Don’t let shingles be your story.

Mr. Lee

The shots of pain would come every couple of minutes. And then you would just pray that it goes off quickly. It was like somebody was turning a screw into my skin.

Mr. Lee, 56 y.o.

Patient diagnosed with shingles

Ms. Chia

My mom had it about 10 years ago. She says the shingles pain remains even after all these years.

Ms. Chia, 49 y.o.

Carer of a patient diagnosed with shingles

Mr. Sulaiman

The pain was so intense, even when moving my mouth to chew something. I sincerely wish that nobody has to go through this kind of pain.

Mr. Sulaiman

Retelling of the shingles story of Mr. KT Ng, 83 y.o.

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5 MYTHS ABOUT SHINGLES REVEALED

Myth 1: Shingles is very rare

Fact: In Singapore, 9 in 10 adults ≥50 years old have been exposed to the chickenpox virus that causes shingles.1 This translates to 1 in 3 adults developing shingles in their lifetime2 and an estimated 30,000 new cases per year in Singapore.3,4 Find out more about who is at risk of shingles.

Myth 2: Shingles is not too bad because it’s just a rash

Fact: Shingles isn’t just a rash. It is an infectious disease that typically manifests as a band of blisters over the affected site.2 On top of these blisters, it is the pain that can make shingles excruciating – often described as the “worst pain ever experienced.”5 The pain can be severe enough to elicit feelings of helplessness, limit movement, cause disturbed sleep and work absenteeism.5-7

Shingles can also cause various short- and long-term complications such as persistent nerve pain at the affected site, vision impairment if it affects the eyes, skin scarring, secondary infection of the blisters and stroke.5

Find out more about the impact of shingles.

Myth 3: Shingles is adult chickenpox

Fact: Though shingles is caused by the same virus causing chickenpox, it is a completely different disease. Chickenpox is usually milder and more commonly affects children.8 Also, the blisters in chickenpox are spread all over the body.

Shingles which results from the reactivation of the chickenpox virus is often very painful.2,5 It affects the nerves of the affected area and can lead to a variety of short- and long-term complications, such as persistent nerve pain (post-herpetic neuralgia, PHN), that can last months to years.2,5 Read about shingles to find out more.

Myth 4: Shingles only affects the old

Fact: Although older individuals are at higher risk of getting shingles, anyone who has been exposed to the chickenpox virus is at risk.1,2 In Singapore, the National Skin Centre reported that approximately 1 in 4 adults with shingles were between 50-59 years old.7 In addition to age, read about the other risk factors for shingles.

Myth 5: Shingles can’t be prevented

Fact: Not true! Shingles is actually a vaccine-preventable disease and the US CDC recommends vaccination for adults ≥50 years old and for patients ≥19 years old who are immunocompromised.1,9

The Society of Infectious Disease of Singapore (SIDS) also recommends shingles vaccination for older adults.10 Learn more by reading about shingles prevention.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle (e.g. nutrient rich diets, regular exercise and abstinence from alcohol and smoking) and practising ways to reduce stress might also help prevent shingles by improving your immunity.11 However, the most effective prevention method against shingles is vaccination.

Speak to your doctor about shingles prevention.

  1. Fatha N, et al. Int J Infect Dis. 2014;22:73-77.
  2. Harpaz R et al. MMWR Recomm Rep 2008;57:1-30; quiz CE2-4.
  3. Kawai K, et al. BMJ Open. 2014;4:e004833.
  4. National Population and Talent Division, Strategy Group, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore Department of Statistics. Population in brief 2020. Available at: https://www.strategygroup.gov.sg/files/media-centre/publications/population-in-brief-2020.pdf. Accessed May 2022.
  5. Chen L-K, et al. BMC Infect Dis. 2017; 17:213. doi: 10.1186/s12879-017-2198-y.
  6. Goh C-L, Khoo L. Int J Dermatol. 1997; 36:667-672.
  7. Chen Q, et al. Dermatologica Sin. 2015;33(4):201-205.
  8. National Foundation for Infectious Disease. Shingles myths and facts. Available at: https://www.nfid.org/infectious-diseases/shingles-myths-and-facts-for-consumers/#:~:text=Myth%3A%20Shingles%20is%20the%20same,the%20chickenpox%20illness%20has%20disappeared. Accessed May 2022.
  9. Anderson TC et al. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep.2022;71:80-4.
  10. Society of Infectious Disease, Singapore; College of Family Physicians, Singapore. Handbook on adult vaccination in Singapore 2020.
  11. Verywellhealth.com. Shingles prevention. Available at: https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-effective-is-the-shingles-vaccine-2224167. Accessed June 2022.
  12. GSK is not responsible for third-party website content.
5 MYTHS ABOUT SHINGLES