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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:

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

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

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

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

References:

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.

Last reviewed May 2013 by Peter Lucas, MD; Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.