Avera Medical Minute: Shingles vaccine can keep painful rash from occurring

Published: Jul. 17, 2020 at 12:52 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Jay Meyers was concerned about a painful rash that wasn’t clearing up, so he went to his doctor.

"It really burned a lot. I was really uncomfortable, but what was odd about it is, it made my joints and my hip and my back sore," said Meyers.

His doctor knew right away, it was shingles. The virus was traveling along his nerves.

"Kind of wrapped from the front of my body, all the way back around to my spinal cord. And he said I could get flare-ups all along," said Meyers.

They talked about why it was happening.

"Brought on by stress, and so there's this global pandemic going on and working from home taking care of kids, all that sort of thing," said Meyers.

About thirty percent of adults will get shingles in their lifetime, according to Dr. Michelle McElroy, an Avera physician.

“Patievaricella-zostere it as electrical shocks, a tingling and burning, and it’s a constant pain that they just can’t get over,” said Dr. McElroy.

If you had chickenpox, even years ago, the virus is already present.

“So it’s caused by the varicella-zoster virus, and it lives in somebody’s nerve rut and for whatever reason, it gets activated,” said Dr. McElroy.

Stress, compromised health, or age could bring it on. Severe cases can cause long term damage.

“It can get into your eyes and cause blindness. And then the other problem is it can lead to a chronic pain condition that lives in the area where the rash was that you need to have chronic pain meds, then for the rest of your life,” said Dr. McElroy.

If you have shingles, you can spread it as chickenpox to someone who hasn’t had chickenpox yet, or has not been vaccinated.

Meyers described how his 12-year-old child has had the full series of chickenpox vaccines, but their four-year-old has not, awaiting the recommended age for another shot.

"Be careful that my four-year-old doesn't come in contact with anything that comes in contact with the rash," said Meyers.

“Even if you’ve had shingles once you can get shingles again so a lot of those patients once we know that they’ve recovered from it. We will get them in for their shingles vaccine too,” said McElroy.

“I’ve heard horror stories about it being very very painful and lasted quite a long time, so if you have the opportunity and can get vaccinated, I say do it,” said Meyers.

There are possible side effects, so talk to your doctor.

Copyright 2020 Dakota News Now. All rights reserved.

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