Friday, April 12, 2024

Can You Get Shingles On Both Sides Of Your Body

How Common Is Shingles

Shingles: Pathophysiology, Symptoms, 3 stages of Infection, Complications, Management, Animation.

Shingles is an infection of a nerve and the area of skin supplied by the nerve. It is caused by a virus called the varicella-zoster virus. It is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who has had chickenpox in the past may develop shingles. Shingles is sometimes called herpes zoster.

About 1 in 4 people have shingles at some time in their lives. It can occur at any age but it is most common in older adults . After the age of 50, it becomes increasingly more common as you get older. It is uncommon to have shingles more than once but some people do have it more than once.

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.

How Does It Occur

If you have had chickenpox, you are at risk for later developing shingles. After you recover from chickenpox, the chickenpox virus stays in your body. It moves to the roots of your nerve cells and becomes inactive . Later, if the virus becomes active again, shingles is the name given to the symptoms it causes.

What exactly causes the virus to become active is not known. A weakened immune system seems to allow reactivation of the virus. This may occur with normal aging, immune-suppressing medicines, or another illness, or after major surgery. It can also happen as a complication of cancer or AIDS or treatment of these illnesses. Chronic use of steroid drugs may trigger shingles. The virus may also become active again after the skin is injured or sunburned. Emotional stress seems to be a common trigger as well.

Also Check: What Is A Shingle Shot

What Should You Expect If You Get Shingles

Shingles can be a very painful condition. If you think you have the symptoms of shingles, see your healthcare provider right away. Starting antiviral medications early can ease your discomfort and end symptoms earlier.

A better approach to shingles is to take action and do what you can to lessen your risk of getting it. If you’ve never had shingles in the past, talk to your healthcare provider about getting the shingles vaccine. If youve never had chickenpox, talk with your healthcare provider about getting the chickenpox vaccine.

Why Does Shingles Appear Mostly On One Side Or In One Area Of Your Body

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The virus travels in specific nerves, so you will often see shingles occur in a band on one side of your body. This band corresponds to the area where the nerve transmits signals. The shingles rash stays somewhat localized to an area. It doesnt spread over your whole body. Your torso is a common area, as is your face.

Also Check: Can You Get Shingles Vaccine If You Had Shingles

Shingles: Not Just A Band Of Blisters

Shingles is a common condition in which the virus that causes chickenpox reactivates after years of lying dormant in your body. As the virus reactivates, it causes pain and tingling and eventually a rash of short-lived blisters.

“Shingles normally isn’t a serious condition, but in some people the rash can cause an eye infection,” explains Jeffery Wheeler, M.D., Mayo Clinic Health System family physician. “Vaccines can help reduce the risk of shingles, while early treatment can help shorten a shingles infection and lessen the chance of complications.”

One complication is called postherpetic neuralgia, which can cause the skin to remain painful and sensitive to touch for months or years. When identified early, shingles can be treated with prescription medications that help shorten the infection and reduce the risk of complications.

Dr. Wheeler says signs and symptoms of shingles may include:

  • A feeling of pain, burning, tingling, itching, numbness or extreme sensitivity in a limited area of your body
  • A red rash with fluid-filled blisters that begins a few days after the pain and lasts two to three weeks before scabbing over and healing

Is Shingles Contagious

You cannot get shingles from someone who has shingles. You can catch chickenpox from someone with shingles if you have not had chickenpox before. But most adults and older children have already had chickenpox and so are immune from catching chickenpox again.

The shingles rash is contagious until all the blisters have scabbed and are dry. If the blisters are covered with a dressing, it is unlikely that the virus will pass on to others. This is because the virus is passed on by direct contact with the blisters.

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How Do You Diagnose It

Your doctor can almost always diagnose shingles simply by examining the rash and listening to your symptoms. Because of its unique placement only on one side and its common occurrence, many doctors recognize it on sight.

When you have shingles on your eye, your doctor will examine different parts of your eye and surrounding areas, including:

They will also examine you for shingles on other areas of your body and look for swelling or other problems that often accompany the condition. They may also test your vision to determine the effects of the rash on your eye.

If your doctor does not feel satisfied with a physical exam, they may take a fluid sample from the blisters to test for the shingles virus.

Who Is At Risk For Getting Shingles

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People who have had chickenpox who are more likely to develop shingles include those:

  • With a weakened immune system .
  • Over the age of 50.
  • Who have been ill.
  • Who have experienced trauma.
  • Who are under stress.

The chickenpox virus doesnt leave your body after you have chickenpox. Instead, the virus stays in a portion of your spinal nerve root called the dorsal root ganglion. For the majority of people, the virus stays there quietly and doesn’t cause problems. Researchers aren’t always sure why the virus gets reactivated, but this typically occurs at times of stress.

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What Is The Outlook

If you have a particularly severe case of shingles, it could take months to go away. It can also become a long-term problem for some people. If you have postherpetic neuralgia, you may need to see your doctor more often.

Complications that involve the eye or ear may require ongoing care, especially if you have lingering vision or hearing problems.

Most people have shingles only once, but it can recur. This is more likely to happen if you have a weakened immune system.

If you havent had any major complications, your symptoms should clear up within a matter of weeks with few, if any, lasting effects.

Week Four: Healing Scabs

Most people with shingles do not develop a blister-related infection. Instead, scabs appear once the blisters dry up and crust over. That typically occurs seven to 10 days post-blistery outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its important to remember that until scabs appear, your blisters contain the virus, which can cause others to catch the chickenpox. Its also important to continue to wash the area with a fragrance-free cleanser daily until the rash, blisters and scabs are completely clear. Within a month, your skins appearance will most likely return to normal, though some people are left with darker or lighter spots where the shingles rash occurred.

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General Measures To Alleviate Shingles Symptoms

Loose-fitting cotton clothes are best to reduce irritating the affected area of skin. Pain may be eased by cooling the affected area with ice cubes , wet dressings, or a cool bath. A non-adherent dressing that covers the rash when it is blistered and raw may help to reduce pain caused by contact with clothing. Simple creams may be helpful if the rash is itchy. Calamine lotion can help to cool the skin and reduce mild itchiness.

Week Three: More Blisters

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If your blisters persist for more than two weeks, this is a red flag that your immune system is not functioning as it should. You should visit your healthcare professional again. And remember, if your blisters appear on your face at any time, quickly see a healthcare professional. Just like the rash, when blisters develop near or in the eye or the ear, it can cause lasting damage, such as hearing loss, blindness, facial paralysis and brain swelling, according to The National Institute on Aging.

Read Also: How Do I Get The Shingles Vaccine

Where Does Shingles Come From

When you have chickenpox as a child, your body fights off the varicella-zoster virus and the physical signs of chickenpox fade away, but the virus always remains in your body. In adulthood, sometimes the virus becomes active again. This time, the varicella-zoster virus makes its second appearance in the form of shingles.

How Do You Treat Shingles In The Eye

Shingles respond well to antiviral medication, such as acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir. These medications stop the virus from spreading, help the rash clear more quickly, heal shingles blisters, and control nerve pain from the rash.

For the best results, start the antiviral medication within three days after you notice your symptoms. When treated early, most people recover fully from shingles. During this time, you can also take over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .

If the rash spreads to your eye, your doctor may give you additional shingles treatments. They may prescribe a steroid medication in the form of eye drops or pills. Treating shingles in your eye requires more careful treatment, as it can cause more severe problems that affect your daily life if neglected.

If you develop postherpetic neuralgia, pain medications or antidepressants prescribed by your doctor can help.

When it comes to home remedies, you may find that a cool bath or shower can help soothe the nerve pain associated with shingles. Additionally, although not everyone experiences itching with shingles the way they do with chickenpox, calamine lotion can help those who do.

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How Is Internal Shingles Treated

Even though shingles is a virus, this is a case where there are antiviral medications available by prescription. Thats why its important to see your doctor right away if you suspect you have shingles. Early treatment may reduce the risk of complications, like PHN. Serious complications require hospitalization.

Common antiviral medications for shingles include:

Depending on the location and severity of the shingles infection, steroids may also help. Anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and pain-relieving medication such as acetaminophen or other prescription pain medication can help in easing pain experienced from shingles.

Could It Be Shingles

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If youre an older adult and experiencing a blistery rash, the most likely answer is that youve got , a.k.a. herpes zoster, which affects one in three people in their lifetime, according to the CDC. Shingles is whats known as a reactivation virus that usually affects older adults, says Dr. Jones Lopez. Basically, once youve had chickenpox, the varicella zoster virus stays in your body. After the initial infection, the virus goes into dormant state for potentially decades, he says. Much later in life, when your immunity goes down, it can reactivate as shingles.

Unlike a chickenpox rash, the shingles rash is usually confined to a specific area of the body and appears in a single band, rather than spreading indiscriminately. It typically happens somewhere on the chest or back, says Dr. Jones-Lopez, although the head and other parts of the body can sometimes be affected. The key thing that distinguishes the shingles rash is that it doesnt cross the midline. If it spreads across your body, its not shingles. For example, if youve got a rash on left side of your face but another on the right side of your back, you can probably rule out this illness.

In addition to a rash , you may have some pain, itching, or tingling on your skin. You may also have flu-like symptoms . Like chickenpox, shingles rashes may itchbut they are mostly known for causing pain.

Also Check: Blood Test For Shingles Antibodies

Urgent Advice: Get Advice From 111 As Soon As You Suspect Shingles

You might need medicine to help speed up your recovery and avoid longer-lasting problems.

This works best if taken within 3 days of your symptoms starting.

111 will tell you what to do. They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one.

Go to 111.nhs.uk or .

Get an urgent GP appointment

A GP may be able to treat you.

Ask your GP surgery for an urgent appointment.

What Are The Symptoms

The first sign of shingles is often burning, sharp pain, tingling, or numbness in your skin on one side of your body or face. The most common site is the back or upper abdomen. You may have severe itching or aching. You also may feel tired and ill with fever, chills, headache, and upset stomach or belly pain.

One to 14 days after you start feeling pain, you will notice a rash of small blisters on reddened skin. Within a few days after they appear, the blisters will turn yellow, then dry and crust over. Over the next 2 weeks the crusts drop off, and the skin continues to heal over the next several days to weeks.

Because shingles usually follows nerve paths, the blisters are usually found in a line, often extending from the back or side around to the belly. The blisters are almost always on just one side of the body. Shingles usually doesn’t cross the midline of the body. The rash also may appear on one side of your face or scalp. The painful rash may be in the area of your ear or eye. When shingles occurs on the head or scalp, symptoms can include headaches and weakness of one side of the face, which causes that side of the face to look droopy. The symptoms usually go away eventually, but it may take many months.

In some cases the pain can last for weeks, months, or years, long after the rash heals. This is called postherpetic neuralgia.

Read Also: How Many Doses Of Shingles Vaccine Are Needed

Psoriasis Forms Red Patches On The Skin

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that is easy to confuse with the shingles rash. As with the shingles virus, psoriasis forms red patches on the skin, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. One type of psoriasis pustular can lead to the development of blisters. Areas of skin affected by psoriasis often develop into silvery scales on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back. Treatment can help control the condition.

How Long Will The Effects Last

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The rash from shingles will heal in 1 to 3 weeks and the pain or irritation will usually go away in 3 to 5 weeks. When shingles occurs on the head or scalp, the symptoms usually go away eventually, but it may take many months.

If the virus damages a nerve, you may have pain, numbness, or tingling for months or even years after the rash is healed. This is called postherpetic neuralgia. This chronic condition is most likely to occur after a shingles outbreak in people over 50 years old. Taking antiviral medicine as soon as the shingles is diagnosed may help prevent this problem.

Also Check: What Age Is Shingles Vaccine Free

Should I See A Doctor For Shingles

It is usually worth seeing a doctor to be certain about the diagnosis and to see if you need treatment or not. Ideally you should see a doctor as soon as possible after the rash appears.

The rash of shingles can be very painful. So even if the doctor doesn’t think you need an anti-shingles medicine, they may be able to give you stronger painkillers than those you can buy over the counter from the chemist.

Eczema Can Cause Red Itchy Skin With Bumps

Like shingles, a skin allergy can also cause red, bumpy, itchy skin, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology . These reactions include eczema, hives, and contact dermatitis. Eczema can cause dry, red, itchy, irritated skin, per the ACAAI. Small, oozing, fluid-filled bumps may also appear, especially when the skin is infected. Eczema is most common on the face, inside the elbows and behind the knees, and on the hands and feet, per MedlinePlus. There is no cure for eczema, but treatments can help manage the condition.

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Shingles On The Face: Symptoms Treatments And More

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Shingles on the face

Shingles, or zoster, is a common infection that occurs due to a herpes virus.

Shingles is a rash that usually appears on one side of the chest and back. It can also develop on one side of the face and around the eye.

The condition can be very painful and can sometimes have long-term side effects. No cure for shingles is available, but early treatment can lower your risk of serious complications.

second most common rash site is the face. It can spread from the ear to the nose and forehead. It can also spread around one eye, which can cause redness and swelling of the eye and surrounding area. The shingles rash occasionally develops in the mouth.

Many people feel a tingling or burning sensation days before the first red bumps appear.

The rash starts out as blisters filled with fluid, or lesions. Some people have a few clusters of blisters scattered about, and others have so many that it looks like a burn. The blisters eventually break, ooze, and crust over. After a few days, the scabs start to fall off.

Other symptoms of shingles are:

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