Health Information

Risk Factors for Shingles

You can only get shingles if you already had chickenpox and the dormant virus from the chickenpox infection becomes reactivated. Since only 20% of people who have had chickenpox develop shingles, researchers are still trying to determine what makes some people more likely to develop shingles than others.

Some of the factors that make people more likely to develop shingles include:

Conditions

If you have a weakened immune system, you are more likely to develop shingles. Conditions that increase your risk include:

Medications and Procedures

Certain procedures and medicines may increase your risk, such as:

Age

People over age 60 are more likely to develop shingles than younger people.

Ethnic Background

Caucasian people are more likely than African Americans to develop shingles.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: David Horn, MD
  • Review Date: 05/2014 -
  • Update Date: 05/28/2014 -
  • Shingles. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 20, 2012. Accessed September 7, 2012.

  • Shingles. American Academy of Family Physicians' FamilyDoctor.org website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/shingles.html. Updated January 2011. Accessed May 30, 2013.

  • Shingles (herpes zoster). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/shingles/about/overview.html. Updated January 10, 2011. Accessed September 7, 2012.

  • 6/9/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Forbes H, Bhaskaran K, et al. Quantification of risk factors for herpes zoster: population based case-control study. BMJ 2014;348.