Is It Possible To Avoid Shingles
Most people get shingles only once, but it is possible to get it two or more times.
Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles later in life. There is a shingles vaccine that may help prevent shingles, or make it less painful. The vaccine is recommended for adults ages 60 and older, even if theyve previous had shingles.
For children and adults who never had chickenpox, there is a vaccine that can help avoid getting the virus that causes both chickenpox and shingles.
For anyone who has never had chickenpox and has not received the chickenpox vaccine, it is best to avoid contact with people who have shingles or chickenpox. Fluid from shingles blisters is contagious and can cause chickenpox, but not shingles.
What Are The Risk Factors For Internal Shingles
Many of the risk factors for internal shingles are the same as those for the skin rash of shingles. They include:
- Having a weakened immune system. Diseases and conditions such as HIV/AIDS, organ transplant, and autoimmune conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or inflammatory bowel disease can make you more susceptible to shingles.
- Undergoing cancer treatment. Cancer, along with radiation and chemotherapy, also weaken your immune system and can increase your risk of a herpes zoster infection.
- Being older than 60. Shingles can occur in people of any age. However, its more common in older adults. About half the cases of shingles develop in people over 60 .
- Taking certain medications. Drugs that lower your chance of rejecting an organ transplant or treat autoimmune diseases will increase your risk of shingles. Examples include cyclosporine and tacrolimus . Extended use of steroids will also increase your risk. These medications suppress your immune system, making your body more vulnerable to infection.
Not receiving the shingles vaccine will also increase your chances of getting the condition. Even if you dont remember ever having chickenpox, you should get the shingles vaccine. Studies have shown that 99 percent of people over 40 have had chickenpox. According to the
Can You Do Regular Activities With Shingles
Whether or not you can continue with your regular activities while dealing with an active shingles infection depends on how you feel and whether youre still contagious.
Some people experience minor symptoms, while others have severe pain, itching, burning, and widespread, fluid-filled blisters for several weeks.
If your rash is oozing, you can spread shingles to other people. If the rash hasnt scabbed over yet, and its in an area that cant be covered, consider:
- staying home from work, school, or other daily activities where you interact with others
- avoiding contact sports and swimming
- not sharing towels, blankets, or clothes without washing them first
Additionally, shingles can cause flu-like symptoms like fever, headache, and upset stomach, which can derail your regular daily activities.
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Can I Go To Work With Shingles
You can go to work if you have shingles and are no longer contagious. However, you may need to wait until youre feeling better. Shingles can be excruciating and debilitating.
Youre no longer contagious when the rash and blisters begin to scab over. This is typically 10 days after the rash first crops up.
Stay Away From Certain Groups Of People If You Have Shingles
You cannot spread shingles to others. But people who have not had chickenpox before could catch chickenpox from you.
This is because shingles is caused by the chickenpox virus.
Try to avoid:
- pregnant people who have not had chickenpox before
- people with a weakened immune system like someone having chemotherapy
- babies less than 1 month old unless you gave birth to them, as your baby should be protected from the virus by your immune system
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Where Can I Find More Information About Research On Shingles
In addition to the NINDS, several other NIH organizations support research relevant to understanding, treating, or preventing shingles and its complications, including the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institute on Aging .
- NIH RePORTER is a searchable database of current and previously funded research supported by NIH and some other federal agencies. RePORTER also includes links to research results such as patents and publications citing support from these projects.
- PubMed allows users to search millions of journal article abstracts in biomedical research fields. The full text of many articles describing research funded by NIH and other sources is also freely available through PubMedCentral
Are Internal Shingles Contagious
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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.
Avoid Intense Or Irritating Movement
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, shingles rashes most often appear on the trunk of the body, which includes your:
Shingles rashes can also occur on the:
With that in mind, its best to avoid activities that require you to lay on these areas, like exercising on the floor or a workout bench. For instance, if youre doing gentle yoga, skip any poses that have you lying in the prone or supine position, where your belly or back are touching the floor, respectively.
Additionally, intense cardiovascular exercise like running or cycling may irritate a shingles rash, especially in the early stages.
As you heal, consider switching to lower-intensity workouts like walking until the blisters dry up and crust over. According to the National Institute on Aging , this generally takes around 7 to 10 days after a rash appears.
If possible, hold off on high intensity exercise until the scabs are completely cleared up, which may take 2 to 5 weeks.
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What Causes Internal Shingles
The varicella zoster virus causes shingles. Its the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a bout of chickenpox, the virus becomes dormant in the body and settles in certain nerves and tissue of the nervous system. Later in life, the virus can reactivate and present itself as shingles. Shingles typically appears on the skin along the nerve path where it had been previously dormant. If the reactivation of the virus becomes severe, it can affect not only the skin but other organs too. This is what is called systemic or internal shingles.
What To Do If You Have Shingles
Antiviral drugs are used against the varicella zoster virus. These medications help shorten the course of the illness, decrease its severity, and hasten healing of the skin lesions. They may also help prevent the potential complications sometimes encountered with shingles.
Antiviral medications are most effective when started within 72 hours of the first appearance of the rash. However, in select cases of shingles , it can be started after 72 hours.
There are several antiviral medications that can be used, including:
In certain situations, intravenous antiviral medication may need to be administered.
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How Long Does It Take To Recover
As your shingles infection clears up, your oral symptoms will get better.
In general, the blisters begin to scab after 7 to 10 days. It takes 3 to 5 weeks for the infection to clear, but the pain can last for weeks or months.
To work toward a speedy recovery, be sure to carefully follow your doctors treatment plan. Its also important to take care of yourself at home. This includes practicing self-care as mentioned above.
Other things you can do to improve your shingles recovery include:
Do You Need To Stay Away From Children People Who Are Pregnant Have Cancer Or Anyone With A Weak Immune System After You Get The Zostavax Vaccine
According to the CDC, its safe to be around babies and young children, pregnant women or anyone with a weakened immune system after you get the Zostavax vaccine. Even though the Zostavax vaccine contains a weakened live varicella-zoster virus, the CDC says theres no documented case of a person getting chickenpox from someone who has received the Zostavax vaccine. And remember: You cant get shingles unless youve already had chickenpox.
What Is The Varicella
The word varicella is derived from variola, the Latin word for smallpox. Zoster is the Greek word for girdle shingles often produces a girdle or belt of blisters or lesions around one side of the waist. This striking pattern also underlies the conditions common name: shingles comes from cingulum, the Latin word for belt or girdle.
VZV belongs to a group of viruses called herpesviruses. This group includes the herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores, fever blisters, and genital herpes. Like VZV, HSV can hide in the nervous system after an initial infection and then travel down nerve cell fibers to cause a renewed infection. Repeated episodes of cold sores on the lips are the most common example.
Most adults in the United States have had chickenpox, even if it was so mild as to pass unnoticed, and they are at risk for developing shingles later in life. In the original exposure to VZV , some of the virus particles settle into nerve cells of sensory ganglia , where they remain for many years in an inactive, hidden form. The neurons in the sensory ganglia have nerve fibers that supply the skin and relay information to the brain about what the body is sensingheat, cold, touch, pain.
Zoster Sine Herpete Is A Rare Form Of Shingles That Doesn’t Cause A Rash
Most people with shingles have a telltale rash on one side of their body, but it is possible to have shingles without a rash. It’s called zoster sine herpete or internal shingles. It’s caused by the same virus, varicella-zoster virus , that causes chickenpox and typical shingles .
Internal shingles still causes pain and itchingjust without the rashalong with other symptoms. Because healthcare providers may not recognize it as a shingles infection, ZSH infections may be more common than previously thought.
This article explores the differences in symptoms, the additional complications ZSH can cause, how it’s diagnosed and treated, and how you can cope with it.
Getty Images / Oscar Wong
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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.
How Are Chickenpox And Shingles Different
When a person, usually a child, who has not received the chickenpox vaccine is exposed to VZV, he or she usually develops chickenpox, a highly contagious disease that can be spread by breathing as well as by contact with the rash. The infection begins in the upper respiratory tract where the virus incubates for 15 days or more. VZV then spreads to the bloodstream and migrates to the skin, giving rise to the familiar chickenpox rash.
In contrast, you cant catch shingles from someone else. You must already have been exposed to chickenpox and harbor the virus in your nervous system to develop shingles. When reactivated, the virus travels down nerves to the skin, causing the painful shingles rash. In shingles, the virus does not normally spread to the bloodstream or lungs, so the virus is not shed in air.
But a person with a shingles rashwhich contains active virus particlescan pass the virus to someone who has never had chickenpox or who has not been vaccinated. In this case, the person will develop chickenpox, not shingles. A person must come into direct contact with the open sores of the shingles rash. Merely being in the same room with someone who has shingles will not cause chickenpox. Children who develop chicken pox generally fully recover however, adults who develop chicken pox can become seriously ill.
Likewise, a person with chickenpox cannot give shingles to someone elsebut they can pass the virus to someone who has never had chickenpox.
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Internal Shingles: Risks And Complications
- Internal shingles, also known as zoster sine herpete , is a reactivation of the varicella virus without a rash. This virus is the one that causes chickenpox, and it remains in the body even after that condition resolves. This reactivation causes shingles, typically characterized by the development of a severe rash.
How Is Shingles Diagnosed
As with most other diseases, doctors will typically review your symptoms first. Be sure to take note of how long youve experienced symptoms, what your exact symptoms are, and their severity. Doctors may suspect internal shingles if your symptoms involve more than your skin. They will often suspect eye or nervous system involvement based on the location of the shingles rash. However, if you have a painful rash along with a cough, severe headache, or abdominal pain, you may have a more serious complication of shingles.
Doctors may perform the following tests to confirm your diagnosis of shingles:
- direct fluorescence antibody stain
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Can You Still Develop Shingles If Youve Been Vaccinated For Chickenpox
Yes. Despite being vaccinated for chickenpox, you can still get shingles. No vaccine is 100% protective, and the effectiveness of vaccines lessens with time. However, people who get the chickenpox vaccine are significantly less likely to develop shingles later in life compared with people who never received the chickenpox vaccine. One recent 12-year study found that the number of shingles cases was 72% lower in children who had received the chickenpox vaccine compared with those who didnt.
If My Shingles Rash Is Mild Or Has Mostly Healed Do I Need To See A Doctor
Its a good idea to see a doctor whenever you have a case of shingles, no matter how mild.
Prompt antiviral treatment not only decreases the duration and severity of the rash but can also decrease the chance of developing post-herpetic neuralgia. Post-herpetic neuralgia is a complication of shingles characterized by long-term, debilitating pain.
If your rash has mostly healed, its still a good idea to see a doctor so they can monitor the rash for changes or complications, such as a bacterial skin infection that forms on top of your existing rash. This is known as a superimposed infection.
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What Is Postherpetic Neuralgia
Sometimes, particularly in older people, shingles pain persists long after the rash has healed. This is postherpetic neuralgia, defined as pain lasting three months after onset of the rash. Pain can be mild or severethe most severe cases can lead to insomnia, weight loss, depression, and disability. There may be other sensations, such as tingling, coldness, or loss of feeling. About 20 percent of people age 70 or greater who develop shingles may have long-lasting pain. Postherpetic neuralgia is not directly life-threatening and may get better over time.
About a dozen medications in four categories have been shown in clinical trials to provide some pain relief for postherpetic neuralgia. These include:
Tricyclic antidepressants : TCAs are often the first type of drug given to people suffering from postherpetic neuralgia. The TCA amitryptiline was commonly prescribed in the past, but although effective, it has a high rate of side effects. Desipramine and nortriptyline have fewer side effects and are therefore better choices for older adults, the most likely group to have postherpetic neuralgia.
Common side effects of TCAs include dry eyes and mouth, constipation, and impaired memory. People with heart arrhythmias , previous heart attacks, or narrow angle glaucoma should usually use a different class of drugs.