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If you have ever had chickenpox, or been vaccinated for it, you are at risk for getting shingles – a painful, blistering rash. This is because after the chickenpox clears, the virus stays in the body. If the virus reactivates, or wakes up, you could get shingles.
Although shingles is much less contagious and itchy than chickenpox, it tends to cause more pain. In addition, although the shingles rash usually clears in a few weeks, some people can experience pain, numbness, itching and tingling that can last months or even years.
According to dermatologists from the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), common signs and symptoms of shingles include:
To help relieve shingles pain and discomfort, the Academy recommends the following tips:
If you suspect you have shingles, avoid contact with women who are pregnant and anyone who has not had chickenpox or has not been vaccinated, and see a board-certified dermatologist right away.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one million Americans experience shingles each year, and the disease is most common in older adults. A vaccine, which can help prevent shingles, is available to people ages 50 and older, and it is recommended by dermatologists.