Shingles: the disorder can signal other illnesses in the body

Shingles, more commonly known as ‘shingles’, is a disease caused by the same varicella virus, varicella zoster, which can lie dormant in the body for years and reactivate when the patient’s immunity is compromised. For this reason, the appearance of the disorder can be a warning sign, since, together with the low defense capacity of the organism, it can signal more serious diseases, such as cancer.

“When she [herpes zóster] if it is expressed, the question must be answered: ‘is there something that is the provocateur or an underlying disease provocateur?’ The most dreaded is the neoplasm, a cancer. This may be an indication that we need to look for an underlying tumor”, explains Ênio Pedroso, professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the UFMG School of Medicine, podcast guest of the week “Health with science“.

However, low immunity can also have other associated factors, such as inflammation and even behavioral change.

“It can be related, for example, to mood swings, depression, anxiety, work pressure or the natural pressure of life. So it’s not necessarily a sign that you have a disease like cancer, but there may be others that you have to look for to discern if that’s the cause,” explains the professor.

If you notice shingles symptoms such as skin lesions, pain, tingling, burning, itching, fever, headache, and malaise, see a doctor.


Herpes zoster can be prevented with the specific vaccine for the disease. The most recent began to be applied in June this year in Brazil, Shingrix, recommended for immunocompromised people from the age of 18 and adults aged 50 and over.

However, the immunizing agent is not yet available in the Unified Health System (SUS). An alternative to prevent it is the varicella vaccine, since the disease is caused by the same herpes zoster virus. Unlike Shingrix, she is offered free to the public. According to Professor Ênio Pedroso, this immunizing agent is 98% effective.

“The Unified Health System is perhaps the most civic-minded institution for Brazilians, as it takes care of everyone’s health. Therefore, a vaccine should not be delivered only to one population group. Such an important instrument, which prevents the development of serious diseases, and if it is effective at this level, it is worth doing without it [para toda a população]“, he concludes.

Health with science

The radio show and the podcast Health with science discusses the causes, symptoms, forms of treatment and prevention of shingles.

O Health with science is produced by the Social Communication Center of the Faculty of Medicine of the UFMG and aims to inform and remove the doubts of the population on health issues. Listen on Rádio UFMG Educativa (104.5 FM) Monday through Friday at 5 a.m., 8 a.m., and 6 p.m. It is also possible to listen to the program via the streaming service. Spotify.

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