsu YC, Lee SS, Lo SY, Chang M, . . . Lin YL. Immuno-modulatory activity of Ganoderma lucidum-derived polysacharide on human monocytoid dendritic cells pulsed with Der p 1 allergen. BMC immunology. 2011;12:31.

Jennsen H, Sandvik K et al. Inhibition of HSV Cell-To-Cell Spread by Lactoferrin and Lactoferricin. Antiviral Research, 2008; 79: 192-198.

Jennsen H. Anti Herpes Simplex Virus Activity of Lactoferrin/Lactoferricin-An Example of Antiviral Activity of Antimicrobial Protein/Peptide. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 2005; 62: 3002-3013.

Jeurink PV, Noguera CL, Savelkoul HF, Wichers HJ. Immunomodulatory capacity of fungal proteins on the cytokine production of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. International immunopharmacology. Aug 2008;8(8):1124-1133.

Kapińska-Mrowiecka M, Turowski G. . Polski tygodnik lekarski, 1996;51(23-26):338-339.

Kapoor S. Vitamin C for Attenuating Postherpetic Neuralgia Pain: An Emerging Treatment Alternative. Journal of Headache Pain, 2012; 13: 591.

Kaushic C, Ashkar AA, Reid LA, Rosenthal KL. Progesterone increases susceptibility and decreases immune responses to genital herpes infection. Journal of virology. Apr 2003;77(8):4558-4565.

Keller MJ, Tuyama A et al. Topical Microbicides for the Prevention of Genital Herpes Infection. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 2005; 55: 420-423.

Khan MT, Ather A et al. Extracts and Molecules from Medicinal Plants Against Herpex Simplex Viruses. Antiviral Research, 2005; 67: 107-119.

Kim Y-S, Eo S-K et al. Antiherpetic Activities of Acidic Protein Bound Polysaccharide Isolated from Ganoderma Lucidum Alone and in Combinations with Interferons. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2000; 72: 451-458.

Kinchington PR, Leger AJ et al. Herpes Simplex Virus and Varicella Zoster Virus, the House Guests Who Never Leave. Herpesviridae, 2012; 3: 5-30.

Komlos L, Notmann J et al. In Vitro Cell-Mediated Immune Reactions in Herpes Zoster Patients Treated with Cimetidine. Asian Pacific Journal of Allergy and Immunology, 1994; 12: 51-58.

Koytchev R, Alken RG, Dundarov S. Balm mint extract (Lo-701) for topical treatment of recurring herpes labialis. Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology. Oct 1999;6(4):225-230.

Kushnir AS, Davido DJ et al Role of nuclear factor Y in stress-induced activation of the herpes simplex virus type 1 ICP0 promoter. Journal of Virology, 2010;84(1):188-200.

Kutluay SB, Doroghazi J et al. Curcumin Inhibits Herpes Simplex Virus Immediate-Early Gene Expression By a Mechanism Independent of p300/CBP Histone Acetyltransferase Activity. Virology, 2008; 373: 239-247.

Landry ML, Greenwold J, Vikram HR. Herpes simplex type-2 meningitis: presentation and lack of standardized therapy. The American journal of medicine, 2009;122(7):688-691.

Lang PO, Samaras N et al. How Important is Vitamin D in Preventing Infections? Osteoporosis International, 2012.

Lavery EA, Coyle WJ. Herpes simplex virus and the alimentary tract. Current Gastroenterology Reports, 2008;10(4):417-423.

Lee JB, Hayaski K et al. Novel Antiviral Fucoidan from Sporophyll of Undaria Pinnatifida (Mekabu). Chemical Pharmacology Bulletin, 2004; 52(9): 1091-1094.

Levin MJ, Gershon AA, Dworkin RH, Brisson M, Stanberry L. Prevention strategies for herpes zoster and post-herpetic neuralgia. Journal of Clinical Virology, 2010;48 Suppl 1:S14-19.

Li B, Lu F et al. Fucoidan: Structure and Bioactivity. Molecules, 2008; 13: 1671-1695.

Li Z. Liu J et al. Possible Mechanism Underlying the Antiherpetic Activity of a Proteoglycan Isolated from the Mycelia of Ganoderma Lucidum in Vitro. Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 2005; 38(1): 34-40.

Liebler DC and McClute TD. Antioxidant Reactions of B-Carotene: Identification of Carotenoid-Radical Adducts. Chemical Research in Toxicology, 1996;9:8-11.

Liu J, Yang F et al. Possible Mode of Action of Antiherpetic Activities of a Proteoglycan Isolated from the Mycelia of Ganoderma Lucidum in Vitro. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2004; 265-272.

Longo DJ and Clum GA. Psychosocial factors affecting genital herpes recurrences: linear vs mediating models. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 1989;33(2):161-166.

Lopez BS, Yamamoto M et al. A Clinical Pilor Study of Lignin-Ascorbic Acid Combination Treatment of Herpes Simplex Virus. In Vivo, 2009; 23: 1011-1016.

Ly BM, Buu NQ et al. Studies on Fucoidan and Its Production From Vietnamese Brown Seaweeds. AJSTD, 2005; 22(4): 371-380.

Mancini DA, Torres RP et al. Inhibition of DNA Virus: Herpes-1 (HSV-1) in Cellular Culture Replication, through and Antioxidant Treatment Extracted From Rosemary Spice. Brazilian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2009; 45(1): 127-133.

Marr AK, Jennsen H et al. Bovine Lactoferrin and Lactoferricin Interfere with Intracellular Trafficking of Herpes Simplex Virus-1. Biochimic 2009; 91: 160-164.

Mavlight GM and Talpaz M. Cimetidine for Herpes Zoster. The New England Journal of Medicine, 1984; 310(5): 318-319.

McCleane G. Topical application of doxepin hydrochloride, capsaicin and a combination of both produces analgesia in chronic human neuropathic pain: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 2000;49(6):574-579.

Mell HK. Management of Oral And Genital Herpes in the Emergency Department. Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America, 2008; 26: 457-473.

Miller A, Harel D et al. Cimetidine as an Immunomodulator in the Treatment of Herpes Zoster. Journal of Neuroimmunology, 1989; 22: 69-76.

Mostad SB, Kreiss JK et al. Cervical Shedding of Herpes Simpelx Virus in Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Women: Effects of Hormonal Contraception, Pregnancy, and Vitamin A Deficiency. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 2000;181: 58-63.

Mowry EM, James JA et all. Vitamin D status and Antibody Levels to Common Ciruses in Pediatric-Onset Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis, 2011; 17(6): 666-671.

Naeem Z. Vitamin D deficiency- an ignored epidemic. International Journal of Health Sciences (Qassim), 2010;4(1):V-VI.

Nolkemper S, Reichling J et al. Mechanism of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Suppression by Propolis Extracts. Phytomedicine, 2010; 17: 132-138.

Nolkemper S, Reichling J, Stintzing FC, Carle R, Schnitzler P. Antiviral effect of aqueous extracts from species of the Lamiaceae family against Herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in vitro. Planta medica. Dec 2006;72(15):1378-1382.

Norberg P. Divergence and Genotyping of Human a-herpesviruses: An Overview. Infection, Genetics and Evolution, 2010; 10: 14-25.

Odom CI, Gaston DC, Markert JM, Cassady KA. Human herpesviridae methods of natural killer cell evasion. Advances in virology. 2012;2012:359869.

Overbeck S, Rink L et al. Modulating the Immune Response by Oral Zinc Supplementation: A Single approach for Multiple Diseases. Archives of Immunological Therapy Experiments, 2008; 58: 15-30.

Oxman MN. Herpes zoster pathogenesis and cell-mediated immunity and immunosenescence. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. Jun 2009;109(6 Suppl 2):S13-17.

Ozden F, Turanli A, Acikgoz G, Eroglu C. Clinical success of lysine in association with serumal and salivary presence of HSV-1 in patients with recurrent aphthous ulceration. Journal of Experimental and Integrative Medicine, 2011;1:191-196.

Padgett DA, Sheridan JF et al. Social stress and the reactivation of latent herpes simplex virus type 1. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 1998;95(12):7231-7235. Erratum in: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 1998;95(20):12070.

Paterson RR. Ganoderma—A Therapeutic Fungal Biofactory, Phytochemistry 2006; 67: 1985-2001.

Pfister G, Savino W. Can the immune system still be efficient in the elderly? An immunological and immunoendocrine therapeutic perspective. Neuroimmunomodulation. 2008;15(4-6):351-364.

Prasad AS. Zinc in Human Health: Effect of Zinc on Immune Cells. Molecular Medicine, 2008; 14(5-6): 353-357.

Prasad KM, Bamne MN, Shirts BH, Goradia D, Mannali V, Pancholi KM, et al. Grey matter changes associated with host genetic variation and exposure to Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV1) in first episode schizophrenia. Schizophrenia research, 2010;118(1-3):232-239.

Rand KH, Hoon EF et al. Daily stress and recurrence of genital herpes simplex. Archives of Internal Medicine, 1990;150(9):1889-1893.

Riedel S. Smallpox and biological warfare: a disease revisited. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent), 2005;18(1):13-20.

Roizman B, Whitley RJ. The nine ages of herpes simplex virus. Herpes, 2001;8(1):23-27.

Rubey RN. Could Lysine Supplementation Prevent Alzheimer’s Dementia? A Novel Hypothesis. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 2010; 6: 707-710.

Sayanlar J, Guleyupoglu N, Portenoy R, Ashina S. Trigeminal postherpetic neuralgia responsive to treatment with capsaicin 8 % topical patch: a case report. The journal of headache and pain, 2012;13(7):587-589.

Schencking M, Volbracht C et al. Intravenous Vitamin C in the Treatment of Shingles: Results of a Multicenter Prospective Cohort Study. Medical Science Monitor, 2012; 18(4): CR215-224.

Schmader K, Studenski S et al. Are Stressful Life Events Risk Factors for Herpes Zoster? Journal of the American Geriatric Society, 1990; 38(11): 1188-1194.

Schnitzler P, Neuner A et al. Antiviral Activity and Mode of Action of Propolis Extracts and Selected Compounds. Phytotherapy Research, 2010; 24: S20-S28.

Schnitzler P, Schuhmacher A, Astani A, Reichling J. Melissa officinalis oil affects infectivity of enveloped herpesviruses. Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology. Sep 2008;15(9):734-740.

Schuller D. Lower respiratory tract reactivation of herpes simplex virus. Comparison of immunocompromised and immunocompetent hosts. Chest, 1994;106(1 Suppl):3S-7S; discussion 34S-35S.

Sekizawa T, Yanagi K, Itoyama Y. Glycyrrhizin increases survival of mice with herpes simplex encephalitis. Acta virologica. Feb 2001;45(1):51-54.

Shin J and Iwasaki A. A Vaccine Strategy that Protects Against Genital Herpes by Establishing Local Memory T cells. Nature, 2012; 491: 463-468.

Siakallis G, Spandidos DA et al. Herpesviridae and Novel Inhibitors. Antiviral Therapy, 2009; 14: 1051-1064.

Simberkoff MS, Arbeit RD et al. Safety of Herpes Zoster Vaccine in the Shingles Prevention Study. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2010; 152: 545-554

Singh BB, Udani J et al. Safety and Effectiveness of an L-Lysine, Zinc and Herbal-Based Product on the Treatment of Facial and Circumoral Herpes. Alternative Medicine Review, 2005; 10(2): 123-127.

Sköldenberg B. Herpes simplex encephalitis. Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases. Supplementum, 1996;100:8-13.

Sokumbi O, Wetter DA. Clinical features, diagnosis, and treatment of erythema multiforme: a review for the practicing dermatologist. International journal of dermatology. Aug 2012;51(8):889-902.

Stahl W and Helmut S. B-Carotene and Other Carotenoids in Protection From Sunlight. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2012; 96(suppl): 1179S-1184S.

Steiner I and Kennedy PG. Herpes simplex virus latent infection in the nervous system. Journal of Neurovirology, 1995;1(1):19-29.

Stock C, Guillen-Grima F et al. Risk Factors of Herpes Simplex Type 1 (HSV-1) Infection and Lifestyle Factors Associated with HSV-1 Manifestations. European Journal of Epidemiology, 2001; 17(9): 885-890.

Storcin JM. Propolis and the Immune System: A Review. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 2007; 113: 1-14.

Stowe RP, Mehta SK et al. Immune responses and latent herpesvirus reactivation in spaceflight. Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine. 2001;72(10):884-891.

Stuart-Harris C. The epidemiology and clinical presentation of herpes virus infections. The Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 1983;12 Suppl B:1-8.

Sucato G, Celum C et al. Demographic rather than behavioral risk factors predict herpes simplex virus type 2 infection in sexually active adolescents. The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, 2001;20(4):422-426.

Takahara T, Watanabe A, Shiraki K. Effects of glycyrrhizin on hepatitis B surface antigen: a biochemical and morphological study. Journal of hepatology. Oct 1994;21(4):601-609.

Tang JW, Coward LJ et al. Brain stem encephalitis caused by primary herpes simplex 2 infection in a young woman. J of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 2003;74(9):1323-1325.

Thomas SL, Wheeler JG et al. Micronutrient Intake and the Risk of Herpes Zoster: A Case-Control Study. International Journal of Epidemiology, 2006; 35: 307-314.

Thompson RL and Sawtell NM. The Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Latency Associated Transcript Locus is Required for the Maintenance of Reactivation Competent Latent Infections. Journal of Neurovirology, 2011; 17: 552-588.

Tomblin FA and Lucas KH. Lysine for Management of Herpes Labialis. American Journal of Health-Systems and Pharmacy, 2001; 58: 298-301.

Tseng HF, Smith N et al. Herpes Zoster Vaccine in Older Adults and the Risk of Subsequent Herpes Zoster Disease. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2011; 305(2): 160-166.

Ulbricht C. Herpes: An Integrative Approach. Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 2012; 18(5): 269-276.

Uozaki M, Ikeda K et al. Antiviral Effects of Dehydroascorbic Acid. Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, 2010; 1: 983-986.

Vahabpour-Roudsari R, Shamsi-Shahrabadi M et al. Evaluation of Potential Antiviral Activity of the Hydroalcoholic Extract of Lemon Balm L. Against Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1. Iranian Journal of Virology, 2010; 4(3&4): 52-57.

Valenti P and Antonini G. Lactoferrin: An Important Host Defence Against Microbial and Viral Attack. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 2005; 62: 2576-2587.

Välimaa H, Tenovuo J, Waris M, Hukkanen V. Human lactoferrin but not lysozyme neutralizes HSV-1 and inhibits HSV-1 replication and cell-to-cell spread. Virology journal. 2009;6:53.

van der Spuy S, Levy DW et al. Cimetidine in the Treatment of Herpesvirus Infections. South African Medical Journal, 1980; 58: 112-116.

Vynograd N, Vynograd I et al. A Comparative Multi-Center Study of the Efficacy of Propolis, Acyclovie and Placebo in the Treatment of Genital Herpes (HSV). Phytomedicine, 2000; 7(1): 1-6

Wallmann HW. A Brief Look at Shingles. Home Health Care Management Practice, 2011; 23: 299-302

Wang PY, Zhu XL, Lin ZB. Antitumor and Immunomodulatory Effects of Polysaccharides from Broken-Spore of Ganoderma lucidum. Frontiers in pharmacology. 2012;3:135.

Weaver BA. Herpes Zoster Overview: Natural History and Incidence. Journal of the American Osteopath Association, 2009; 109(suppl2): 52-56.

Wolbling RH, Leonhardt K. Local therapy of herpes simplex with dried extract from Melissa officinalis. Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology. Jun 1994;1(1):25-31.

Xi Bao Y, Kwok Wong C, Kwok Ming Li E, Shan Tam L, Chung Leung P, Bing Yin Y, Wai Kei Lam C. Immunomodulatory effects of lingzhi and san-miao-san supplementation on patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Immunopharmacology and immunotoxicology. 2006;28(2):197-200.

Yarnell E, Abascal K et al. Herbs for Herpes Simplex Infections. Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 2009; 15(2): 69-74.

Yeh CH, Chen HC, Yang JJ, Chuang WI, Sheu F. Polysaccharides PS-G and protein LZ-8 from Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) exhibit diverse functions in regulating murine macrophages and T lymphocytes. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. Aug 11 2010;58(15):8535-8544.

Zandi K, Ramedani F et al. Evaluation of Antiviral Activities of Curcumin Derivatives Against HSV-1 in Vero Cell Line. Natural Product Communications, 2010; 5(12): 1935-1938.

Zhu XL, Chen AF, Lin ZB. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides enhance the function of immunological effector cells in immunosuppressed mice. Journal of ethnopharmacology. May 4 2007;111(2):219-226.

Zhu XL, Liu JH, Li WD, Lin ZB. Promotion of Myelopoiesis in Myelosuppressed Mice by Ganoderma lucidum Polysaccharides. Frontiers in pharmacology. 2012;3:20.

Zwaagstra JC, Ghasi H et al. Identification of a Major Regulatory Sequence in the Latency Associated Transcript (LAT) Promoter of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1). Virology 1991; 182: 287-297.

Zwaagstra JC, Ghiasi H et al. Activity of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Latency-Associated Transcript (LAT) Promoter in Neuron-Derived Cells: Evidence for Neuron Specificity and for a Large LAT Transcript. Journal of Virology, 1990; 64(10): 5019-5028. ​

Viral Skin Diseases

Shingles: This painful viral infection is caused by herpes zoster, the virus that causes chickenpox. After infection with chickenpox, the virus “hides” in the nervous system in a latent or dormant state. Exposure to chickenpox or other stressors may cause a reactivation of the virus, resulting in a shingles outbreak. People over the age of 50 are most likely to suffer from shingles.

Shingles causes uncomfortable and painful symptoms due to inflammation of the sensory nerves, the nerves responsible for the perception of pain, touch, and temperature. The characteristic shingles rash appears as a band-like strip of red, oozing blisters. The rash typically wraps in a strip around the body and usually occurs on one side of the body. Shingles is contagious if an infected person has close contact with others who have not yet had chickenpox. Nerve pain due to shingles can sometimes persist for weeks to years after the rash heals. This painful, post viral condition is known as post-herpetic neuralgia.

Shingles (Herpes Zoster) in Children

What is shingles in children?

Shingles (herpes zoster) is a painful skin rash. It’s caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). This is the same virus that causes chickenpox.

What causes shingles in a child?

After a person has chickenpox, the virus stays in the body’s nerve cells but is inactive. Years later, the varicella-zoster virus can become active again. The virus can then cause a red rash or small blisters, usually on one side of the body. The rash or blisters spread along a nerve pathway where the virus was living.

Which children are at risk for shingles?

Shingles in children is not common. A child is more at risk for shingles if either of these are true:

  • He or she had chickenpox before age 1.

  • The child’s mother had chickenpox very late in pregnancy.

Children who get the chickenpox vaccine still have a small risk for shingles. But it may be a lower risk than after a chickenpox infection. And the symptoms may be less severe. The risk of shingles increases with age. A child with a weak immune system may have the same, or more severe, symptoms as an adult.

What are the symptoms of shingles in a child?

The symptoms start with pain, burning, tingling, or itching on one part of the face or body. The rash can appear up to 5 days after these symptoms.

The shingles rash most often occurs on the torso and buttocks. It may also appear on the arms, legs, or face. The rash starts as small, red spots that turn into blisters. The blisters turn yellow and dry. The rash is usually only on one side or part of the body. It goes away in 2 to 4 weeks.

Your child may also have symptoms such as:

  • Fever and chills

  • Headache

  • Nausea

The symptoms of shingles can be like other health conditions. Make sure your child sees a provider for a diagnosis.

How is shingles diagnosed in a child?

The healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and health history. Your child will have a physical exam. Your child may also have tests, such as:

  • Skin scrapings. The blisters are gently scraped to remove tiny samples. The samples are examined to look for the virus.

  • Blood tests. These are to check for signs of virus in the blood.

How is shingles treated in a child?

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

Treatment right away with antiviral medicine may help lessen how long the symptoms last and how serious they are. These antiviral medicines work better the sooner they are started. Your child may be given acyclovir, famcyclovir, or valacyclovir. Talk with your child’s healthcare providers about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all medicines.

Ask the healthcare provider about over-the-counter pain medicine. You may be able to give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever and discomfort. Don’t give ibuprofen to a child younger than 6 months old, unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Don’t give aspirin to children. Aspirin can cause a serious health condition called Reye syndrome.

If your child’s pain is severe, the healthcare provider may prescribe stronger pain medicine.

What are possible complications of shingles in a child?

After the shingles rash is gone, the pain may continue for a long time. This is a complication called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). Talk with the healthcare provider if your child’s pain stays after the rash goes away.

How can I help prevent shingles in my child?

There is a shingles vaccine for older adults, but not for children. This is because shingles is more severe in older adults. But a child who has had the chickenpox vaccine may have milder symptoms of shingles. If your child has not had chickenpox, talk with the healthcare provider about the chickenpox vaccine.

When should I call my child’s healthcare provider?

Call the healthcare provider if your child has:

  • Symptoms that don’t get better, or get worse

  • New symptoms

Key points about shingles in children

  • Shingles (herpes zoster) is a painful skin rash. It’s caused by the virus that causes chickenpox.

  • Shingles in children is not common.

  • The symptoms start with pain, burning, tingling, or itching on one part of the face or body. The virus can then cause a red rash or small blisters, usually on one side of the body.

  • Treatment right away with antiviral medicine may help lessen how long the symptoms last and how serious they are.

  • If your child’s pain is severe, the healthcare provider may prescribe strong pain medicine.

  • There is a shingles vaccine for older adults, but not for children. But a child who has had the chickenpox vaccine may have milder symptoms of shingles.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.

  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.

  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.

  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know what the side effects are.

  • Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.

  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.

  • Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.

  • If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.

  • Know how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.

Herpes Zoster (Shingles) Symptoms & Causes

What is herpes zoster?
Herpes zoster, or shingles, is a common viral infection of the nerves, which results in a painful rash of small blisters on a strip of skin anywhere on the body. Even after the rash is gone, the pain may continue for months.

What causes herpes zoster?

Herpes zoster is caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus. After a person has had chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in certain nerves for many years.

Is herpes zoster common?

Herpes zoster is more common in people with a depressed immune system and those over the age of 50. It’s quite rare in children and the symptoms are mild compared to what an adult may experience. Children most at risk for herpes zoster are those who had chicken pox during the first year of life or whose mothers had chicken pox very late during pregnancy.

What are the symptoms of herpes zoster?

The rash associated with herpes zoster most often occurs on the trunk and buttocks. It may also appear on the arms, legs or face. While symptoms may vary child to child, the most common include:

  • skin hypersensitivity in the area where the herpes zoster is to appear
  • mild rash, which appears after five days and first looks like small, red spots that turn into blisters
  • blisters, which turn yellow and dry, often leaving small, pitted scars
  • rash goes away in one to two weeks
  • rash is usually localized to one side of the body

Is it shingles? Pictures and symptoms

Share on PinterestShingles blisters should be kept covered until they scab over.

Currently, there is no cure for shingles. Treatment is available to decrease the severity of the infection and reduce symptoms.

For example, antiviral medications may be recommended. Antiviral medication for shingles does not kill the virus. Instead, it stops it from multiplying, which may shorten the length of the illness.

Medications to treat pain may also be prescribed. Various medications are available, including creams, which are applied to the skin, and oral medications.

Home treatment may include applying cool compresses to the skin to ease the pain.


It’s also important to prevent the virus from spreading. Although shingles itself cannot be transmitted, the virus can be passed on, possibly causing chickenpox.

Someone with shingles is not contagious once the blisters have scabbed over and are no longer weeping. Before they have scabbed over, it is important to keep them covered around other people.

One way to prevent shingles is to get vaccinated. The chickenpox vaccine is often given as a routine childhood vaccine. Adults who have not had chickenpox can also get the vaccine.

For those who have already had chickenpox, there is also a shingles vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration approved the shingles vaccine for adults over the age of 50. The CDC recommend adults over the age of 60 who have a history of chickenpox get the vaccine. There is no maximum age for getting the vaccine.

It’s important to understand that both vaccines do not guarantee an individual will not be infected with the virus. They do substantially decrease a person’s chances of developing the diseases, however.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the shingles vaccine provides protection from the virus for about 5 years. After that, the effectiveness of the vaccine decreases. Currently, the vaccine is only given once.

Shingles can affect someone more than once. People who have already had shingles can also get vaccinated to prevent getting the infection again.

The shingles vaccine is safe for most people. As always, someone considering the vaccine should discuss it with their doctor. Side effects from the vaccine are usually mild and include pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site.

Shingles – symptoms, treatment, vaccination


The virus that causes shingles is present in the fluid within the blisters of people suffering from shingles. Transmission of this virus mainly occurs through direct or indirect contact with the fluid in the blisters. Rarely, the virus can be transmitted in droplets of saliva from the nose and mouth. A person with shingles is contagious from when the blisters first develop until after all of the blisters have crusted over. If the virus is transmitted from a person who has shingles to a person who has not had chickenpox, that person will develop chickenpox, not shingles.


The most common complication of shingles is a condition called post-herpetic neuralgia. Symptoms include persistent pain at the site of the shingles rash that lasts for more than one month. Anti-seizure and anti-depressant medications are sometimes used to treat the pain caused by post-herpetic neuralgia. Other less common complications of shingles include:

  • Bacterial skin infections
  • Harm to anunborn foetus if the mother develops shingles in the early months of pregnancy
  • Damage to the eye if shingles affecting the eye is left untreated. In rare cases, blindness can occur
  • Ramsay Hunt’s syndrome caused by facial shingles. This condition can cause ear pain, facial paralysis, and loss of taste and hearing.

Most complications of shingles are very rare, but it is still important to consult a doctor as soon as shingles is suspected so that an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment can be given. This is especially important for those people with a weakened immune system.

Prevention / vaccination

Although shingles is less contagious than chickenpox, you should still take the following steps to prevent spreading the virus:

  • Keep the rash covered
  • Avoid scratching or touching the rash
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often
  • Avoid contact with people at risk, including women who are pregnant, premature or low birth-weight babies, and people with weakened immune system.

A shingles vaccine is available in New Zealand for immunisation of people aged 50 years and older and free from GPs for adults at age 65 years. The vaccine reduces the risk of shingles developing and may help to reduce the severity and duration of shingles if it does occur.

Further information

If you believe you may have shingles or you want to know if the shingles vaccine is suitable for you, contact your GP or practice nurse, or call Healthline on 0800 611 116 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Immunisation Advisory Centre (2018). Herpes zoster (shingles) Fact Sheet (PDF). Auckland: University of Auckland.
Mayo Clinic (2018). Shingles (Web Page). Rochester, NY: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
Ministry of Health (2018). Shingles (Web Page). Wellington: New Zealand Ministry of Health.
Oakley, A. (2015). Herpes zoster (Web Page). Hamilton: DermNet New Zealand. [Accessed: 18/06/19
Reid, J.S., Ah Wong B (2014). Herpes zoster (shingles) at a large New Zealand general practice: incidence over 5 years. N Z Med J. 2014;127(1407):56-60.
O’Toole, M.T. (Ed.) (2017). Herpes zoster. Mosby’s Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing & Health Professions (10th ed.). St Louis, MI: Elsevier.
Last Reviewed – June 2019

Varicella-Zoster Virus (Chickenpox and Shingles)

What is varicella-zoster?

Varicella-zoster is a herpes virus that causes chickenpox, a common childhood illness. It is highly contagious. If an adult develops chickenpox, the illness may be more severe. After a person has had chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus can remain inactive in the body for many years. Herpes zoster (shingles) occurs when the virus becomes active again.

What illnesses does varicella-zoster cause?

Chickenpox first occurs as a blister-like skin rash and fever. It takes from 10-21 days after exposure for someone to develop chickenpox. The sores commonly occur in batches with different stages (bumps, blisters, and sores) present at the same time. The blisters usually scab over in 5 days. A person with chickenpox is contagious 1-2 days before the rash appears and until all blisters have formed scabs. Children with weakened immune systems may have blisters occurring for a prolonged time period. Adults can develop severe pneumonia and other serious complications.

Shingles occurs when the virus, which has been inactive for some time, becomes active again. Severe pain and numbness along nerve pathways, commonly on the trunk or on the face, are present. Clusters of blisters appear 1 to 5 days later. The blisters are usually on one side of the body and closer together than in chickenpox. Shingles does not spread as shingles from one person to another. If people who have never had chickenpox come in contact with the fluid from shingles blisters, they can develop chickenpox.

Can you get chickenpox if you’ve been vaccinated?

Yes. About 15% – 20% of people who have received one dose of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine do still get chickenpox if they are exposed, but their disease is usually mild. Vaccinated persons who get chickenpox generally have fewer than 50 spots or bumps, which may resemble bug bites more than typical, fluid-filled chickenpox blisters. In 2006, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to recommend routine two-dose varicella vaccination for children. In one study, children who received two doses of varicella vaccine were three times less likely to get chickenpox than individuals who have had only one dose.

Are chickenpox and shingles serious illnesses?

The symptoms may be more severe in newborns, persons with weakened immune systems, and adults. Serious problems can occur and may include pneumonia (bacterial and viral), brain infection (encephalitis), and kidney problems. Many people are not aware that before a vaccine was available, approximately 10,600 persons were hospitalized, and 100 to 150 died, as a result of chickenpox in the U.S. every year.

What should I do about an exposure to varicella?

If you have been in contact with someone with chickenpox or shingles, or if you have a rash-associated illness that might be chickenpox or shingles, discuss your situation with your healthcare provider. Blood tests may be done to see if you have become infected with the virus or have had the disease in the past. If you are pregnant and not immune and have been exposed to chickenpox or shingles, call your healthcare provider immediately. Your provider may choose to treat you with a medication called varicella-zoster immune globulin (VZIG), but in order for this medication to be most helpful, it needs to be given as soon as possible after your exposure to varicella.

I’m pregnant and have recently been exposed to someone with chickenpox. How will this exposure affect me or my pregnancy?

  • Susceptible pregnant women are at risk for associated complications when they contract varicella. Varicella infection causes severe illness in pregnant women, and 10%-20% of those infected develop varicella pneumonia, with mortality (death) reported as high as 40%.
  • Because of these risks, pregnant women without evidence of immunity to varicella who have been exposed to the virus may be given varicella-zoster immune globulin (VZIG) to reduce their risk of disease complications.
  • If you are pregnant and have never had chickenpox, and you get chickenpox during the:
    • First half (about 20 weeks) of your pregnancy, there is a very slight risk (0.4% to 2%) for birth defects or miscarriage.
    • Second half of your pregnancy, the baby may have infection without having any symptoms and then get shingles (zoster) later in life.
  • Newborns whose mothers develop varicella rash from 5 days before to 2 days after delivery are at risk for neonatal varicella, associated with mortality as high as 30%. These infants should receive preventive treatment with varicella-zoster immune globulin (VZIG).

I’m pregnant and have had a blood test for chickenpox. What do the results of this test show?

The blood test can show that you:

  • Are immune (have already had varicella disease or varicella vaccine) and have no sign of recent infection. You have nothing further to be concerned about.
  • Are not immune and have not yet been infected. You should avoid anyone with chickenpox during your pregnancy.
  • Have or recently had an infection. You should discuss what the risks are for your stage of pregnancy with your healthcare provider.

Is there a way I can keep from being infected with chickenpox?

Yes, make sure all your vaccines are up to date, especially if you are planning a pregnancy. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and those you love. If you are not immune, you should be vaccinated. You will receive two doses of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine one month apart. You should avoid becoming pregnant for at least one month after the last vaccination. Varicella vaccine should not be given to pregnant women.
If you are pregnant, have your healthcare provider give you the varicella vaccine after your baby is delivered.

Shingles Vaccination, what you should know:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends shingles vaccine (Zostavax®) for people 60 years of age and older. This is a one-time vaccination to prevent shingles. There is no maximum age for getting the shingles vaccine.

Anyone 60 years of age or older should get the shingles vaccine, regardless of whether they recall having had chickenpox or not. Studies show that more than 99% of Americans ages 40 and older have had chickenpox, even if they don’t remember getting the disease.

Your risk for getting shingles begins to rise around age 50. However, shingles vaccine (Zostavax®) is only recommended for persons age 60 and older because the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine have only been studied in this age group.

Even if you have had shingles, you can still receive the shingles vaccine to help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific time that you must wait after having shingles before receiving the shingles vaccine. The decision on when to get vaccinated should be made with your healthcare provider. Generally, a person should make sure that the shingles rash has disappeared before getting vaccinated.

Additional information can be found at:

For more information, call the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) at 573-751-6113 or 866-628-9891 (8-5 Monday thru Friday), or call your local health department.

Department of Health

Shingles (herpes zoster)

Last Reviewed: May 2016

  • Further information on shingles from Wadsworth Center for Laboratories and Research
  • Herpes zóster – Medline Plus Información de Salud para Usted

Shingles, also called herpes zoster or zoster, is a painful skin rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains inactive in the body. Usually the virus does not cause any further problems; however, the virus may re-emerge years later, causing shingles.

Who gets shingles?

Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox may develop shingles, including children. However, shingles most commonly occurs in people 50 years old or older. The risk of getting shingles increases as a person gets older. People who have medical conditions that keep the immune system from working properly, like cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections, or people who receive drugs that weaken the immune system, such as steroids and drugs given after organ transplantation, are also at greater risk to get shingles.

How is shingles spread?

A person must have already had chickenpox in the past to develop shingles. A person cannot get shingles from a person that has shingles. However, the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles can be spread from a person with active shingles to a person who has never had chickenpox or had the chickenpox vaccine. The person exposed to the virus would develop chickenpox, not shingles. A person with shingles can spread the virus when the rash is in the blister-phase. The blister fluid is filled with virus particles. The virus is spread through direct contact with the rash or through breathing in virus particles that get mixed in the air. Once the rash has developed crusts, the person is no longer contagious. A person is not infectious before blisters appear or if pain persists after the rash is gone (post-herpetic neuralgia).

Shingles usually starts as a rash on one side of the face or body. The rash starts as blisters that scab after seven to ten days. The rash usually clears within two to four weeks.

Before the rash develops, there is often pain, itching, or tingling in the area where the rash will develop. Other symptoms of shingles can include fever, headache, chills, and upset stomach.

How soon do symptoms appear?

The virus lies dormant in someone who has had chickenpox in the past. It can reactivate many years later.

What are the complications associated with shingles?

Shingles is not usually dangerous to healthy individuals although it can cause great misery during an attack. Anyone with shingles on the upper half of their face, no matter how mild, should seek medical care at once because of the risk of damage to the eye. Very rarely, shingles can lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation (encephalitis) or death. For about one person in five, severe pain can continue even after the rash clears up. This pain is called post-herpetic neuralgia. As people get older, they are more likely to develop post-herpetic neuralgia, and it is more likely to be severe.

Is there a treatment for shingles?

Several antiviral medicines, acyclovir (Zovirax), valacyclovir (Valtrex), and famciclovir (Famvir), are available to treat shingles. These medications should be started as soon as possible after the rash appears and will help shorten the illness and decrease how severe the illness is. Pain medicine may also help with pain caused by shingles. Call your provider as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.

Does past infection make a person immune?

Usually. Most people who have shingles have only one episode with the disease in their lifetime. Although rare, a second or even third case of shingles can occur.

Is there a vaccine for shingles?

There are two shingles vaccines currently available, Shingrix and Zostavax. Shingrix vaccine, a newer vaccine, is preferred over Zostavax for the prevention of shingles and its complications. Two doses of Shingrix given 2 to 6 months apart are recommended for healthy adults 50 years of age and older. Shingrix is also recommended for adults who have previously received Zostavax. A single dose of Zostavax may still be used to prevent shingles in certain cases for healthy adults 60 years and older.

What can be done to prevent the spread of shingles?

A vaccine for chickenpox is available and it is hoped that individuals immunized against chickenpox will be less likely to develop shingles in later life.

The risk of spreading the virus that causes shingles is low if the rash is covered. People with shingles should keep the rash covered, not touch or scratch the rash, and wash their hands often to prevent the spread of shingles. Once the rash has developed crusts, the person is no longer contagious.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *