What Drugs Can Cause Shingles?

By Erik Steel

No medications directly cause an outbreak of shingles, as shingles is caused by infection with the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). However, some medications can increase an individual's chances of developing a shingles outbreak.

No medications directly cause an outbreak of shingles, as shingles is caused by infection with the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). However, some medications can increase an individual's chances of developing a shingles outbreak.

Identification

The root cause of shingles is infection with VZV, which causes chickenpox when a person is initially infected. After chickenpox, the virus goes dormant in some of the body's nerve cells, and it is not known exactly why outbreaks occur in indivudals when they do.

Risk Factors

Two risk factors are known to contribute to the development of a shingles outbreak: advancing age and having a weakened immune system, according to the Mayo Clinic. There are several medications that can weaken the immune system.

Types

Medications that suppress the immune system include treatments for cancer, including radiation and chemotherapy, long-term use of steroids and medications used to help an individual not reject a transplanted organ, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Effects

The shingles vaccine cannot directly cause a shingles outbreak, although some people do develop a mild rash as a result of vaccination, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Considerations

People who are on medications that suppress their immune system should ask their doctors about the possible risks associated with these medications.

References

About the Author

Erik Steel is a graduate of the University of Michigan, earning his bachelor's degree in Russian. Steel has worked as writer for more than four years and has contributed content to eHow and Pluck on Demand. His work recently appeared in the literary journal "Arsenic Lobster."

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