July 30, 2016

Shingles

What are risk factors for shingles?

Shingles can only occur in individuals who have previously been exposed to the varicella zoster virus. Risk factors for the development of shingles include the following:

  • Increasing age: Though shingles can rarely occur in children, it is much more common in older adults, increasing with age. This is thought to be in large part due to waning immunity as people age. Approximately 50% of all cases of shingles occur in adults 60 years of age or older.
  • Weakened immune system: Individuals with impaired immune systems have a higher probability of developing shingles. This can be seen in diseases such as cancer and HIV/AIDS, or in individuals taking certain medications. Patients taking steroids or other immunosuppressive medications, such as people who have undergone organ transplantation, and individuals with certain autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis) are at increased risk for developing shingles. Psychological and emotional stressors are also thought to possibly contribute to the development of shingles, perhaps from the detrimental effects of stress on the immune system. Continue Reading
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Reviewed on 5/18/2016