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Shingles (Shingrix vaccination)


Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a contagious viral diseases that characterizes through formation of a rash with painful blisters on one side of the body. Shingles often affects one arm or leg or one side of the face, back or chest.

The disease proceeds in phases. In the beginning an annoying feeling arises at the spot where later blisters will arise. This can be painful but it could also be a tingling, itchy or burning feeling. A couple days later red little blisters will arise. These blisters are filled with fluid and can be very painful and itchy. After about 7 to 10 days the blisters will dry in leaving scabs. There is also the possibility that a week after the first blisters arise new blisters can arise. In some cases there are no blisters at all and only pain and itching. Shingles in the face can also cause an inflamed eye.

Shingles (Shingrix vaccination)

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a contagious viral diseases that characterizes through formation of a rash with painful blisters on one side of the body. Shingles often affects one arm or leg or one side of the face, back or chest.

The disease proceeds in phases. In the beginning an annoying feeling arises at the spot where later blisters will arise. This can be painful but it could also be a tingling, itchy or burning feeling. A couple days later red little blisters will arise. These blisters are filled with fluid and can be very painful and itchy. After about 7 to 10 days the blisters will dry in leaving scabs. There is also the possibility that a week after the first blisters arise new blisters can arise. In some cases there are no blisters at all and only pain and itching. Shingles in the face can also cause an inflamed eye.

After the blisters disappear there may be (severe) pain in the affected area for a longer period of time. A condition called postherpetic neuralgia, also known as nerve pain after shingles. The nerve pain is caused by inflammation of the sensory nerves.

What are the causes of shingles
The main cause of shingles is the chickenpox virus. Once someone has had the chickenpox, then the virus will stay in an inactive form in the body. Eventually the virus can still become active. This usually happens when someone has a reduced immune system. A reduced immune system can have different causes, of which:

- Lack of sleep
- Long lasting stress
- Unhealthy diet
- Medication, including chemotherapy and prednisone
- Congenital immune disorders
- Infections immune disorders, including AIDS
- Auto immune diseases


A reduced immune system is not the only factor causing shingles. When someone is older than sixty the risk of getting shingles increases. Not only is the risk higher but also the symptoms are generally worse. Also someone who has had shingles in the past has a higher chance of getting it again.

In the case that you’ve never had the chickenpox you can still get infected with shingles when you get in contact with someone who is infected with the shingles. Infection occurs because of contact with the blisters than can arise because of the virus. The blisters are contagious until they have dried in.
Somebody who gets infected with the virus, but hasn’t had shingles before, will first get the chickenpox. Shingles can’t occur when a person hasn’t had the chickenpox virus first. After going through the chickenpox, the shingles virus is inactive in the body just like with persons who had the chickenpox as a child. From that moment on it is possible to get shingles.

Treatment of shingles
The treatment of shingles is mainly focused on reducing the itching and pain sensations. In most cases the disease will pass by itself. You can reduce the complaints by applying ointment on the blisters, like zinc ointment or a neutral ointment. To treat the pain you can use paracetamol. Rather not use any other painkillers without consulting a doctor. Some painkillers, like ibuprofen, can cause serious side effects with shingles.

When there is severe pain the GP can prescribe stronger painkillers. In some cases the GP can also prescribe antiviral medication. This only happens when:

- The shingles is in the face
- The shingles doesn’t pass by itself
- There is a low immune system
- There is an older age

Antivirals are prescribed for facial shingles to prevent damage to the eye.

Treatment of nerve pain after shingles
You can first try to treat the nerve pain, which can persist after shingles, yourself with paracetamol. If this doesn’t help and the pain is prolonged or unbearable, then the GP can prescribe stronger painkillers. When this also doesn’t help your GP can refer you to a pain outpatient clinic. Here the pain can be treated with band aids containing numbing substances, injections, medication that are guided directly into the spinal cord or an injection that blocks the nerves so that there are no pain signals anymore.

Prevention of shingles
There is a vaccine available for people over 50 years old that helps to prevent the shingles and nerve pain after shingles. This vaccine, called Shingrix, is specifically designed for people who have had the chickenpox. The vaccine contains proteins that are on the surface of the shingles virus. The vaccine also contains a number of substances that will increase the reaction on the virus by your own immune system.

The chances on the development of shingles are significantly reduced after the vaccination. This is because the body can react and make antibodies against the virus faster. Clinical research shows that Shingrix has achieved 90% effectiveness in preventing shingles in people over the age of 50. In many countries Shingrix is widely given to people over 60 years old. There are very good experiences with this vaccine.
The vaccination for shingles consists out of two shots. After the first shot and second shot there is an interim of 2 months. This can also be more than 2 months. As long as it’s given within 6 months after the first shot.

Shingrix was until recently not available in the Netherlands. But Shingrix is registered in the Netherlands. The Shingrix vaccinations that the Vaccinationcentre offers originate from Germany or the United Kingdom. The costs of the vaccination are on own account. Vaccination with Shingrix consists out of two doses. The second dose follows up to 6 months after the first.
You can find more information about this at the website of the RIVM

If you would like to make an appointment you can call us from Monday till Friday between 08:30 AM and 16:00 PM on 085- 902 03 03.
 
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