Shingles - Prevention
Anyone who has had chickenpox may get shingles later in life. But there's a vaccine that may help prevent shingles or make it less painful if you do get it. The shingles vaccine (What is a PDF document?) is known as Zostavax. One dose is recommended for adults age 60 and older, whether or not they've had shingles before.
If you have never had chickenpox, you may avoid getting the virus that causes both chickenpox and later shingles by receiving the varicella vaccine.
One study showed that people who practiced tai chi exercises were protected against shingles about as well as people who got the shingles vaccine.9
If you have never had chickenpox, avoid contact with people who have shingles or chickenpox. Fluid from shingles blisters is contagious, and exposure to it can cause chickenpox (but not shingles) in people who have never had chickenpox.
If you develop shingles, avoid close contact with people until after the rash blisters heal. It is especially important to avoid contact with people who are at special risk from chickenpox or shingles, such as:
Pregnant women, infants, children, or anyone who has never had chickenpox.
Anyone who is currently ill.
Anyone with a weak immune system who is unable to fight infection (such as someone with HIV infection or diabetes).
One study reports that the virus that causes shingles may be released into the air from shingles sores. If you have active shingles, you may be able to prevent spreading the disease by covering the shingles sores with a type of dressing that absorbs fluids and protects the sore (hydrocolloid dressing, such as DuoDerm).2