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1 in 5 shingles patients had pain for more than a month; illness can cost more than $300

Published on Jun 16, 2014 2:28 PM

SINGAPORE - About one in five patients with shingles, which leads to a skin rash with blisters, experienced pain for more than a month and the total economic burden of the illness could run up to more than $300 per patient.

These were just some findings of a new study based on 347 shingles patients from the National Skin Centre. About one in three adults who get chicken pox are at risk of developing shingles later in their life, said Dr Pan Jiun Yit, consultant dermatologist and lead investigator of the study.

Shingles occurs more frequently in those aged above 50 and is caused by a re-activation of the latent chicken pox virus when one's immunity is weak.

Most shingles patients spend about $125.50 on treatment at general practitioners, according to data from MSD, a pharmaceutical company. About a quarter of these sufferers go to the National Skin Centre for treatment due to complications, persistent symptoms or inconclusive diagnosis, Dr Pan said. Here, they spend about $190 on treatment and consultation. The patient's employer could also incur a cost of more than $100, due to work foregone when the patient is on medical leave.

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