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Will My Shingles Come Back?

If you've had shingles once, you probably won’t get it again.

That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, it’s just unlikely. Also called herpes zoster, shingles can come back a second or, rarely, a third time. But you can take steps to help prevent it, or ease it the next time around.

Recommended Related to Shingles

Understanding Shingles -- Symptoms

The symptoms of shingles include: Pain or a bruised feeling -- usually on one side of your face or body -- often along with a fever, chills, headache, or upset stomach Tingling, itching, or prickling skin, followed several days later by a group of fluid-filled blisters on a red, inflamed base of skin Deep burning, searing, aching, or stabbing pain, which may occur once in a while or last a long time  

Read the Understanding Shingles -- Symptoms article > >

How Often Does Shingles Return?

Experts don't know exactly how many people get shingles more than once. They do know it comes back more often in people with weakened immune systems.

If your immune system is healthy:

  • Your short-term chances of getting shingles again are very low. One study of people over age 60 found that only 1% got shingles again within about 3 years. Having shingles once lowers your chances of getting it a second time, at least for a while.
  • Over time, your chances of a second bout go up. Another study found that within 7 years, the odds of getting it again may be almost 6% in people 22 and older. That's about the same as the odds of getting shingles the first time.

Who Is Most Likely to Get Shingles Again?

You're more likely to get it again if:

  • You had severe pain from shingles that lasted more than 30 days. This is called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).
  • You are a woman.
  • You were 50 or older when you had shingles the first time.
  • Your immune system is weak from conditions like leukemia, lymphoma, or HIV, or you take medicines that suppress your immune system.
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