Caring for Shingles

How to care for a Patient with Shingles


If you are helping to care for someone with shingles and particularly if they are elderly, then here are some ideas to make life more comfortable for them:


Most cases of shingles outbreaks are over in about a month so with your care and attention, your patient’s life (as well as your own) can get back to normal in that time. Within one year of the rash, the majority of people will have very little or no pain at all.

The New Vaccine for Shingles and how it could help

In May 2006, the United States Food and Drug Administration registered a new vaccine which could prevent half of all the elderly (those people sixty years and older) from developing shingles and herpes zoster. This vaccine is not designed to prevent new infections of shingles but rather to prevent the re-emergence of an infection.  The FDA is confident that this vaccine will have a significant impact on what is a growing and painful disease in an increasingly aging population.

This new vaccine would help by boosting an older person’s immunity against the virus, thereby preventing the virus from emerging from its dormant state in the nervous system and causing shingles. The vaccine would not be recommended for those people whose immune systems had already been compromised such as those living with HIV/Aids or patients receiving immunosuppressant therapy.  Unfortunately, it would not be of help to those people who had already had an outbreak of shingles or who were presently suffering from shingles.

According to the Department of Neurology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Centre, the vaccine has been tested for ten years and shows a reduction in the incidence of shingles by fifty per cent. Since shingles affects millions of people each year, they feel the vaccine could offer a significant benefit.

The Nerve Injury Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital add their approval to the introduction of the vaccine by saying that it is a terrific advance, with major implications in preventing a serious, common, chronic pain condition. They feel the benefits are potentially enormous not only in lessening illness from shingles but also in preventing postherpetic neuralgia.