John Wood speaks out about his battle with shingles

John Wood is one of Australia’s most widely loved actors. But the Gold Logie winner hasn’t always led such a

John Wood is one of Australia’s most widely loved actors. But the Gold Logie winner hasn’t always led such a charmed life: he has endured the excruciating pain of shingles not once, but twice.

“The first time I had shingles as a teenager, which is very rare,” he said.

“The pain was so debilitating I was bedridden for 13 weeks and dropped out of school as a result”.

Shingles is most often recognised as a painful rash or series of blisters, isolated to one side of the body.

However, it’s far more than “just a rash”; up to 50% of sufferers over 50 will go on to experience the nerve pain known as post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).1

“You never forget the pain,” said John. “That was my greatest worry when I got shingles again, while filming Blue Heelers in my fifties”.

John, now eager to ensure nobody else has to endure the same agony he did, has some powerful advice for those of us over 60: talk to your doctor.

Shingles can have a devastating impact on quality of life, especially if left unchecked.

Shingles – caused when the chickenpox virus reactivates later in life – affects roughly one in every three adults.2 A staggering 97% of people have been exposed to this virus, meaning the majority of the population is at risk.3

This often-debilitating condition can be extremely difficult to treat, lasting up to 3.5 years4, which can severely affect the sufferer’s quality of life.3

“I want to make sure that those at highest risk – people over 60 – know about the potential pain and suffering that shingles can cause and have a conversation with their doctor about their risk”.

Take the first step today – click below to learn more:


Now John, with the support of Chronic Pain Australia, is lending his voice to a new awareness campaign for over 60s.

Don’t Shhh Shingles encourages Australians over 60s to take that small but vital step: next time you see your doctor, simply ask about it.

Worryingly, although 73 per cent of those surveyed were concerned about the impact shingles could have on their life, three out of four have never discussed it with their doctor, and only 4 per cent consider themselves at high risk.5

“There is still a low level of understanding of shingles risk among older Australians,” says John Litt, Associate Professor of General Practice at Flinders University.

“Shingles can often present itself with vague symptoms such as mild to severe pain in a particular area, or a rash on part of the body. People may dismiss these symptoms as minor or temporary until it is too late to treat, and nerve damage begins before the rash appears”.

“Older Australians need to be better informed about their risk of shingles by speaking with their doctor”.

For more information, visit or talk to your doctor.

Have you (or somebody you know) suffered from shingles? If not: have you prepared yourself for the possibility? Have you spoken with your doctor about your own level of risk?


This post is sponsored by bioCSL in support of the “Don’t Shhh Shingles” public health education campaign. It was written as we feel it delivers valuable insights into a subject important to the Starts at 60 community.

For more information, please visit


  1. Zostavax® Product Information
  2. Harpaz R et al. 2008. Prevention of Herpes Zoster Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMRW; 57 (RR-5):1-30.
  3. Stein AN et al. 2009. Herpes zoster burden of illness and health care resource utilisation in the Australian population aged 50 years and older. Vaccine;27:520-529
  4. Serpell et al. 2014. Burden of post-herpetic neuralgia in a sample of UK residents aged 50 years or older: findings from the zoster quality of life (ZQOL) study. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2014, 12:92 [Online] Available at:, last accessed 8 October 2015
  5. Galaxy Research. 2015. Shingles Study.
  1. Have had shingles twice, need to get to the doctor asap, for medication. If caught early the side effects can be mitigated,

  2. A friend of mine had shingles on the face, she was a mess, I learned then that if you have had chicken pox and Measles in childhood, you can get shingles, there is a shot you can get but it may or may not work to prevent it and it is expensive

    • I thought it was the other way around if you had chicken pox you would probably not get shingles.

    • I had shingles on my back and down my left leg 7 years ago after my husband and father both died.. I have never had chicken pox..

    • Had Shingles for 12 weeks , felt like I was loosing the plot . Nerve pain leaves childbirth pain behind ! Been left with nerve damage on shoulder . Could not remember having Chicken Pox , could have been exposed to the virus without actually having the C P symptoms !

  3. The post herpatic nerve pain is excrutiating. I know as I had it over the eye, and I was lucky I did not lose my sight.

  4. I had temporal shingles. Symptoms started to appear Good Friday and I didn’t see a doctor until the Tuesday. Too late for anti=viral drip. Extremely painful and dangerous. Do whatever you can to avoid shingles!

    • I am still recovering from shingles which was on my face, mainly my nose, headaches were like being stabbed repeatedly every 9 sec I would get it and your body would jump, now I am extremely itchy and feel like I want to cut my nose off. Very painful. The new vaccine is around $200 which helps with pain if you get it again. Wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy

  5. Need to get to a Dr within 72 hrs. Helps relieve symptoms. I still suffered. My son had it at 7 yrs of age.

    • Yes I got to the doc in time on the 3 occassions I had it – still painful but stops the nerve pain that can last a lifetime.

  6. Someone said “It’s a nerve thing isn’t it”, as in depression. No it is like when the dentist hits a nerve, but covering all of the effected area, and it can be like that for a year. I can cuddle my husband if I’m firm, but a light touch creates so much pain. The sheets on his body hurt, a fluffy coat hurts, everything hurts.

  7. I think if you get help before 72 hours they can give you something. I had it on my lower back more to the right. Does it hurt 😩

  8. Get the injection. Available now. Cost around 250 dollars in Australia. Free to seniors in the USA. Free to 70 year olds in the UK. Worthwhile. Can save you three years of nerve pain!

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