What you need to know about recurrent shingles

Some individuals are more likely to acquire shingles. With only a few exceptions, shingles can strike only once before the immune system forces the varicella zoster virus that is responsible for causing the shingles into a state of inactivity known as latency. Recurrent shingles occurs more than once. This form of shingles tends to differ in various key aspects from the shingles that only occurs once. You can learn ways to manage this condition if you will enroll in a first aid course today.

What are the risk factors?

Those who have immune system diseases such as AIDS, diseases that affect the immune system such as cancer and those who use drugs that suppress the immune system due to autoimmune diseases or organ transplant are more likely to develop recurrent shingles.

Recurrent shingles

Among healthy individuals, shingles usually causes a sore, blistering rash that is limited to one side of the body, usually within the area of a single nerve root.

Individuals who have Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or those who have undergone bone marrow transplant have a grim outlook. Take note that these individuals face a risk for developing progressive or disseminated shingles in which the disease attacks the skin and often the internal organs.

What are the causes?

Shingles can develop due to the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus which is responsible for causing chickenpox within the roots of the sensory nerves. Recurrent shingles can occur from deficits in cell-mediated immunity which is the same issue among those who have AIDS and oftentimes, the inability to produce adequate antibodies. These two processes are usually linked since the production of antibodies depends on the communication between the T-cells and B-cells of the immune system.

Time frame

Healthy individuals can develop shingles lesions over a period of 3-5 days. These lesions usually scab over 7-10 days. Those who have recurrent shingles often continue to develop fresh lesions for more than a week. The scabbing will not usually start until three weeks and full healing might never occur.


Among healthy individuals, shingles usually causes a sore, blistering rash that is limited to one side of the body, usually within the area of a single nerve root. Individuals who have recurrent shingles typically end up with more blisters, oftentimes distributed over several nerve roots. These lesions are strikingly similar to a severe burn and can become secondarily infected by bacteria.

What are the possible complications?

Some healthy individuals can develop a complication called as post-herpetic neuralgia which is characterized by constant pain even after the rash has diminished. Those who have recurrent shingles are more likely to develop post-herpetic neuralgia due to both repeated inflammation to the nerve and severe inflammation. Nevertheless, it can be hard to differentiate post-herpetic neuralgia from pain caused by an inactive episode of shingles once the episodes occur regularly.


Recurrent shingles is usually managed with antiviral medications such as famciclovir, acyclovir and valacyclovir. The individual is required to take the antiviral medications on a daily basis to prevent recurrence. Once outbreaks occur, the individual would require a higher dosage or several doses in a day to force the virus back into the state of remission. As for post-herpetic neuralgia, it requires several medications including antidepressants, local anesthetics, anticonvulsants and oftentimes narcotics.


There is a varicella zoster vaccine that is specifically administered among those who are at risk for shingles. The vaccine can help prevent shingles among those over 60 years old who have not already acquired the disease. Those who have immune system issues must consult a doctor if the vaccine is suitable for them since some do not respond to vaccines.


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