The Discomfort Of Shingles
While most people are acquainted with the childhood disease known as chickenpox, there are fewer people who are familiar with its grown-up sibling, shingles. Shingles is an ailment that only presents in patients who have already had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine. While they are completely different rashes, shingles is simply a reactivation of the chickenpox virus, known as varicella zoster. It is unknown what causes shingles to develop, as directly, it is not contagious person to person. However, if a person has never had chicken pox and they come in contact with a person who has shingles they can develop chickenpox.
The first symptoms of shingles generally include an itching, burning, or a tingling sensation at the site of the developing rash. Unlike chickenpox, shingles usually affects only a select area of skin rather than the whole body. One to two days after the initial symptoms develop, blisters will begin to form, often presenting in a band or belt pattern. While the blisters are present, you are considered contagious and should limit your interaction with at-risk individuals. After seven to ten days, the blisters will begin to resolve and will be replaced with scabs and eventually heal. At this point, you are no longer contagious.
If you believe you may be suffering from shingles dont hesitate to stop by one of our clinics or make an appointment.
What Everyone Should Know About The Shingles Vaccine
CDC recommends that adults 50 years and older get two doses of the shingles vaccine called Shingrix to prevent shingles and the complications from the disease. Adults 19 years and older who have weakened immune systems because of disease or therapy should also get two doses of Shingrix, as they have a higher risk of getting shingles and related complications.
Your doctor or pharmacist can give you Shingrix as a shot in your upper arm.
Shingrix provides strong protection against shingles and PHN. In adults 50 years and older who have healthy immune systems, Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles and PHN. Immunity stays strong for at least the first 7 years after vaccination. In adults with weakened immune systems, studies show that Shingrix is 68%-91% effective in preventing shingles, depending on the condition that affects the immune system.
How Long Does Shingles Last
Most cases of shingles last three to five weeks.
- The first sign is often burning or tingling pain sometimes it includes numbness or itching on one side of the body.
- Somewhere between one and five days after the tingling or burning feeling on the skin, a red rash will appear.
- A few days later, the rash will turn into fluid-filled blisters.
- About one week to 10 days after that, the blisters dry up and crust over.
- A couple of weeks later, the scabs clear up.
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Shingles: Treating The Symptoms
Shingles is a viral infection that is caused by the chickenpox virus. So, if you have ever had chickenpox , you are at risk for getting shingles. Shingles can be extremely painful, and since there is no known cure, treatment for shingles is often aimed at controlling that pain.
- Burning, itching, or tingling area of skin
- A rash in the same area as the burning, itching, or tingling
- The rash then turns to into blisters that turn yellow or bloody, then crust over and heal
- Extreme pain that can last for months
- Flu-like symptoms
Emergency Care Discharge Instructions
If you have been diagnosed with shingles, you likely had chicken pox when you were a child. The virus that caused chicken pox never actually leaves the body it hides, or sleeps inside the spinal cord. For most people, the virus stays quiet inside the spinal cord and never reactivates or wakes up. However, for 1 in 5 people , the virus does reactivate. It travels down one of the nerves from the spinal cord, causing the rash to appear along the path of that nerve. This usually causes a burning pain to the area, then a skin rash appears a few days later.
You may have been prescribed a medication to manage the pain. Strong pain medications such as Tylenol #3 or Percocet can make you drowsy, so do not drive or operate heavy machinery when taking either of them. These medications usually also cause constipation, so take an over-the-counter medicine for constipation, such as Metamucil or Docusate, at the same time as taking these medications.
For a small number of patients, the pain lasts more than a month . This is called post-herpetic neuralgia. See your family doctor if this is the case for you.
If you have been prescribed an anti-viral medication, start it as soon as possible and complete the entire course .
Remember that you are contagious while you have the skin rash. The risk is that you can give another person chicken pox if they havent had chicken pox before however, you cant give them shingles.
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What Are The Complications Of Shingles
A condition called postherpetic neuralgia is the most common complication of shingles. PHN causes long-term nerve pain in the area affected by the rash and can be quite severe, especially in elderly people. While the condition usually goes away in a few weeks or months, it can sometimes last for years and interfere with daily life. The older you are, the more likely you are to experience PHN. Antiviral medication may help to prevent PHN if taken at the onset of shingles symptoms.
Other complications from shingles are also possible. If the rash appears on your face, damage to the eye can occur and can lead to blindness in rare instances. Pneumonia, hearing loss and brain inflammation are other rare complications from shingles.
If you have early signs of a shingles attack, dont wait to visit a healthcare provider. The nurse practitioners and physicians assistants at Rivers Edge Hospitals Urgent Care Department can diagnose shingles and are happy to answer your questions. Conveniently located at the main entrance of the hospital, Urgent Care is open MondayFriday from noon to 7:30 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. No appointment is necessary.
How Do You Get Shingles
You may have heard about shingles from commercials advertising a vaccine but do you know what it is and how you become infected?
Shingles is known to the medical community as the Herpes Zoster virus. It is actually the reactivation of a previous infection of chicken pox, the Varicella Zoster virus. After a person recovers from chicken pox, the virus lays dormant or inactive in the body, usually in the nerve roots that control sensation. For reasons unknown to scientists, the virus reactivates. This results in a painful, yet localized skin rash with blisters that usually follow a single nerve distribution originating at the spine. Because of this very characteristic pattern, it will only be present on one side of the body.
Risk factors for contracting shingles are common, and most people in the community have one or more these risk factors. The risk factor that most people have in common is a history of chicken pox infection or inoculation with the chicken pox vaccine, because now the person may carry the herpes zoster virus that causes shingles. Individuals over 50, and those who are immunosuppressed due to conditions such as HIV, cancer, or organ transplants have a greater chance of getting shingles. As well as those who have decreased ability to fight infection due to stress or other immune deficiencies. However, the bottom line is that the majority of the individuals who contract shingles are relatively healthy individuals.
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Who Should Get Shingrix
Adults 50 years and older should get two doses of Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months. Adults 19 years and older who have or will have weakened immune systems because of disease or therapy should also get two doses of Shingrix. If needed, people with weakened immune systems can get the second dose 1 to 2 months after the first.
You should get Shingrix even if in the past you:
- Received varicella vaccine
There is no maximum age for getting Shingrix.
If you had shingles in the past, Shingrix can help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific length of time that you need to wait after having shingles before you can receive Shingrix, but generally you should make sure the shingles rash has gone away before getting vaccinated.
Chickenpox and shingles are related because they are caused by the same virus . After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in the body. It can reactivate years later and cause shingles.
Shingrix is available in doctors offices and pharmacies.
If you have questions about Shingrix, talk with your healthcare provider.
* A shingles vaccine called zoster vaccine live is no longer available for use in the United States, as of November 18, 2020. If you had Zostavax in the past, you should still get Shingrix. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best time to get Shingrix.
Emergency Warning Signs: When Should I See A Doctor
A singles infection near the eyes or ears can progress into a serious neurological problem causing sensory loss. Get emergency help if the rash appears anywhere on the face or head or inside the mouth or nose.
Treatment for Shingles is available now at Newport Urgent Care in Newport Beach, CA.
For more information on shingles, see the following websites:
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What Does A Shingles Rash Look Like
At the onset, a shingles rash usually appears as a single red band on one side of the body or the face. Unfortunately, the rash gets worse before it gets better. Within a few days, the red area turns into fluid-filled blisters, which will scab over about a week later. The scabs usually clear up within a couple of weeks.
Skin Care And Itch Relief For Shingles
To relieve itching and discomfort, try:
- A cool, wet compresses on the affected skin
- Soothing baths and lotions, such as colloidal oatmeal bath, starch baths, or calamine lotion
- Zostrix, a cream that contains capsaicin
- Antihistamines to reduce itching
Keep your skin clean. Throw away bandages you use to cover your skin sores. Throw away or wash in hot water clothing that has contact with your skin sores. Wash your sheets and towels in hot water.
While your skin sores are still open and oozing, avoid all contact with anyone who has never had chickenpox, especially pregnant women.
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Shingles Can Be Prevented With A Vaccine
The first shingles vaccine was Zostavax, which was approved for use in 2006. In 2017, the Shingrix vaccine became available, and is now the preferred vaccine for preventing shingles. Its recommended that adults ages 50 years and up receive two doses of the Shingrix vaccine, which lowers the rates of shingles and postherpetic neuralgia by 90%.
Will Shingles Go Away Without Treatment
Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a painful rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus . This is the same virus that causes chickenpox.
This virus remains dormant in a part of your nervous system called the dorsal root ganglion. It can be reactivated during times of stress or illness, or when the immune system is weakened by an autoimmune disease or cancer.
The risk of developing shingles is relatively low for healthy young adults about 4 out of 1,000 people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Its much higher for those above age 60. Shingles affects about 1 out of 100 people in this older age group, the CDC says.
Generally, a case of shingles rash resolves within 3 to 4 weeks. It can resolve without treatment, but antiviral treatment can shorten both the duration and severity of the rash.
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What You Need To Know About Shingles
Dr. Jerry Williams of Urgent Care 24/7 discusses what you need to know about Shingles.Shingles are caused by the varicella-zoster virus , the same virus that causes chickenpox. It can be extremely painful and it takes a toll on the elderly and immunocompromised.If your shingles outbreak becomes painful or reaches your face, seek immediate medical care as it can affect your vision.
How Is Shingles Diagnosed And Treated
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 you have shingles and can make a treatment plan. Most cases can be diagnosed from a visual examination. If you have a condition that weakens the immune system, your doctor may order a shingles test. Although there is no cure for shingles, early treatment with antiviral medications can help the blisters clear up faster and limit severe pain. Shingles can often be treated at home.
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Why The Shingles Vaccine Has Gone Viral Today
Shingles is viral infection thats become a concern for millions of people today. But you can reduce your risk for this virus by getting the shingles vaccine. Today, health experts recommend this vaccine to people at risk for shingles, but are you one of the many in danger? Discover all you need to know about the shingles vaccine, such as who should get it, where to get it, shingles vaccine side effects, the shingles vaccine cost, and whether this simple shot is your best shot for protecting yourself from the virus.
Signs of Shingles
Did you know that shingles is caused by the virus responsible for chickenpox? What many people dont know is that this virus can stay in the body for decades and later strike as shingles. And the shingles vaccine is the only way to lower ones risk of shingles. The most common symptoms of shingles include:
When the Shingles Vaccine is Just What the Doctor Ordered
Nearly one million Americans get shingles every year. Research shows that 99% of Americans over age 40 have had chickenpox at some time in their lives. But unlike chickenpox, shingles can strike more than once. While about half of the people who come down with shingles at age 60 or older, the shingles vaccine has been approved for people as young as age 50. And its important to be aware that the risk only increases with age and in people with weakened immune systems.
The Value of the Vaccine
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There Are Several Risk Factors That Increase Your Risk Of Shingles
While anyone whos had chicken pox could get shingles, there are several risk factors that make the virus more likely to re-activate. The biggest risk factor for shingles is age. Patients who are age 50 and up have a much higher incidence of shingles than their younger counterparts. Patients who have HIV, autoimmune disorders or an underactive immune system are also more likely to contract shingles.
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When To Use Urgent Care
Urgent care centers are usually open after normal business hours, including evenings and weekends. Theyre a good option if you cant get in to see your regular doctor and you have moderate, but not severe, symptoms.
In most cases, you’ll find that you save time and money by going to an urgent care center over an ER. Many urgent care centers even offer onsite diagnostic tests for a more complete check-up.
Is Shingles Prevention Possible Is There A Shingles Vaccine
Prevention of shingles in people who have contracted chickenpox is difficult, since the factors that trigger reactivation are not yet defined. However, if a person is never infected with the virus, shingles will not develop. Furthermore, there are at least two methods that are currently used to reduce the incidence of shingles.
First, the VZV vaccine, otherwise known as the chickenpox vaccine, may decrease the incidence of shingles by enhancing the immune system’s ability to fight off VZV or keep this virus inactive. This vaccine is usually administered to children, but the immunity may decline in about 15-20 years. The single-dose vaccine dose is given to babies 12-18 months of age. Most vaccine side effects, if they occur, are mild and range from a rash, skin redness, and swelling to small chickenpox lesions, usually at the injection site. Boosters of this vaccine for use in adults are now being investigated and may help prevent shingles in the future.
Shingrix is the vaccine the CDC currently recommends as the preferred shingles vaccine. Two doses about 2-6 months apart are more than 90% effective in preventing shingles and PHN, and it is recommended for use in people 50 and over. Side effects of Shingrix may occur and last about 2-3 days and may include redness and swelling at the inoculation site. Some individuals may experience muscle pain, headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, and nausea.
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What Does It Mean To Let Shingles Run Its Course
This refers to the typical course a shingles rash takes, even with antiviral treatment: