Edmonds Medical Clinic Articles

What is Shingles?

This is also called Zoster or Herpes Zoster.

About 1 million Americans suffer from this disease a year. It most often occurs around the age of 50 to 80 but can occur at any time.

What is the cause of shingles?

To start with the conclusion, chickenpox is the cause.

In the past, there was no vaccine to prevent chickenpox, so it was a disease that most people suffer from. The chickenpox virus is reactivated in middle or old age after knowing that chickenpox has healed. The disease that causes skin rash or pain is distinguished from chickenpox and is called shingles.

As a child, after suffering from chickenpox, and later reactivated. (10-20% reactivated)

When you have never had chickenpox, but have no antibodies in your body, and have been exposed to a person infected with chickenpox or shingles and become infected with the virus.

What are the risk factors?

1. Over 50 years old.

2. T-lymphocyte immune-related diseases: AIDS virus infection, cancer patients, organ transplant, and other immunodeficiency diseases.

3. When your immunity has fallen due to severe stress.


What are the symptoms of shingles?

Chills, fever, and cold symptoms are also common, making it difficult to confirm at first. In addition, as pain appears in the body on one side, various symptoms such as paresthesia, muscle pain, and numbness in the limbs may be accompanied. It is difficult to confirm until blisters come up, and because they think that it is simply a skin disease, the treatment period may be missed.

If the pain appears to one side and then the blisters appear as bands, you should get an accurate diagnosis and treatment at the clinic immediately.

Any complications?

If you miss out the treatment time, you may suffer from chronic pain. About 10 to 18% of people with shingles suffer from chronic pain, and symptoms such as burning, burning, and stinging may last for months to years.

What treatment is available?

Because shingles is caused by a virus, it is difficult to eradicate it completely. However, it is important to initially take antiviral medication to relieve symptoms quickly and prevent chronic neuralgia.

Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent it. The vaccine prevents the reactivation of the virus that was latent in the body at a young age, after chickenpox, and is targeted for adults over 50. Currently, there are two vaccines in the U.S.

First, a vaccine called Zostavax has been on the market since 2006, and you only need one dose. Second, the vaccine called Shingrix has been on the market since 2017, and needs to be given twice, with an interval of two to six months. The new Shingrix vaccine is now known to be more effective.

Steven Koh, MD

Family Medicine

Edmonds Medical Clinic