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Talking to Your Doctor About Shingles

You have a personal heath history. Talk with your doctor about your risk factors and history with shingles. You can take an active role in your care by talking openly and often with your doctor.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips for talking with your doctor:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have someone else hear what is said and ask questions you might not have thought to ask.
  • Write your questions before you meet with your doctor so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get and make sure you understand what was said. Ask for things to be repeated, if needed.
  • Don't be afraid to talk about what is on your mind. Ask how you can learn more about what you are talking about. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor

About Shingles

  • Am I spread this to others?
  • What should I do so I don’t pass this to others?
  • Do I need to stay away from people who are ill?

About Your Risk of Getting Shingles

  • If I’ve never had chickenpox, do you think I should get the chickenpox vaccine?
  • Are there any other steps I can take so I don’t get shingles?
  • Should I get the vaccine that can lower my risk of getting shingles?
  • If I get shingles, could it mean that I have some other problem that has weakened my immune system?

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?
    • Might they interact with any other medicines, over the counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements that I’m taking for other health problems?
    • Do I need to worry about lightheadedness or drowsiness while I’m taking these medicines?
    • Are there any activities I should not do while taking these medications?
  • Are there any alternative or complementary treatments that might ease my symptoms or prevent me from having health problems?

About Your Outlook

  • If I get shingles on my face, what can I do to avoid getting an infection in my eye?
  • What signs indicating an eye infection should I look for?
  • How likely am I to suffer from problems from shingles, such as postherpetic neuralgia?
  • What treatments can you offer me if I do have problems?

Herpes zoster. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated February 19, 2018. Accessed July 16, 2018.

NINDS shingles information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: Updated June 27, 2018. Accessed July 16, 2018.

Shingles. The American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: Accessed July 16, 2018.

Shingles (herpes zoster). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated June 15, 2018. Accessed July 16, 2018.

Stankus SJ, Dlugopolski M, Packer D. Management of herpes zoster (shingles) and postherpetic neuralgia. Am Fam Physician. 2000;61(8):2437-2444.

Getting the most out of your doctor appointment. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: Updated January 19, 2018. Accessed June 16, 2018.

Last reviewed May 2018 by James Cornell, MD  Last Updated: 7/18/18