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What increases my risk for shingles?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
You have an increased risk for shingles if either of the following applies to you:
  • You're over 40. Shingles typically strikes middle-aged and older adults. The risk rises significantly after you turn 60.
  • Your immune system is weakened. The immune system defends your body against germs such as the virus that causes shingles. If you have cancer, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or certain other diseases, your body may be less able to guard against this virus. Also, some common drugs, such as prednisone, weaken the immune system. 
Also, if a pregnant woman develops chickenpox close to her delivery date, her child has an increased risk for developing pediatric shingles. The same is true if the child develops chickenpox in infancy.

Consult with your doctor about the factors that may increase your risk for developing shingles. 

The biggest risk factor for shingles is having had chickenpox. Since shingles is caused by the reactivation of the virus that's left in your body after chickenpox, anyone who's had chickenpox may develop shingles later in life. Being older also increases your risk for shingles - although people of any age can develop shingles, it's most common among people older than 50. If you have a weakened immune system for any reason, such as AIDS, cancer, or immunosuppressant drugs, you may be at an increased risk for developing shingles.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.