Shingles – also known as herpes zoster – is a viral infection of the nerves, and the skin around it, according to the NHS.
The condition is caused by the same virus that instigates chicken pox; the varicella-zoster virus
Shingles symptoms can be very painful, and is most commonly linked to a characteristic rash.
People over 70 are most at-risk of developing shingles, but having the vaccine could slash your risk of becoming infected, it’s been revealed.
The UK introduced a shingles vaccine in 2013 for the very first time.
The first formal assessment of the vaccine’s effectiveness in people aged 71 to 79 has revealed a “marked” fall in shingles infection, according to researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Out of the 517,000 people tested, 21 per cent were vaccinated against shingles.
About three patients in every 1,000 became infected after they had the vaccine. That compares to about 9 in every 1,000 that didn’t have the vaccine.
“People should remember that once they turn 70 and 78 they can request the vaccine from their GP, as it’s the only effective way of protecting yourself,” said Public Health England’s Head of Immunisations, Mary Ramsay.
Ramsay told Express.co.uk: “People remain eligible to receive the vaccine until their 80th birthday.
“The risk of shingles increases with age and older adults are more likely to have complications from shingles such as severe pain that can last for several months even after the rash has disappeared.
“It is estimated that 50 deaths are caused by shingles every year.”
Shingles develops when the dormant chicken pox virus becomes re-activated in the body, so nearly everybody is at risk.
It’s not ‘caught’ from other people with chicken pox or shingles.
Symptoms include blisters and scabs, where the rash was initially located.
They may be joined by a constant or dull pain, which may turn into sharp, stabbing pains from time to time.
In some cases, patients may also experience headaches, burning, numbness, a fever, and a feeling of being generally unwell.
The condition typically lasts between two and four weeks.
See a GP if you think you may have shingles. Early treatment could help to reduce symptoms, and lower your risk of complications.