The Truth Behind These 8 Shingles Myths

You’ve likely heard of shingles and at least one or two things about it. The problem is, this common condition is commonly misunderstood.

Let’s take a look at eight common shingles myths and sort out the facts from the fiction. 

1. Shingles is just an itchy rash (like chickenpox or poison ivy). (Wrong!)

Unlike chickenpox, poison ivy, or other itchy skin conditions, the first signs of shingles are tingling and pain. An infection causes pain in the nerve or nerves under the skin. 

A few days after the pain starts, an itchy, red rash appears in the same skin area or areas. 

2. Shingles is a rare condition. (Wrong!)

Wrong! Roughly half of those who live into their 80s will get shingles during their lifetime — unless they get vaccinated. 

3. There is NO vaccine for shingles. (Wrong!)

The FDA approved a vaccine for shingles in 2017. The vaccine is safe, is 90% effective in reducing the risk of shingles, and the CDC recommends it for adults 50 and older.

4. Young people DON’T get shingles. (Wrong!)

While people older than 50 are generally at much higher risk of shingles because they have weaker immune systems, younger people can also get it.

Younger people on medications such as steroids or chemotherapy that weaken their immune systems are also at high risk for shingles. 

5. Shingles is adult chickenpox. (Wrong!)

Shingles comes from the same varicella-zoster virus as chickenpox but is a potentially much more severe virus. 

The chickenpox rash appears after exposure to the virus. The shingles pain and rash occur after the dormant virus reactivates. 

The varicella-zoster virus reactivates due to lowered cellular immunity caused by medications and aging. 

6. Shingles is NOT contagious (like chickenpox). (Wrong!)

The shingles rash cannot spread shingles, but it can spread chickenpox to previously uninfected people. 

7. You CAN’T treat shingles. (Wrong!)

Taking an antiviral medicine in the first few days after the rash appears may ease the pain and get rid of shingles sooner. The sooner, the better.

Also, nerve block treatments and over-the-counter and prescription pain medicine can treat the pain caused by shingles.

8. Shingles clears up in a few days. (Half True)

Sadly, about 40% of people who get shingles continue to feel symptoms in the form of tingling, burning, and shooting pain for years. 

The condition is known as postherpetic neuralgia, and pain specialists know how to manage it.

Shingles treatment at Texas Pain Physicians

At TPP, we put patients first. Our approach to shingles pain relief centers on giving you the right treatment from the right doctors. And we ensure that your treatment starts as soon as possible.

Please give us a call or book your appointment online today.