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Skin Care and Diseases

Does shingles recur often or not?

04/10/2007

Question:

I have read more than once that shingles rarely reoccurs and that the chances are less than 5%. Yet, I have also heard people say that they`ve had it several times. In your practice, has it been your experience that someone rarely gets it again, or that once the virus is reactivated, the person is likely to get it again? I`m confused. Thanks

Answer:

This question has been forwarded by Senior Health:

It is rare that shingles recurs. It may recur in those who are immunocompromised, those who had an episode of shingles early in life (it may recur later in life), or in other rare circumstances. I have yet to confirm a diagnosis of recurrent shingles in my outpatient practice, although i have seen it in the inpatient hospital setting on rare occasions.

Recurrent herpes (HSV) infection is frequently misdiagnosed as recurrent shingles. Often, the person has recurrent herpes on the buttock, face, abdomen, thighs or genital areas that gets misdiagnosed. Because both conditions are viral infections, they can be easily confused. The difference is that recurrent HSV is usually more localized and resolves on its own within 10-14 days.

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Response by:

Pranav   Sheth, MD Pranav Sheth, MD
Formerly:
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati