Shingles is a rash that is occurs on the skin. Most commonly people report having shingles on their arms or the abdomen area. However, the rash can be found on any part of the body, since it follows the path of nerve ending. Before the rash is present, people suffer from sensitive skin in the area, as well as burning pain a few days or even weeks before the rash presents itself. Those who develop Shingles are usually under some sort of stress in their life, have an immunity deficient disease or have cancer. Once the rash has formed, it follows along the endings of nerves. This means many people who develop Shingles do not have the concentration in one area, in fact the blisters can be spotty going from one spot of the arm to another for example.

Singles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox, which does mean it is contagious. However, it is only contagious to those people who have never had the chicken pox virus before. Those who do contract Shingles, are at risk to develop it again later in life. Those who do develop Shingles seldom report any complications from the rash. Some people may experience cellulitis, which is caused from the blisters popping and becoming infected with bacteria. Rarely, when Shingles is located on the face, the blisters can spread to the eye, which can cause a loss of vision. However, this is extremely rare. Another rare complication of Shingles is the syndrome known as Ramsay-Hunt. In this case the blisters are usually located around the ear and in the ear canal and symptoms include deafness and facial nerve weakness.

One of the most common complications of Shingles is posthreuptic neuralgia. This is a condition that even after the rash is gone, the nerve endings still cause the person pain. This usually only occurs in patients over the age of 50 and is treatable with various medications including topical creams.

There is a vaccine to prevent Shingles. It is recommended for adults 60 years of age and older since after the age of 50 the chances of contracting Shingles goes up significantly. And the older the person who develops Shingles is, the majority of time, the worse their case of Shingles is. The vaccine is called Zostavax and is a one time vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration approved its use in 2006. When the vaccine was tested, it was found that the vaccine reduced the risk of Shingles by about 51%. It also showed a dramatic decrease in the risk of Shingle related complications such as postheruptic neuralgia. It was found that the vaccine was most effective in people between the ages of 60 and 69, however it was still effective in groups that were older.

Because the vaccine contains a weakened viral particles, there are some people who should not get the Shingles vaccine. Those who have life-threatening allergies to gelatin or antibiotic neomycin, those with weakened immune systems to HIV, AIDS or cancer, and those who are being treated with drugs that affect the immune system.

Those who have had Shingles in the past, are still urged to get the Shingles vaccine, as it can help prevent future occurrences of Shingles. Recent studies have thought that the vaccine last up to 6 years at a time. It is important to note that a few people who receive the Shingles vaccine, develop a rash, soreness and/or swelling and itching at the point where the shot was given. Many people often complain of headache after receiving the shot. All these side effects were mild and did not have major affects on the patient.

The Shingles vaccine is covered through most health care plans, however if interested, talk with your physician first.