Can You Get Shingles Twice?

Shingles are painful rashes that occur after the varicella-zoster virus reactivates in the body. The varicella-zoster virus is the virus that causes chickenpox, and later on, it remains dormant in the body. Often, shingles attack once, but on rare occasions, some people get shingles twice. Let us get to see in what situations someone can get shingles twice and how to prevent it.

What Causes Shingles To Appear the Second Time?

Everyone who has had chickenpox before is at high risk of getting shingles. The virus reactivates and travels to your skin, causing a painful rash. For some people, after using shingles ointment, the rashes dry off, then after sometimes the virus reactivates, and they get shingles the second time. The reason for the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus the second time is not well known. For someone to get shingles the second time, the virus has to reactivate again; you cannot contract herpes zoster from someone else.

5% of people who have had shingles before always have the second outbreak, and various people are at higher risk than others. In most people, when they get shingles the second time, the rash will appear the same place it appeared the first time. But some few people will have the shingle shift to another location. Even when shingles appear twice, the symptoms do not change. The patient will feel some burning sensation, itching, pain, and tingling at the place where the rash will occur.

Who Are at a High Risk of Getting Shingles Twice?

It is difficult to discern why the virus reactivates the second time after someone is healed by using shingles ointment. However, from research, most people who get herpes zoster twice have a weakened immune system. Here are some factors that may lead to recurrent shingles:

  • Stress: when stressed, your body releases cortisol hormone, and the hormone weakens your immune system. A lower immune system puts you at a high risk of getting herpes zoster twice.
  • Old age: people over 50 years are at a higher risk of getting shingles twice because they have weak immunity.
  • Chemotherapy: cancer patients undergo chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells. The medications cause strain to the immune system making it weak, thus, increasing their risk of getting shingles more than once.
  • People who have had an organ or bone marrow transplant: before some have an organ transplant, take a lot of medication to prepare the body to receive the foreign tissues. The medications might lower your immune system, therefore, shingles can easily reoccur.
  • HIV and AIDS: when suffering from HIV and AIDS, your immune system is always weak, thus, increasing the risk of getting herpes zoster twice.
  • Sex: women have weaker immune systems than men. A female who is over fifty can easily get shingles twice, compared to men of the same age.

Apart from having a weak immune system, additional factors may cause the reoccurrence of shingles. They include:

  • Severe pain during the first incident: for some people, the pain is mild, and they feel well after some days, but for others, the pain is severe, and they have to seek medication. If your first case of shingles was so painful and you had to get antiviral drugs and painkillers to heal, you are at high risk of getting shingles the second time.
  • If the rashes took more than 30 days: in most cases, the rashes burst and dry on their own. However, the rashes take so long to dry for other people, and they have to get the best ointment to put on shingles for it to dry out. When your rashes took more than 30 days to dry off, you are at high risk of getting herpes zoster again.

Treatment and Prevention of Shingles When You Get It Twice

When you get shingles the first time, you might heal without medication. However, once it reappears, you will have to seek medical attention. There are various best ointments to put on shingles that will help your rashes dry off. Also, the doctor might recommend some antiviral drugs and painkillers to make the shingles symptoms mild.

The preventive measure from shingles is getting the shingles vaccine. The shingles vaccine is given to you whether you have had shingles before or not. Also, if you have not had chickenpox before, then you can get the chickenpox vaccine. This is because you cannot get shingles unless you have had chickenpox before.


Getting shingles twice is very rare, but it happens. If you have a weak immune system, ensure you get the shingles vaccine to avoid an outbreak of shingles twice. Shingles might not be a deadly disease, but it causes discomfort. Therefore, it would be best to take the vaccine to protect you from getting the herpes zoster.

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