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Best Treatment For Shingles In Elderly

How Do You Get Rid Of Shingles

New treatment for the pain of shingles

Both shingles and chickenpox are caused by the varicella-zoster virus. You cant get shingles unless youve already had chickenpox. Theres no cure for shingles, but there are treatments to manage its symptoms. Vaccines are available to help prevent shingles and the long-lasting nerve pain that sometimes develops.

How Do Caregivers Help Seniors Manage Shingles

Antiviral medication is the first line of defense for seniors suffering from an outbreak of shingles. Antiviral medications include three types: acyclovir , valacyclovir , and famciclovir.

Seniors who experience mild pain from shingles may take over-the-counter drugs, like Tylenol or Advil. Serious pain may require corticosteroids or opioid pain relievers these pain medications should be weighed carefully, since they can interact adversely with medicines the senior currently takes.

Aside from medicine, aging adults will feel relief from wearing loose-fitting clothing. Natural fiber clothes are recommended. Itchy skin may be relieved by applying calamine lotion. Caregivers might also prepare an oatmeal bath for the care recipient as a soothing remedy.

The affected skin should be kept clean. Apply a cool washcloth to the seniors skin to reduce pain the cloth may also be used to dry the blisters. Caregivers should monitor the senior so that she does not scratch the blisters, which can lead to an infection or scarring.

Pain management strategies also include relaxation and adequate rest. Caregivers might encourage activities that distract the senior from her shingles pain, such as watching TV, reading, chatting with a companion caregiver, engaging in craftwork, or working in the backyard garden.

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How Is Shingles Treated

There is no cure for shingles, but antiviral medicine may relieve the symptoms and help prevent complications. See your doctor for a prescription of antiviral medicines as soon as possible after symptoms develop. Treatment should be started within 3 days of the shingles rash appearing.

If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about whether antivirals are right for you.

Over-the counter medicines, such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, can be used for pain relief. If over-the-counter medicines are not controlling your pain, your doctor may prescribe other medicines.

There are several things you can do to help manage the condition. They include the following.

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Does Medicare Pay For The Shingles Vaccine

Part A and Part B dont cover the shingles vaccine. However, Part D will cover the shingles shot, as well as all other commercially available vaccines. Medicare Supplement plans will help fill in the gaps in coverage while under the care of your doctor.

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Part D plans do not cost much they range from anywhere between $13-$76 a month.

Common Questions About Shingles

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What triggers a shingles outbreak? Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash that can be caused by the varicella zoster virus . The virus is spread through saliva and sweat and can be caused by chickenpox. It can also be caused by reactivation of the VZV infection after a long period of dormancy. There is no cure for shingles, but treatment focuses on relieving pain and providing support to the affected area.

Are your shingles contagious? If youâve ever had shingles, you may be wondering if youâre contagious. Itâs important to know that there is no definitive answer, but itâs possible for shingles to spread from one person to another. There are a few things that can increase your risk of spreading shingles: having close contact with someone who has the virus being pregnant having a weakened immune system and having other chronic medical conditions. If youâre concerned that you may have contracted shingles, itâs important to see your doctor for an evaluation.

How does a person get shingles? A person can get shingles from either chickenpox or herpes simplex virus . The virus attacks the nerve cells in your skin and spinal cord. The pain, inflammation, and blisters that result are called shingles. Although it is rare, a person can also get shingles from a dental procedure or an injury to the skin.

What is the most painful stage of shingles? The most painful stage of shingles is when the rash starts to blister.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles

Usually, shingles develops on just one side of the body or face, and in a small area. The most common place for shingles to occur is in a band around one side of the waistline.

Most people with shingles have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Fluid-filled blisters
  • Tingling, itching, or numbness of the skin
  • Chills, fever, headache, or upset stomach

For some people, the symptoms of shingles are mild. They might just have some itching. For others, shingles can cause intense pain that can be felt from the gentlest touch or breeze. Its important to talk with your doctor if you notice any shingles symptoms.

If you notice blisters on your face, see your doctor right away because this is an urgent problem. Blisters near or in the eye can cause lasting eye damage and blindness. Hearing loss, a brief paralysis of the face, or, very rarely, inflammation of the brain can also occur.

When Should I See My Doctor

See your doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing any symptoms of shingles. Starting treatment with antiviral medicines within 3 days of the rash appearing should reduce the severity of symptoms and the risk of further complications, including post-herpetic neuralgia.

See your doctor straight away if you have symptoms of shingles and are experiencing the following:

  • symptoms that affect your eye area
  • a temperature of 38°C or higher

You should also see your doctor if you are pregnant, or have a weakened immune system due to medicine that suppresses the immune system, or a condition that weakens your immune system.

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Shingles On Your Face

Shingles usually occurs on one side of your back or chest, but you can also get a rash on one side of your face.

If the rash is close to or in your ear, it can cause an infection that could lead to:

  • loss of hearing
  • issues with your balance
  • weakness in your facial muscles

Shingles inside your mouth can be very painful. It may be difficult to eat and may affect your sense of taste.

A shingles rash on your scalp can cause sensitivity when you comb or brush your hair. Without treatment, shingles on the scalp can lead to permanent bald patches.

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A Word About The Shingles Vaccine

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If you are age 60 or over and have not had shingles, talk to your doctor about getting the shingles vaccine. Not only will it reduce your risk of developing shingles, but if you do develop shingles, youll be more likely to have a mild case. And, just as important, youll be much less likely to develop PHN if youve had the vaccine.

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Best Treatments For Lasting Shingles Pain

Postherpetic Neuralgia Pain: What Works, What Doesn’t

Doctors call it postherpetic neuralgia or PHN. It’s caused by nerve damage left behind by a case of shingles. Shingles itself comes from reactivation of a chickenpox virus, varicella zoster. The virus travels down nerve fibers to cause a painful skin rash.

When the rash goes away, the pain usually goes with it. But for 12% to 15% of people the pain remains. If your shingles pain lasts eight to 12 weeks after the rash goes away, you’re part of an “unfortunate minority,” says pain researcher Andrew S.C. Rice, MD, of Imperial College, London.

“Among people with PHN, some have their pain resolve in the first year to 18 months after the shingles rash goes away,” Rice tells WebMD. “But if they have pain longer than that, it is not going to go away on its own. In either case, a person must deal with the pain.”

Help From Mobile Healthcare Professionals

As we age, we may face challenges such as impaired mobility, worsening vision, or another health condition, which can hinder our ability to travel to a clinic for medical treatment. So, its good to know that DispatchHealth offers a more convenient alternative to facility-based care in-home medical care. Our compassionate team of qualified medical providers understands that shingles can be extremely painful, so they will arrive promptly to treat your elderly loved one. Equipped with nearly all the tools and supplies found in an emergency room, we can administer or prescribe medication to ease your loved ones pain. Plus, we ensure continuity of care by providing a detailed report to every patients primary care physician doctors. We are available 365 days a year and accept all major insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid. To request care for shingles, contact us via phone, app, or online.

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Shingles Vaccine For Older Adults

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Shingles is caused by the same virus as chickenpox. If you had chickenpox, the virus is still in your body. As you get older, the virus could become active again and cause shingles.

Shingles affect the nerves. Common symptoms include burning, shooting pain, tingling, and/or itching, as well as a rash with fluid-filled blisters. Even when the rash disappears, the pain can remain. This is called post-herpetic neuralgia, or PHN.

The shingles vaccine is safe, and it may keep you from getting shingles and PHN. Healthy adults age 50 and older should get vaccinated with the shingles vaccine, Shingrix, which is given in two doses.

You should get a shingles vaccine even if youve already had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, or if you dont remember whether you had chickenpox. You should also get the shingles vaccine if youve already had shingles or received Zostavax. However, you should not get a vaccine if you currently have shingles, are sick or have a fever, have a weakened immune system, or have had an allergic reaction to Shingrix. Check with a health care provider if you are not sure what to do.

You can get the shingles vaccine at a doctors office and at some pharmacies. Medicare Part D and private health insurance plans may pay some or all of the cost. Check with Medicare or your health plan to find out if it is covered.

Shingles: A Painful Skin Condition

How To Help Nerve Pain From Shingles

Shingles is a disease that affects the nervous system and causes a painful, blistering skin rash. It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox: varicella-zoster. Individuals who have had chickenpox recover, but the virus does not leave the body. Although it is dormant, it lingers in some nerve cells. For reasons that arent totally understood, the virus can reactivate years later, producing shingles.

Just like chickenpox, people with shingles will feel sick and have a rash on their body or face. The major difference is that chickenpox is a childhood illness, while shingles usually occurs in older people. Most adults live with the virus in their body and never get shingles, but about one in five people who have had chickenpox will get shingles later in lifeusually after the age of 50.

When the activated virus travels along the path of a nerve to the surface of the skin, a rash will appear. It usually shows up as a band on one side of the face or body. The word shingles comes from the Latin word for belt or girdle because often the rash is shaped like a belt.

Shingles is not contagious. You cant catch it from someone who has it, but you can catch chickenpox from someone with shingles. So, if youve never had chickenpox or been vaccinated, try to stay away from anyone who has the rash until theyve completely healed. Most people get shingles only once, but recurrences are possible.

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What Is The Outcome For Someone Who Has Shingles

Most people get shingles once, but its possible to get it again.

If you have a healthy immune system, the blisters tend to clear in 7 to 10 days. The rash tends to go away completely within 2 to 4 weeks. The pain may last longer, but usually stops in 1 or 2 months.

For some people, the pain will last longer than the rash. When it does, its called postherpetic neuralgia , which can come and go or be constant. PHN can last for months, years, or the rest of your life. Treatment can help reduce the amount of pain you feel.

Be sure to tell your doctor if you continue to have pain. Treatment can help you feel more comfortable.

For anyone who has a shingles rash, the right self-care can help ease your discomfort. Youll find out what dermatologists recommend at, Shingles: Self-care.

ImageGetty Images

ReferencesCenters for Disease Control and Prevention . About shingles. Page last reviewed 10/17/2017. Last accessed 4/1/2019.

Dooling KL, Guo A, et al. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for Use of Herpes Zoster Vaccines. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018 67:103-8.

Madkan V, Sra K, et al. Human herpes viruses. In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. . Mosby Elsevier, Spain, 2008: 1204-8.

Straus SE, Oxman MN. Varicella and herpes zoster. In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, et al. Fitzpatricks Dermatology in General Medicine . McGraw Hill Medical, New York, 2008: 1885-98.

Help Is Available For Phn

Fortunately,early treatment for shingles can lower your chances of getting PHN.

For some people, the pain becomes refractory, or resistant to treatment, explains Dr. Rosenquist. So we want to treat shingles as fast as we can ideally as soon as somebody feels a tingling or burning sensation, even before a rash develops.

Sheadds that whenever nerve pain is involved, some people respond to treatment andsome dont.

However,medications taken orally or injected that can target the affected nerves may beable to stun the nervous system into behaving properly. That meanstransmitting the appropriate signal to the brain.

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Possible Side Effects Of Vaccination

Most people experience mild or moderate pain at the injection site. Some people experience fatigue, muscle pain, a headache, chills, fever, stomach pain, or nausea. About 1 out of 6 people who get Shingrix experienced side effects that prevented them from doing regular activities. Symptoms went away on their own in about 2 to 3 days. These reactions can occur after the first or second dose or both doses of Shingrix.

Rebooting The Nervous System

How to treat shingles

Its like restarting a computer, Dr. Rosenquist says. When its running slowly or acting weird, you restart it. We are trying to turn that nerve off. When it comes back on, hopefully, it will send an appropriate transmission as opposed to a pain transmission.

Treatmentoptions for PHN patients include:

  • Intercostal nerve blocks: A local anesthetic can be injected between two ribs.
  • Thoracic epidural injections: Anti-inflammatory medicine can be injected into the space around the spinal cord to decrease nerve root inflammation and reduce pain.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: Medications such as amitriptyline may be used to relieve pain.
  • Membrane stabilizers: Medications such as gabapentin can be used to reduce the pain associated with PHN.
  • Capsaicin cream: This topical cream can be applied to the affected area to relieve pain temporarily.
  • Patientswith refractory PHN rarely need opioid pain medication. However,you should be evaluated by a physician. We cant make a blanket statement abouttreatment. It is individualized, she says.

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    How Dangerous Is Shingles

    Shingles isnt considered a dangerous health condition.

    Each year about 1 million new cases of shingles are reported in the United States. Most people recover and resume their normal activities once theyre no longer infectious.

    However, if shingles isnt treated, particularly severe cases can lead to death.

    People with autoimmune conditions and people over the age of 65 are at a higher risk for shingles complications.

    Women who are pregnant may also be concerned if they develop shingles. You and your baby will most likely be safe. However, talk with your healthcare provider if youre pregnant and suspect you have shingles.

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    Complications Of Shingles In The Elderly

    Shingles are more common than many people think. Half of all people will have developed shingles by the time they reach age 80.

    Although shingles can develop at any age, it tends to occur most frequently in people between the ages of 60 and 80. By age 60, one in three people will have had shingles. For this reason, shingles are linked to a rising threat among seniors.

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    How Do You Treat Shingles In The Elderly

    Things that increase risk for shingles include:

    • Having had chickenpox. You must have had chickenpox to get shingles.
    • Being older than 50.
    • Having a weakened immune system due to another disease, such as diabetes or HIV infection.
    • Experiencing stress or trauma.
    • Having cancer or receiving treatment for cancer.
    • Taking medicines that affect your immune system, such as steroids or medicines that are taken after having an organ transplant.

    If a pregnant woman gets chickenpox, her baby has a high risk for shingles during his or her first 2 years of life. And if a baby gets chickenpox in the first year of life, he or she has a higher risk for shingles during childhood.footnote 1

    Post-herpetic neuralgia is a common complication of shingles that lasts for at least 30 days and may continue for months or years. You can reduce your risk for getting shingles and developing PHN by getting the shingles vaccine.

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