Talking to Your Doctor About Shingles

You have your own health history. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors and background with shingles. By talking openly and often with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.

Tips for Getting Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier to talk to your doctor:

  • Bring someone with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask. They may also be able to give more details.
  • Write down your questions so do you do not forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get and make sure you understand what you are hearing.
  • Ask for help if you need it. Do not be afraid to ask questions or ask where you can find more information. You have a right to know.

Questions to Ask

About Shingles

  • Can I spread this to others?
  • What should I do so I do not pass this to others?
  • Do I need to stay away from people who are ill?

About Your Risk of Getting Shingles

  • If I have never had chickenpox, do you think I should get the chickenpox vaccine?
  • Are there any other steps I can take so I do not get shingles?
  • Should I get a shingles vaccine?

About Treatment Options

  • What can ease my pain?
  • What can help me recover faster?
  • What can help me prevent problems like postherpetic neuralgia?
  • About your medicines:
    • What are their benefits?
    • What are their side effects?
    • Will they interact with anything else I take such as:
      • Other medicines
      • Over the counter products
      • Dietary or herbal supplements
    • Do I need to worry about lightheadedness or drowsiness while I am taking these medicines?
    • Are there any activities I should not do while taking these medicines?
  • Are there any alternative or complementary treatments that might ease my symptoms or prevent me from having health problems?

About Outlook

  • If I get shingles on my face, what can I do to avoid getting an infection in my eye?
  • What sign of an eye infection should I look for?
  • Am I likely to have problems from shingles, such as postherpetic neuralgia?
  • What treatments can you offer me if I do have problems?
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References:

About shingles (herpes zoster). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/shingles/about/index.html. Accessed November 15, 2021.
Getting the most out of your doctor appointment. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/tips-for-talking-to-your-doctor/. Accessed November 15, 2021.
Herpes zoster. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/herpes-zoster. Accessed November 15, 2021.
Saguil A, Kane S, et al. Herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia: prevention and management. Am Fam Physician. 2017;96(10):656-663.
Shingles information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Shingles-Information-Page. Accessed November 15, 2021.
Shingles overview. The American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/shingles-overview. Accessed November 15, 2021.
Last reviewed November 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 11/15/21

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