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Had shingles vaccine at base of spine and itchy spots appeared. Any thoughts?

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Age 60, 180 lbs. Itchy spots at base of spine. Area is hot like a fever but does not have a burning sensation, just major itch, and if apply a cold pack the itch calms down. Have had the Shingles vaccine. It is the only area. Some times they become blister like then scab over - 2 weeks period. Usually area is size of nickle when at its worst. Not painful just irritating.
Posted Thu, 18 Apr 2013 in Vaccinations
Answered by Dr. Ramesh M.Vachharajani 12 hours later

Thanks for posting query.

From your history it seems that this is side effect of Shingles vaccine only.
This vaccine is very safe but sometimes in sensitive person may give rise to some local reaction like redness, itching, swelling and irritation.
In your case this seems to be due to side effect of vaccine and chicken pox type of blister is formed.
Nothing to worry, this is quite harmless and will be alright within few days.
You can apply ice pack if require.

I hope, I answered your query.

If you have further query, please ask. I will be happy to answer.
Take care.
Dr. Ramesh M. Vachharajani.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Had shingles vaccine at base of spine and itchy spots appeared. Any thoughts? 13 hours later
Good morning Dr. Vachharajani,

Thank you for the prompt response.

Actually, this is not a result of the vaccine. I just got vaccinated yet I have dealt with this for a little over 10 years. Because I am turning 60 this year and have a family history (grandmother at time in 70's and a sister who actually got hospitalized with shingles at age 44) the doctor just vaccinated me at age 58 stating that they don't vaccinate anyone under 60.

So where it may be a case of actual Shingles, you are the doctor, I am not. I've had one doctor say it is and one Doctor say it is not. Neither prescribed anything w/ the exception of the "Not" Dr. saying use anti-bacterial soap (did that and no difference).

Seems to me to be related with getting a cold or becoming extremely stressed (which may spawn a 'Stress Cold', once again, I'm not a doctor. Another time to develop the spot is if I am doing a lot of sitting such as in a recliner or driving which provides a habitat of heat and rubbing/friction.

Thank the heavens it is ONLY in this location on my body and may only develop as 1 small blister or a group resulting in the size of a nickle. My first thought was ringworm but it is not a ring, it is a cluster and never more than 1 at a time. Then and actually now I think more of emphantigo however it does not spread, again thank the heavens). I even thought maybe it was related to a bad yeast infection at one time.

It is never painful as described with Shingles. It is just extemely itchy which I believe is the build up of the fluid developing into the blister(s). I don't feel the area as hot, yet it feels hot to the touch. I do not recall running a fever, even a low grade fever with the onset or during unless it is one of the times a cold comes along with it. I will have to pay more attention.

How do I handle it? If opportunity is available I use a cold pack, this seems to keep area from developing into the large nickle size spot. It also temporarily minimized the itchiness. Lately I will use the over the counter cortizone creme to minimize the itchiness. Note I live in Northern California, a dry and moderately temporate climate.

Also, I probably should, however, I rarely feel the need to go to the Doctors. I feel healthy enough and only go when there is an extreme need or time for a routine test, i.e. pap, mamogram.

I have grandchildren and just want to make sure this is not something contagious and pass on to them. Thus I am a firm believer of singing a song while we wash our hands and use papertowels to dry them.

Last thought is this is something bacterial/fungus related that when stressed, ones auto amune system just can't fight off. Maybe Shingles fits into that category, I don't know, I'm not a doctor.

Happy Easter to you and your family,

Answered by Dr. Ramesh M.Vachharajani 19 hours later

Thanks for Easter wish.

Thanks for posting query again.

There is some misunderstanding due to as you wrote Shingles vaccine had been given and it is only in that area. Thanks for the clarification. I will try better to answer you.

Now, there are 2 possibilities of having your problem.

1. As there is severe itching and of long duration, chance of having fungal infection is more likely. It is not necessary that there should be infection in ring form only.

2. Another possibility is of having contact dermatitis as this is the part remains continuous in contact either with bed or seat and so there is continuous friction leading to change of color of skin and itching.

In both the conditions due to itching and irritation, there is a chance of having bacterial infection leading to blister formation and soreness of the part.

Apply Triple action cream containing anti-fungal, antibiotic and steroid cream.
Take oral anti-fungal tablet like Flucanozole and antihistamine like Cetrizine. If there is marked infection then go for antibiotic medicine. Keep local part dry-clean and airy.
Lastly, this opinion is based on your history. Personal physical examination will give clear cut idea regarding the nature of lesion.

I hope, you will be satisfied with my answer.
If you got any doubt, please ask, I will try to explain better.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Had shingles vaccine at base of spine and itchy spots appeared. Any thoughts? 49 minutes later
Dear Dr. Vachharajani,

Thank for this most recent response. My apologies for the first communication and I see where it was mis-leading.

So what you say now, sounds much more logical and I will give this a try. I will also go ahead and schedule an appointment with a physician as I have a new lesion formed and he/she may have a look at least at stage 2 (blister). It would be so wonderful if they were proactive enough to pop it and grab a culture and figure out once and for all what this is.

Thank you again,

Kind regards,
Answered by Dr. Ramesh M.Vachharajani 10 hours later

Yes, the clinical examination will give us more clues to understand the nature of the lesion. The doctor can be able to easily confirm/exclude the possibility of contact dermatitis / fungal infection.

Till the get to see your dermatologist, I would suggest you to try Triple action cream. In addition oral antihistamine drugs can take care of the itch.

I wish you good luck. I will be glad to address your concerns should you have any.

If all your queries are answered, please close this discussion.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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