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How many times can you get shingles?

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, which you may have experienced as a child already. After having chickenpox, the virus lays dormant in your body and for most people stays that way.

But for some, the virus is reactivated as shingles, causing an intensely painful skin rash that typically occurs on one side of your body.

If you’ve had shingles before, you may be worried about getting it again. 

Can I get shingles twice?

Though most people with shingles only experience it once, it is possible for the virus to reactivate multiple times. 

However, the chance of this happening is significantly lower in comparison to the initial infection. 

Your chances of reactivating the virus again are increased by having a weakened immune system, which can be caused by:

  • Having high levels of stress 
  • Other illnesses and conditions
  • Receiving treatments like chemotherapy

Frequently asked questions about shingles

Can you get shingles more than once?

Yes, you can. The varicella-zoster virus can reactivate due to stress, illness or certain treatments, causing the shingles rash to reappear.

How common is it to get shingles more than once?

Getting shingles more than once is rare but possible. Your risk decreases with age. Vaccination can lower the likelihood of the virus reactivating.

What reduces the risk of getting shingles again?

Getting your shingles vaccination is key. The shingles vaccine can significantly lower the risk of shingles coming back again.

A close up image of a shingles rash, that could be mistaken for another condition

Think you might have shingles?

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What is Pharmacy First?

Pharmacy First is a new NHS-funded scheme that helps you quickly get the advice & treatment you need from a pharmacy, without needing to see a GP.

The conditions covered by Pharmacy First are:

Video consultations & advice are free of charge. If you pay for prescriptions you will be charged the prescription rate of £9.65 per prescription item.