COVID-19 and shingles are both viral infections. Though COVID-19 does not cause shingles, there may be a link between the two conditions.
COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease that a person can develop if they acquire the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Shingles is a common viral infection that a person
In this article, we will explain the links between COVID-19 and shingles. It also discusses the causes and risk factors for both conditions and outlines possible treatments.
All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub for the most recent information on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shingles occurs due to a different virus from COVID-19. This means COVID-19 does not directly cause shingles. However, there may be some links between COVID-19 and shingles.
A 2022 retrospective study compared 394,677 people over the age of 50 years who had contracted COVID-19 with those who had not yet had COVID-19. The study found that a COVID-19 diagnosis in people over 50 years old was associated with a significantly increased risk of developing shingles.
The study found that people aged 50 years or older with COVID-19 had a 15% higher risk of developing shingles than those without COVID-19.
If a person has had chickenpox, they
A person’s immune system prevents shingles from developing by continually tackling the VZV. Maintaining sufficient levels of VZV-specific T-cell immunity is important for suppressing shingles.
The study states that an infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus can result in T-cell immune dysfunction, which may trigger the latent VZV reactivation, causing shingles.
More research is necessary to determine whether there is a link between COVID-19 and shingles.
- Age: Older adults are at a
higher riskof worse outcomes if they develop COVID-19.
- Being immunocompromised: If a person has a weakened immune system, they are
more likelyto get sick with COVID-19 or be sick for a longer period. Common causes of a weakened immune system include:
- human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- medications that suppress the immune system
- certain cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy
- some cancers, such as leukemia or lymphoma
- Asthma: People with moderate to severe or uncontrolled asthma are
more likelyto require treatment in the hospital if they develop COVID-19.
- Pregnancy: If a person is pregnant or has recently been pregnant, they are
more likelyto get severely ill from COVID-19 compared with people who are not pregnant.
The VZV causes shingles. It can lay dormant in a person’s body after the initial infection and reactivate in the future, causing shingles to develop.
If a person already has the VZV inside their body, then factors such as age and a weakened immune system can increase their risk of developing shingles.
- getting rest
- drinking lots of fluids
- using over-the-counter (OTC) medications for fever
- using OTC medications for pain relief
- isolating from others, including those in the same house
If a person experiences severe symptoms of COVID-19, they may require treatment in a hospital. A doctor may decide to use antiviral medications. These medications
There are a number of steps a person can take to help prevent COVID-19. These
- staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations
- improving ventilation in the home and place of work
- spending more time outdoors
- avoiding contact with people who have COVID-19
- wearing masks or respirators in public
- avoiding crowded areas and keeping distance from other people
If a person’s shingles are itchy, they can use the following treatments to reduce itchiness:
- wet compresses
- calamine lotion
- colloidal oatmeal baths
A person can help prevent shingles by getting the shingles vaccine. The
If a person has shingles, they can reduce their risk of spreading it to others by:
- staying away from people who have not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine
- staying away from people who have a weakened immune system
- keeping their shingles rash covered
- avoiding touching or scratching their shingles rash
- washing their hands often
A person should speak with their doctor as soon as possible if they think they have shingles. The NIA states that it is important for a person to contact their doctor no later than
This is so the doctor can confirm the diagnosis and make a treatment plan. There is no cure for shingles, but if a person receives early treatment with antiviral medications, it may clear up their rash faster and limit pain.
If a person has COVID-19 and experiences severe symptoms, they should seek emergency medical care. Severe symptoms
- trouble breathing
- persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- new confusion
- the inability to wake or stay awake
- skin, lips, or nail beds that are:
COVID-19 and shingles are both viral infections. COVID-19 occurs due to an infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Shingles occurs due to an infection with the VZV.
COVID-19 does not directly cause shingles, but there may be a link between the two conditions. Studies suggest that having COVID-19 may increase a person’s risk of developing shingles, due to how the SARS-CoV-2 virus may affect the immune system.