SHINGLES—it may sound like a petty condition…something that may present with a bit of itchiness and redness but definitely nothing serious. Well if this is how you perceive shingles, you are definitely wrong.
Shingles is a very concerning condition. Although it is not a life threatening disease, shingles may affect a person for life due to exacerbation and re-infection. Shingles is caused by the infection of a group of nerve endings leading to a band-like rash similar to that of a chicken pox. This certain rash may go on for days to more than a week and will erupt just like how chicken pox rashes do.
Shingles is caused by a virus called herpes zoster virus—a close relative of the varicella zoster virus, the one responsible for chicken pox. Shingles may be acquired at an earlier point in time, i.e. viral infections, chicken pox, etc. and the thing that happens is that herpes zoster virus has a high affinity to our nerve endings thus, they lie dormant in there until they are triggered to reactivate.
When these viruses reactivate, shingles infection occurs. Initially, common signs and symptoms like colds, body weakness, nausea and vomiting may occur. Soon enough, itchiness on a certain part of the body may also happen, followed by redness and the blisters may start to appear in the next 2-3 days.
Indications of Shingles Vaccine
Shingles vaccine is generally indicated in people 60 years old and above—especially to those who have been exposed to chicken pox (varicella) during their childhood years. The shingles vaccine is expected to protect a person from the reactivation of these shingles viruses.
However, like any other vaccines, shingles vaccine is not a failsafe method of preventing shingles reinfection. There may be instances where in a different strain of virus may affect a person—leading to the activation of shingles. When this happens though, the condition may lessen the intensity of signs and symptoms and will promote a speedier recovery from the infection.
The shingles vaccine is given as an intramuscular injection in the upper arm. Like other intramuscular injections and vaccines, shingles vaccine may give rise to side effects like redness, swelling and tenderness of the injected site.
Contraindications of Shingles Vaccine
A shingles vaccine is generally contraindicated for the following persons:
- Any allergic reaction to the components of the shingles vaccine (ask your physician most especially if you have experienced allergic reactions from shots before);
- People with weak immune system or conditions which contributes to a lowered resistance to bacteria and viruses like HIV/ AIDS, lymphoma and leukemia;
- Those people taking immunosuppressant drugs like steroids, chemotherapeutic agents, etc;
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women, or those trying to get pregnant.
Shingles is a very dreadful condition—not because it has deadly complications…but because the post herpetic neuralgia (pain) can be very bothersome and may occur even years after developing shingles. An ounce of prevention is indeed better than a pound of cure—get yourself vaccinated and be free from the threats of shingles.