Humpday Health: What to do if you are affected by shingles

Images of the rash that you could get if you are affected by shingles (Photo: Justin McKee/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Have you ever had chicken pox? Well, you could be at risk to develop shingles when you get older.

“Shingles is a reactivation infection, so it’s an infection that you had probably when you were a kid with chicken pox and the virus lies dormant in your nerve endings for decades and decades,” said Dr. Charin Hanlon, the director of New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Residency program.

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Dr. Hanlon says stress or health problems can cause shingles to flare up as a stripe of blisters on your body.

Shingles generally affects people aged 60 and older, but younger people can also get it.

The good news is the virus is not very contagious.

“The contagion is if you touch an open blister on someone’s body so it’s not spread through the air, you can’t be in a room with someone and get chicken pox, but you could touch someone and get that virus,” Dr. Hanlon said.

Dr. Hanlon says those who are 60 and older should consider getting a shingles vaccine.

“I would encourage people to talk to their doctor about whether they would be a candidate for Zostavax or the new vaccine which is called Shingrix,” Dr. Hanlon said. “They are two different vaccines and you can actually take the Shingrix new vaccine, even if you’ve had the old vaccine.”

There are a million shingles cases in the United States each year and one in four people will get it at some point in their life.