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Who is at highest risk for suffering complications from Shingles?


Most healthy people who develop shingles and get treatment quickly after an outbreak will experience a cessation of pain within 5 weeks and the blisters will leave no scars. Individuals at highest risk for complications are immunosuppressed individuals, e.g. - organ transplant recipients, HIV infected, and individuals receiving cancer treatments that weaken the immune system.1

The most common complication experienced from shingles, postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), resolves within a few weeks or months after infection. 2 PHN occurs after the rash disappears and is a persistent pain in the areas where the shingles rash appeared. In rare cases pain from PHN can interfere with daily life for many years. According to the CDC, the risk for PHN from a shingles infection increases with age and it is estimated that 13 percent of shingles cases in persons age 60 and older will experience PHN, while being rare in cases where persons are under the age of 40.3 

Other serious complications can involve the eye and result in loss of vision. Rare complications include pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation (encephalitis), and death.4 

IMPORTANT NOTE: NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Shingles and the Shingles vaccine by reading all sections in the Table of Contents , which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.

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1 NIH. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Shingles Information Page – Prognosis. Updated Jun. 27, 2018.

2 NIH. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Shingles Information Page – Prognosis. Updated Jun. 27, 2018.

3 CDC. Shingles Clinical Overview – Complications. Updated Feb. 21, 2018.

4 CDC. Shingles – Complications. Updated Jan. 19, 2018.

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