The Herpes Viruses Association

Welcome to the Shingles Support Society

The Shingles Support Society supplies information on shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN for short): what they are and how to treat them.

(These pages were reviewed on 21 November 2014.)


A vaccine for the prevention of shingles is available. From September, the vaccine (known as Zostavax®▼) will be provided to people who are 70, 78 or 79 years old on 1st September 2014, through their NHS GP, pharmacist or private healthcare provider.  We encourage anyone who is offered this vaccine to take it up.  Because it is a booster to your own antibodies, it is relatively side-effect free with only headache or soreness at the site of the injection reported. 

(On 1st September 2015, people who are then 71 or 80 will no longer be eligible - so ensure you get vaccinated while you qualify!) 

Public Health England has issued this statement:

"There will be a shingles vaccination programme introduced for people aged 70, with a catch-up programme for those aged up to, and including, 79 years. Shingles is an infection of a nerve that causes pain and a rash along a band of skin over the affected nerve.  The infection is caused by the herpes varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. Following chickenpox infection, the virus lies dormant in the nervous tissue but may reappear following reactivation as shingles. The programme will begin in September 2013 and it is estimated that around 800,000 people in the UK will be eligible for the vaccine in the first year."

If you consider yourself to be at especial risk, you could talk to your GP about your particular situation.

For people who have been affected by shingles pain, you can download the 'Guidelines for GPs' or to get a paper copy send a donation (at least £2.50 please) for the full 19 page information pack. This pack includes:

For the patient:
- two page introduction to shingles and PHN treatments,
- two pages of self-help advice from other sufferers,
- a two-page contact list of names/addresses of other people who'd like to share experiences of shingles,
- information on TENS with the details of manufacturers who'll refund your money if the TENS doesn't help you,
- and more...

For the GP (patients can take it to the surgery to show their doctors):
- five pages with details of amitriptyline, gabapentin, lidocaine plasters and capsaicin cream: the dosages, references and a treatment algorithm - provided by a pain consultant

You can also buy this information pack at our on-line shop.

People who are blind or partially sighted can receive these leaflets dictated onto a standard cassette: send a donation (at least £2.50 please) or phone 020 7607 9661 to order this with a credit or debit card.

Watch the NHS Choices video about shingles.

You can listen to our director Marian Nicholson explaining shingles and the pain on Pain Concern's website:  scroll down to 'Airing Pain podcast', number 46 and click on it to hear it.

Watch a video showing the experiences of people with neuropathic pain to help you understand PHN (with thanks to Understanding Neuropathic Pain by Jose Closs from the University of Leeds). 

 The Shingles Support Society website has been designed with an unrestricted educational grant from SanofiPasteur MSD.