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Methotrexate and Shingles

Marti_142MMarti_142 Posts: 62
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:19 AM in Arthritis, Osteoarthritis
Have any of you Spineys on MTX ever had shingles? I have been home these last few days with a real itchy, painful rash on my back. Turns out, it is shingles. I guess it is a side effect of the MTX. It weakens the immune system, and this is one of the results. Ohter than the itch, I am very, very tired. So just wondering if any one else has had this and how long I can expext it to last. Marti


  • My niece has shingles which is viral. I don't think that it ever goes away. I think that the flareups come and go but there is no cure from shingles. Did you research it on the net? I thought that it was related to the chicken pox virus.
  • The way I understand it is if anyone ever had chicken pox, the virus stays dormant in you. When your body is under a great deal of stress, or the immune system is weakened, it comes back out as shingles. I think most of the time you get them when you are elderly. My mother got them once following heart bypass surgery.

    But this is why I am blaming the MTX. Because MTX weakens the immune system. That is how it works on auto-immune diseases, like RA. It slows down the immune system to keep it from attacking your own joints, organs, etc. I guess this is small set back, and a small price to pay if it is going to work on the arthritis.

    Actually, the anti-viral med must be working, 'cause I feel much better today. Thanks Painintheback for your reply.
  • Yes, you probably have a point there. That methotrexate is some nasty stuff but sometimes the only way that you can get relief. My niece is actually only 32 and she has it. She stays stressed all the time though.
  • From what I have witnessed observing some friends, Shingles are very nasty and drag on and on. All of us who ever had chicken pox harbor the virus in our system, and it can attack any time our immune system is compromised or as we get older. For the last couple of years there is a vaccine available that now is covered by most insurance companies, as even if it costs around $200, it is still cheeper than providing medical care for several months after somebody comes down with it. I had this vaccine and I am glad I did. I can recommend it for anyone who is seriously concerned getting shingles.

  • I did not know that. You would think that the docs would recommend it to every patient with a weak immune system.
  • I think if you have ever had it, the vacine doesn't work. This may be wrong, but just what I undestood. I intend to ask though, just in case. If I can get the vacine later, I surely will.

    Actually, this wasn't as bad as it could have been, mostly itch and nerve pain. It stayed under the surface of my skin and didn't break out into any blisters. Thank God! The anti-viral medicine really helped me. I only had a few days of being uncomfortable, as opposed to weeks. I am still very tired, though. (Feels like getting over the flu.)

    Thanks for all your responses. Marti
  • Once the shingles break out if you get to the MD within the first day the med will probably stop it from getting worse. Unfortunately it just has to run its course. You don't get the rash until you have actually had the shingles about 6 weeks. It starts at the nerves in the spine and it takes about 6 weeks to get to the nerve endings. You will always break out in the same place and it will only be on one side of your body.

    If you noticed it sort of felt like poison ivy but sort of stinging. Watch for the same feeling and get the meds as soon as you can. Try to keep the area cool and dry. Wear loose fitting clothes.

    I have had 3 outbreaks and I know the rash will stop spreading and start to dry up in about 2 days. I get a RX for an anti-virus, pain, and a strong antihistamine (forgot the name).

    Stress seems to cause outbreaks in some people.
  • Hi All, And thanks for the replies. I am still itchy, a litttle uncomfortable and tired. Still no blisters, but I can feel the nerve endings under my skin. Weird! The antihistamine is benedryl and it really does help the itch. I take it at night only 'cause it makes me very sleepy. Also, I take Neurotin for the nerve pain in my neck, and I think that has reduced the pain signficantly from the shingles. Because the pain my mom had from this was very bad. I believe you about the stress factor, but not sure how to control it. Hugs, Marti

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