What you can do to protect yourself as shingles increases among all age groups

Posted at 1:25 PM, Sep 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-25 23:33:11-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - "The pain is pretty remarkable."

Janet Gwaltney said she has suffered from shingles, a viral infection that causes a painful rash.

She's had it three times in the last 15 years.

"I could not take my brain off of how much I was hurting. That's when I knew something was really really wrong," Gwaltney said.

Three months ago she had it across her face, and according to the CDC she is not alone. They have reported more shingles cases among adults.

Shingles is the same virus responsible for chicken pox. Dr. Ryan Light with the Tidewater Physicians Multispecialty Group said, "The CDC has been tracking [shingles] for the last 15, 20 years. They were saying it's increasing in all age groups, so it's not just the elderly that seeing an increase."

One reason for this could be more people reporting, but the definite reason for the increase remains a mystery.

"I think the consensus is that we really don't know why that is the case with increases in shingles cases," EVMS Physician John Snellings said.

The CDC said your chances of getting shingles goes up as you get older and that it's rare in children. However, experts say children who get the chicken pox vaccine appear to have a lower risk of getting shingles in their lifetime.

"Make sure your child is getting vaccinated prior to going back to school," Dr. Light said.

The CDC recommends people over the age of 60 get a shingles vaccine. Years ago Janet says she was skeptical of it, but after experiencing shingles three times she has now signed up for it.

Click here for more information about shingles.