I thought shingles only happened
to people much older than me.

Then this rash showed up before my 53rd birthday ARE YOU AT RISK?
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There’s a story behind every shingles rash.


If you’re over 50, chances are higher that shingles could pause your story anytime.

Your risk for shingles increases as you age, no matter how healthy you feel. This is because your immune system weakens as you get older–especially after 50–making it easier for shingles to break through your defenses and surface as a painful, blistering rash that can temporarily upset your daily routine.

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1 in 3 people will get shingles during their lifetime

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The shingles virus is already inside 98% of adults in the United States

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Approximately 1 million new cases of shingles occur in the United States each year

woman in chair

The story of shingles begins with chickenpox.

By the time you reach 50, your experience with chickenpox is probably a distant memory.
But the virus that causes it never actually leaves your body. Instead, it stays dormant (asleep) in yourin your nervous system for many years. When you’re young, your immune system usually keeps the virus from reactivating (waking up).
But as you age, your immune system can weaken–especially after 50–allowing the virus to awaken and appear on your skin as shingles.


Anyone over 50 who has had chickenpox is at increased risk for shingles.

Tom in his 50s

Tom in his 50s

The next chapter in the shingles story can be painful.

For some people, there may be signs that shingles is coming. A few days before it appears, you may feel itching, tingling, burning, or pain in a specific area on one side of your body or face. When it erupts, shingles is a red rash of fluid-filled blisters, usually accompanied by deep, penetrating pain. There’s no way to predict if or when you will get shingles, or how severe your case could be.

I’ve been pretty well banged up, but the worst pain I’ve experienced was when I had shingles.

Steve Sinofsky, Retired Deputy U.S. Marshal

The pain associated with shingles can vary from person to person, ranging from mild to severe, stabbing pain, which may be constant or may come and go. People have described the pain as sharp, stabbing, shooting, burning, and throbbing.

woman by window

No two shingles stories are exactly the same.

Most often, shingles stretches along one side of the torso as a band from the middle of the back to the middle of the stomach. But it can appear anywhere on your body, including your chest, abdomen, leg, arm, neck, face, scalp, hand, or even around your eye. The blistering rash can last up to 30 days, and typically takes between two and four weeks to scab over and heal.

I had shingles and symptoms of shingles
for approximately one
month. So yes,
I was very grateful it wasn't longer.

Jan Meyer, Single Mom

The shingles story can take a more serious turn.

One in every four people who get shingles will experience one or more complications, which can potentially be serious. Discover the most common shingles complications below.

Discover shingles stories

Anyone who’s had shingles has their own story to tell. Explore these short videos and photos to get an idea of how shingles can temporarily impact your day-to-day experiences.


Ted’s Story:
Pain at the driving range

The shingles rash can stick around for a few weeks, and it’s often too painful to ignore and power through–no matter how healthy you are.

Shingles Blisters on the Neck blistering-poster-mobile

Shingles blisters
on the neck

The rash may begin as fluid-filled blisters similar to chickenpox.


Where does your
story go from here?

The next thing you should do is talk to your doctor or pharmacist about a vaccine that can help prevent shingles. You can prepare for that conversation by learning more now.

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