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How To Prevent Shingles: Vaccination And Other Strategies

Strategies for preventing shingles through vaccination and more

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus. It can occur at any age and is more common in older adults and those with weakened immune systems. The good news is that there are effective ways to prevent shingles, including vaccination and other strategies.

Understanding Shingles

Before getting into prevention methods, it’s important to understand what shingles is and how it manifest. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in the body. Years later, it can reactivate and travel along nerve pathways to the skin, causing the characteristic shingles rash. Shingles’ Symptoms include a painful, blistering rash, itching, fever, headache and fatigue.

Vaccination: The Most Effective Prevention

The most effective way to prevent shingles is through vaccination. There are two vaccines available:

  • Zostavax: This is a live vaccine that reduces the risk of developing shingles by about 51%. It’s recommended for adults aged 60 and older but is less commonly used now due to the availability of a more effective vaccine.
  • Shingrix: This is a non-live, recombinant vaccine that is over 90% effective at preventing shingles and its complications. It’s recommended for adults aged 50 and older, including those who have previously received Zostavax. Shingrix is given in two doses, with the second dose administered two to six months after the first.

Other Prevention Strategies for Shingles

In addition to vaccination, other strategies can help reduce the risk of developing shingles:

  • Maintain a Healthy Immune System: A strong immune system can help keep the varicella-zoster virus in check. You can support your immune system by eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, managing stress and getting enough sleep.
  • Practice Good Hygiene: While shingles is not as contagious as chickenpox, the virus can be spread to people who have never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, leading to chickenpox (not shingles). To reduce the risk of transmission, keep the rash covered, avoid touching or scratching the rash and wash your hands frequently.
  • Manage Stress: High levels of stress can weaken the immune system and may trigger the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus. Engaging in stress-reducing activities like yoga, meditation or deep breathing exercises can help.
  • Prompt Treatment of Chickenpox: In individuals who have not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, prompt treatment with antiviral medication can reduce the severity of the disease and potentially decrease the risk of developing shingles later in life.

Who Should Get the Shingles Vaccine?

Shingrix vaccine is recommended for:

  • Adults aged 50 and older, regardless of whether they’ve had shingles before or received the Zostavax vaccine.
  • Adults with weakened immune systems due to disease or medication, as they are at a higher risk of developing shingles.

It’s important to note that people who are currently experiencing a shingles outbreak or who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not receive the Shingrix vaccine.

Have Questions? Book Your Consultation with Touchwood Pharmacy!

Shingles can be a painful and debilitating condition, but fortunately, it is preventable. Vaccination with Shingrix is the most effective way to reduce the risk of developing shingles and its complications.

In addition to vaccination, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, practising good hygiene, managing stress and promptly treating chickenpox can further reduce the risk. If you are eligible for the shingles vaccine, talk to your healthcare provider about getting vaccinated to protect yourself from this painful condition.

Take the first step towards proactive health management with Touchwood Pharmacy’s Pharmacy First. Book your consultation today and receive personalised care from our expert pharmacists. Experience convenience, expert advice and peace of mind knowing your health is in good hands.