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Shingles after Chemo

Posts: 579
Joined: Dec 2010

Finished chemo three month nearly, now have shingles. Thinking due to low immune system. Wondered if anyone else had the same problem. Kind of makes sense to me, though I have had it before due to stress. Oh, I forgot chemo IS stressful, ha. Any comments welcome.

Plus hair is short and thick but not growing as fast as I would have thought. Four months on, hoping a couple more will enable me to shed the hats. Realize everyone is different. Someone mentioned that new chemo hair cannot be tinted or dyed which is news to me, again any comments welcome as I am now showing a pile of gray, which I quite like but may change my mind later.

CypressCynthia's picture
Posts: 4014
Joined: Oct 2009

I had shingles right before I was diagnosed in 2009. There are many stressors that can cause a shingles outbreak including chemo, stress, cancer, broken bones, etc. The most important thing about shingles is to catch it EARLY. The sooner that you get on valtrex, the less likely you are to experience postherpetic neuralgia.

I was so, so lucky as my only symptom initially was a weird sensation on my thigh that felt like it was chapped or slapped. But it was only on the one thigh. I called my physician sister and she said to take valtrex stat and I did. The next day, I broke out in the classic shingles rash, but I never had severe pain or any problems.

Guess I should thank my sis as she was right (for once)...lol.

Here are the symptoms of the prodromal ((before the rash appears) stage of shingles:
"Pain, burning, tickling, tingling, and/or numbness occurs in the area around the affected nerves several days or weeks before a rash appears. The discomfort usually occurs on the chest or back, but it may occur on the belly, head, face, neck, or one arm or leg.
Flu-like symptoms (usually without a fever), such as chills, stomachache, or diarrhea, may develop just before or along with the start of the rash.
Swelling and tenderness of the lymph nodes may occur."

"Call your doctor today if:

You suspect you might have shingles. There are medicines that can limit your pain and rash. The earlier you start treatment for shingles, the better the results."

Double Whammy's picture
Double Whammy
Posts: 2805
Joined: Jun 2010

Once before bc and once after? I worried about getting it again (had it in 2005) because I knew you could get it more than once, but didn't worry too much and luckily did not get another dose of it.

My shingles started on my left side around my waist and traveled down my left leg. I had pain that I thought was sciatica prior to the rash, then the rash. We were visiting our kids in Las Vegas. I just KNEW it was shingles and went to urgent care. Doctor said it was not shingles, it was an allergic reaction to something I ate and put me on prednisone. I said, "but, but, it's only on one side and these were my symptoms and look at the pustules. . ". He was rude and brushed me off, but his diagnosis never felt right to me. But he had all the medical education and training and had seen a lot of rashes, so I beleived him. Well, the prednisone made the rash worse. When I got home 4 days later, I went to the doctor here who said it was classic shingles and prednisone was about the worst thing I could be taking. Swell. Like CC, I was lucky and had very little pain or problems, mostly just an impressive rash and a little pain and itching. Valtrex made me throw up, but it was probably too late for it anyway.

Hope you're doing well and never see it again. I'm certainly not interested in another bout.


CypressCynthia's picture
Posts: 4014
Joined: Oct 2009

I have had other friends who have had it more than once. Another friend told me that she gets the sensations from time to time, but has not had another fullblown outbreak.

I had a flare of the same sensations, same thigh a week before my scheduled back surgery in 2009, but no rash. I was put on valtrex and told that I would have to reschedule the surgery if a rash appeared, but it never happened, thank goodness.

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