Can COVID-19 Increase Your Risk of Shingles?

September 20, 2022


Catching COVID-19 may increase an older person's risk of developing shingles, a painful skin rash.

Researchers found that people 50 and older who had a COVID-19 infection were 15 percent more likely to develop shingles, compared to people who were never infected. That risk climbed to 21 percent in people hospitalized with a severe case of COVID-19.

According to Ernestine A. Wright, M.D., FACP, a primary care doctor with Mercy Personal Physicians Downtown, COVID-19 causes immune system dysfunction.

"With COVID-19 and shingles, if you had chickenpox as a child, the virus stays dormant in your nerve cells. When your immune system is disturbed or you're stressed, it gets activated, it gets to the skin, and you can contract shingles," Dr. Wright said.

Dr. Wright added that people should get vaccinated against COVID-19 and receive the shingles vaccine because this decreases the chance of getting shingles.

View Dr. Ernestine Wright's interview regarding COVID-19 and developing shingles.

About Mercy

Founded in 1874 in Downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed, acute care, university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a high-performing Maryland hospital (U.S. News & World Report); has achieved an overall 5-Star quality, safety, and patient experience rating (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services); is A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade); and is certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet™ hospital. Mercy Health Services is a not-for-profit health system and the parent company of Mercy Medical Center and Mercy Personal Physicians.

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