The only real way to prevent shingles and long-term pain associated with post-herpetic neuralgia is by getting the shingles vaccine. The shingles vaccine is FDA approved for adults over the age of 50; however, the CDC currently recommends the vaccine for adults over the age of 60. Patients between the ages of 50-59 should discuss the risks and benefits of the shingles vaccine with their primary care doctor.
In the Shingles Prevention Study, it was found that the shingles vaccine significantly reduced the incidence of shingles in patients aged 60 years and older. In patients who developed shingles despite receiving the vaccine, the pain was far less severe and the rash was milder. In certain instances, even patients who have had shingles in the past may consider receiving the vaccine to decrease the chance of developing shingles again. It is unknown how long protection from the shingles vaccine will last when given after the age of 60. The protection is thought to decrease within the first 5 years after vaccination.
The shingles vaccine is not currently offered at Village Dermatology in Houston. Please see your primary care physician to discuss whether the shingles vaccine is appropriate for you.