What Drugs Can Cause Shingles?


No medications directly cause an outbreak of shingles, as shingles is caused by infection with the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). However, some medications can increase an individual's chances of developing a shingles outbreak.


  • The root cause of shingles is infection with VZV, which causes chickenpox when a person is initially infected. After chickenpox, the virus goes dormant in some of the body's nerve cells, and it is not known exactly why outbreaks occur in individuals when they do.

Risk Factors

  • Two risk factors are known to contribute to the development of a shingles outbreak, according to the Mayo Clinic: advancing age and having a weakened immune system.


  • According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several medications and medical procedures that can weaken or suppress the immune system, including treatments for cancer (such as radiation and chemotherapy), long-term use of steroids and medications used to help an individual not reject a transplanted organ.

Shingles Vaccine

  • The shingles vaccine cannot directly cause a shingles outbreak, although some people do develop a mild rash as a result of vaccination, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


  • People who are on medications that suppress their immune system should ask their doctors about the possible risks associated with these medications.

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