Lasting Pain After Shingles
Pain that continues for a long time after a shingles rash has disappeared is called post-herpetic neuralgia. This is the most common complication of shingles. Its still not clear how it can be prevented or what the best treatment is.
Shingles typically causes a rash accompanied by pain in the affected area. The pain normally goes away when the rash goes away. This usually happens after two to four weeks. Pain that continues for longer is referred to as post-herpetic neuralgia. The word post-herpetic means post-herpes because the pain arises after infection by the herpes zoster virus. In very rare cases pain can come back after a shingles infection, even if it had already gone away and the rash has disappeared.
The main symptom of post-herpetic neuralgia is pain in the nerves . The skin is often overly sensitive and itchy as well. This can make it difficult or painful to wash yourself, turn over in bed, or hug someone. The pain and itching can be very severe and might keep you from sleeping.
When To Seek Medical Advice
Shingles is not usually serious, but you should see your GP as soon as possible if you recognise the symptoms. Early treatment may help reduce the severity of your symptoms and the risk of developing complications.
You should also see your GP if you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system and you think you have been exposed to someone with chickenpox or shingles and havent had chickenpox before.
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How Do Dermatologists Treat Shingles
An antiviral medication can:
Reduce the amount of time that you have a shingles rash
Lower your risk of developing long-lasting nerve pain and other health problems
One of three antiviral medications is usually prescribedacyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir.
To treat your symptoms, dermatologists typically recommend the following:
Pain: Medication that you can buy without a prescription can help, such as:
If you have severe pain, your dermatologist may prescribe a medication that reduces inflammation, such as a corticosteroid.
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What Is Postherpetic Neuralgia
In some instances, people whove had shingles may experience postherpetic neuralgia , in which pain persists well after the blisters go away. This happens because the shingles-damaged nerves continue to send pain signals to the brain.
There are several factors that can lead to postherpetic neuralgia. Anything that depresses immunity can increase your risk, says Dr. Oaklander.
She adds: The severity of postherpetic neuralgia gradually eases over time in everyone, but the rate of resolution can vary. As you get older, your postherpetic neuralgia typically lasts longer and longer. Senior citizens, who are the most at risk for zoster, have substantial risk of postherpetic neuralgia lasting over a year, and sometimes for the rest of their lives.
If you have a lot of pain before the rash, it puts you at much higher risk for postherpetic neuralgia, adds Joseph Safdieh, MD, professor of neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City.
- Personality disorder
Can You Get Shingles From The Covid
There have been a few reports of shingles happening in people who were vaccinated against COVID-19. The varicella-zoster virus was reactivated in these people.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If youve had chickenpox, youre at risk of developing shingles later in life. Shingles causes a rash that is contagious and painful. The disease can have serious complications. The best thing you can do to reduce your risk is to get the shingles vaccine. The vaccines are safe and effective.
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Can Shingles Come Back
Given that shingles results from the varicella zoster virus reactivating some amount of time after having chickenpox, you may be wondering if the virus canre-reactivate after having shingles.
Once shingles clears up, the virus simply goes back into hiding and, unfortunately, it can reactivate again in the future, says Dr. Brown. As far as the likelihood of shingles reoccurring, thats still largely up for debate. One study found that the chance of getting shingles a second time is about 5%, but other studies show this number to be lower.
One way to reduce your risk of getting shingles twice is the same preventive measure that helps prevent you from ever getting it in the first place: the shingles vaccine.
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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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Shingles Signs Symptoms And Complications
Pain in one area of the body and a rash with blisters are very common in shingles.
While shingles is very rarely life-threatening, it can cause a painful rash anywhere on your body.
It usually appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around one side of your torso, or in some cases on one side of your face, neck, or around one eye.
There is a vaccine available for people ages 50 and older as well as for people ages 18 and older who are immunocompromised that works to prevent shingles.
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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Shingles On Scalp Symptoms
Depending on the nerves involved, shingles can affect many parts of the body.
Nerve pain- the first symptom of shingles outbreak is pain occurring along the path of the nerve in which varicella-zoster virus has become reactivated. The pain varies in intensity between individuals from mild to very intense. This pain is accompanied by a headache, sensitivity to light, and flu-like symptoms without a fever.
You may also feel itching, tingling, or pain where a band, strip, or small area of rash may appear several days or weeks later. A rash can appear anywhere on the body but will be on only one side of the body, the left or right. The rash first forms blisters, then scab over and finally clear up over a few weeks. This band pain and rash is the clearest sign of shingles.
The rash caused by shingles is more painful and itchy. There are nerve roots that supply sensation to your skin in pathways on each side of your body. When the virus becomes reactivated, it travels up the nerve roots to the area of skin supplied by those specific nerve roots.
Shingles develop in stages
How Can You Prevent Spreading The Virus
You cant give shingles to someone else, but the varicella-zoster virus is very contagious. If you have shingles and you expose someone else who has not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, you can give them the virus. Theyll get chickenpox, not shingles, but this puts them at risk for shingles later on.
Youre contagious when your blisters are oozing, or after they break and before they crust over. Do the following to avoid spreading the virus to others:
- Keep your rash covered, especially when the blisters are active.
- Try not to touch, rub, or scratch your rash.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often.
Avoid contact with people whove never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, especially:
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Soothing Lotions And Creams
These lotions and creams dont speed up the healing process, but they can increase your comfort level. . You can apply topical ointments containing the natural ingredient capsaicin up to three or four times a day. This is the active ingredient in chili peppers and it contains anti-inflammatory effect to help ease the pain. When you apply the cream, the pain will increase and then go away slowly. This cream works by reducing pain signals sent to your brain.
In addition, you can apply calamine lotion after baths and showers to soothe irritated skin and help dry out blisters.
What Are The Symptoms And Stages Shingles
Shingles symptoms appear in stages. At first, you may get headaches or feel like you have the flu, but without a fever. You may also be sensitive to light, have trouble thinking clearly or feel dizzy and weak.
A few days or even weeks later, an area of your body or face will feel itchy, tingly or painful. This is where a rash will appear. The rash will eventually turn into a cluster of blisters that are filled with fluid.
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What It Really Feels Like To Have Shingles
Even if you havent had shingles, you probably know that its no fun at all. While the infectionwhich is caused by the varicella zoster virusisnt life-threatening, it can be unbelievably painful and uncomfortable. There are approximately 1 million cases of shingles in the US each year, and the chance of getting shingles in your lifetime is 1 in 3. The CDC advises people age 60 and over to get the shingles vaccine, because the risk of infection increases as you get older, but as youll see below, it can also strike young adults. Read on to learn what its like to have the virus.
It started as an itchy, tingly sensation across my lower right side, and then became somewhat hot and prickly. Having clothing against it was uncomfortable. It eventually went away, and every once in a while I get a bit of a twitch in the area. Bevlyn, 63
I started noticing a mild rash that was accompanied by a bit of pain near my lower back and hip. The pain was different and less severe than the muscle aches you get after exercise. I went to the doctor quickly, because the pictures that I saw on Google of the most severe cases were pretty frightening and I didnt want it to spread to the rest of my body. My doctor prescribed me the antiviral pill valacyclovir for 2 weeks, which kept it in check. The rash lingered the whole time I was on the meds, but faded 2 days after my last dose. Bill, 49
Shingles Rash In The Eyes
Ophthalmic shingles, or herpes zoster ophthalmicus , is when the shingles rash is in and/or around the eye. It is a severe variant that affects 20% of people with the infection.
If you develop a shingles rash near your eye, contact your healthcare provider right away.
lauraag / Getty Images
HZO usually appears within two to four weeks after a shingles rash starts. People who have a compromised immune system, such as those with HIV/AIDS, are at higher risk for developing this.
All parts of the eye can be affected. For example:
- You can develop blisters around the eye that may cause the eyelids and surrounding area to swell.
- The corneaâthe transparent part over the front of the eyeâcan be affected, causing calcification .
- Blood vessels in the eye could become more pronounced blood flow to the eye could be impacted.
To reduce your risk of long-term eye complications, contact your healthcare provider right away if you have a shingles rash on your face.
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Other Health Problems Due To Shingles
Some people develop other health problems after the shingles rash clears, which include:
Postherpetic neuralgia : This is the most common. Occurring where you had the rash, PHN can cause constant tingling, burning, and pain. For others, the pain comes and goes.
Whether the pain is constant or intermittent, it can go on for a long time. You can have PHN for months, years, or the rest of your life. There is no way to know how long it will last.
The pain caused by PHN can become so severe that it interferes with your life, making everyday activities painful. A musician may no longer be able to play an instrument. Some people cannot walk comfortably. It may be difficult to bathe or get dressed. You may have trouble sleeping.
How to prevent PHN: If you have shingles, you can greatly reduce your risk of PHN by getting treated for shingles within 3 days of developing the rash.
Get treated for shingles within 3 days of developing the rash
Taking antiviral medication within 3 days of getting the shingles rash can: Reduce your risk of developing PHN Ease symptoms of shingles Clear the shingles rash more quickly
Other health problems that can develop after the shingles rash clears include:
Blindness or loss of some eyesight
Although rare, some people die of shingles.
Treatment can prevent these complications.
You can find out if you have a greater risk of developing shingles at, Shingles: Causes.
Why Is There A Rash On My Neck
Pay attention to associated symptoms and the shape, color, and any abnormalities or signs of the wound. If you notice small spots, a bug or insect may have bitten you. A single or double incision or hole shows this. If you are stung by a bee, wasp, yellow jacket, jellyfish, or hornet or eaten by a horsefly, its plain the moment it happens. Other infestations of fleas, lice, bedbugs, scabies or if a spider, tick, or mosquito stopped for a meal, it may go unnoticed for some time. In cases of parasite bites, the bumps will appear in clusters. sites of irritation are raised and surrounded by a red halo. If youve had a recent stay at a hotel or campsite, infestation related reactions are common. If you cant remember your last hike, trip to the park, or stroll through the forest, bugs may not be to blame.
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Have A Rash Go To The Doctor
If you think you might have shingles, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Its important to see your doctor no later than three days after the rash starts. The doctor will confirm whether or not you have shingles and can make a treatment plan. If you have a condition that weakens the immune system, the doctor may give you a shingles test. The shingles test can also help doctors diagnose shingles in people who dont have a rash. Although there is no cure for shingles, early treatment with drugs that fight the virus can help the blisters dry up faster and limit severe pain. Shingles can often be treated at home. People with shingles rarely need to stay in a hospital.
Are There Any Treatments For Phn
There are several treatments for PHN so people do not have to live with the pain after a shingles episode. Treatment includes different types of oral medicines such as:
What about treatment for PHN other than medications?
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What Can I Do To Help Prevent Shingles Or A Shingles Outbreak
- A vaccine may be given to help prevent shingles. You can get the vaccine even if you already had shingles. The vaccine comes in 2 forms. A 2-dose vaccine is usually given to adults 50 years or older. A 1-dose vaccine may be given to adults 60 years or older.
- The vaccine can help prevent a future outbreak. If you do get shingles again, the vaccine can keep it from becoming severe. Ask your healthcare provider about other vaccines you may need.
When Should You Call For Help
or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have a new or higher fever.
- You have a severe headache and a stiff neck.
- You lose the ability to think clearly.
- The rash spreads to your forehead, nose, eyes, or eyelids.
- You have eye pain, or your vision gets worse.
- You have new pain in your face, or you can’t move the muscles in your face.
- Blisters spread to new parts of your body.
- You have symptoms of infection, such as increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- The rash has not healed after 2 to 4 weeks.
- You still have pain after the rash has healed.
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Treatment Options For Shingles On Neck
Shingles is a very painful condition. The main aim of management of shingles is to provide relief from pain and prevent post herpetic neuralgia. Certain general measures that you can do at home are wear loose fitting clothes, apply ice on the lesions or keep a wet cool towel on neck area to reduce discomfort and pain. If the lesions are itchy, apply emollients.
To reduce pain, doctors often prescribe painkillers and anti inflammatory medications. Anti viral drugs are useful to shorten the course of shingles on neck as well as reduce the discomforting pain. Anti viral drugs work best when they are taken within first 3 days once the shingle pain in neck begins. Anti viral ointment are also available and they can be applied over the lesion.
Avoid popping the blisters as this may extend the healing period and lead to scarring.
Sometimes when patient complains of unbearable pain, anti depressant are helpful even though the person is not suffering from depression. Anticonvulsant medicines are often prescribed in patients suffering from post herpetic neuralgia.