Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Can You Have Shingles Without Breaking Out In A Rash

Shingles Rash On Shoulder

Mayo Clinic Minute: Don’t suffer with shingles

Shingles is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you have chickenpox, the virus stays in your body. It may not cause problems for many years. As you get older, the virus may reappear as shingles. Although it is most common in people over age 50, anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk. Unlike chickenpox, you cant catch shingles from .

The Shingles Rash Usually Occurs On One Side Of The Body Or Face Most Commonly On The Trunk

Its easy to mistake a shingles rash for another health condition that affects the skin. The shingles virus typically causes a painful rash and blisters, which can resemble many other skin conditions psoriasis, eczema, and hives among them. However, there are a few signs that your rash is more likely to be shingles than something else.

To get shingles, you must have had chickenpox. Shingles, or herpes zoster, occurs when the chickenpox virus reactivates after lying dormant in the body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 out of 3 people in the United States will get shingles in their lifetime. While your risk of getting shingles increases as you age, anyone can get it if they had chickenpox, notes the CDC.

About half of all shingles cases occur in adults age 60 or older, and the risk of getting shingles becomes much greater by age 70, according to the National Institute on Aging.

Can Shingles Be Prevented Or Avoided

The best way to prevent shingles is through vaccination. Vaccinate your children for chickenpox. This vaccine reduces their risk for getting chickenpox. You cant get shingles unless youve had chickenpox first.

When you are older, get the shingles vaccine. It is recommended for adults 50 years of age and older. It can prevent shingles. People who have had shingles should get the vaccine to help stop the disease from reoccurring. Common side effects of the vaccine are headache, plus redness, swelling, itching, and soreness at the injection site.

The shingles vaccine is not recommended for anyone who:

  • Has had an allergic reaction to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin
  • Has an allergy to any component of the shingles vaccine
  • Has a weakened immune system due to conditions such as leukemia, HIV, or AIDS
  • Is receiving treatment for cancer
  • Is being treated with drugs that suppress their immune system, including high-dose steroids
  • Is pregnant or might become pregnant within 4 weeks of getting the vaccine

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How Is Postherpetic Neuralgia Treated

Treatments include lotions or creams and/or other medications not specifically used for pain, such as antidepressants or drugs for epilepsy. Regular pain relievers are not usually effective for this type of pain.

If pain doesnt lessen, other treatments such as nerve blocks or steroid injections near the area where the nerves exit the spine can be tried. Implantable nerve stimulator devices are an option for severe, ongoing pain that has not responded to other treatments.

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What Can Be Mistaken For Shingles

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Shingles can sometimes be mistaken for another skin conditions, such as hives, psoriasis, or eczema. Share on Pinterest A doctor should always be consulted if shingles is suspected. The characteristics of a rash may help doctors identify the cause. For example, hives are often raised and look like welts.

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What Does The Shingles Rash Look Like

The varicella zoster virus which causes shingles lies dormant in the nervous system, so the rash will appear in a dermatomal pattern a band or area of skin on the body corresponding to a particular set of nerves. The shingles rash usually appears on the face, neck or one side of the torso.

Good to know: If the relevant nerves are affected, it is also possible to experience shingles on the leg. It is relatively unusual, but also possible, to develop the shingles rash in more than one area of the body, i.e. in relation to more than one set of nerves. Even more rarely and especially in people with a compromised immune system, three or more dermatomes may be affected. This is a form of the condition known as disseminated zoster.

As the condition progresses, the rash site develops blisters which fill with clear fluid. Because shingles interacts with a personâs nervous system, the rash is often accompanied by an intense, stabbing pain which worsens as it develops. The area affected by the rash may be hypersensitive to touch, which can render it difficult to dress or to sleep in certain positions.

A person with shingles is contagious to others in the period when their rash is blistering. During this period, a person should avoid physical contact with others, in particular, certain population groups, including:

How To Tests For The Virus

Once you have a symptom, see your doctor to test your blood, cerebrospinal fluid, or saliva to identify if the presence of VZV antibodies exists. An antibody test would indicate that you have been exposed to varicella-zoster because your immune system makes proteins to fight the virus. Your doctor will look for these proteins, which are called antibodies. The doctor can confirm a diagnosis of shingles without a rash present. However, these tests can be inconclusive. Your doctor will review your medical history to provide clues that suggest you have shingles without a rash.

Another way of diagnosing shingles is a history of pain on one side of your body, together with the telltale rash and blisters. Your doctor may decide to take a culture or tissue scraping of the blisters for examination in the laboratory.

Also Check: Can You Get Shingles On Your Chest

Symptoms Of Zoster Sine Herpete

Zoster sine herpete is not common and can be hard to diagnose as the most common and differentiating shingles rash is not present. Other symptoms of ZSH are similar to regular shingles, which include:

Pain

Shingles is a very painful disease. This pain is typically described as a deep boring or stabbing sensation that is very severe. Because of the impact on the nervous system this pain may have an electric feel to it. In many cases pain will only affect one side of the body and will be localized to a specific area of the skin, though the disease can affect as many as three spinal nerves at a time. As the disease affects the skin, patients may experience a prickling, itching, or numbness on the skin as well.

Flu-like Symptoms

Patients will often develop flu-like symptoms just before the skin lesions appear. This can include body or muscle aches, headaches, mild fever, a general feeling of illness or poor appetite. These symptoms can last as long as 7-10 days. It is important to note that unlike a cold, patients will not develop a runny nose or cough when suffering from shingles.

Movement Problems

Other Symptoms

  • Pain radiating from your spine
  • Sensitive to touch

What Rash Mimics Shingles

How to treat shingles

Measles: Another Viral Infection Like the shingles rash and herpes simplex, measles is caused by a virus. Measles is highly contagious symptoms of measles include a fever followed by coughing and a runny nose. An itchy skin rash appears, normally starting around the face and neck and spreading down the body.

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

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.

Complications Of Shingles Without Rash

Complications from shingles can be very severe, particularly if the outbreak goes untreated.

  • Postherpetic Neuralgia-This condition is caused when the nerve fibers become confused after their interaction with the shingles virus. Postherpetic neuralgia will cause the nerves to send exaggerated feelings of pain from the skin to the brain, even after the shingles outbreak has healed.
  • Neurological Problems-Nerves can become permanently damaged after suffering from a shingles outbreak. Facial paralysis, hearing problems, balance problems or inflammation of the brain are all possible side effects.
  • Vision Loss-If a shingles outbreak occurs around the eye it can cause a severe infection. This may cause vision damage or permanent vision loss.

Also Check: How To Treat Shingles Naturally

Treatments For Other Problems Caused By Shingles

In some cases, shingles causes long-term problems. Treatment depends on what the problem is.

  • Disseminated zoster. This is a blistery rash over a large portion of the body. It may affect the heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, joints, and intestinal tract. Treatment is done in the hospital. It may include antiviral medicines to prevent the virus from multiplying and antibiotics to stop infection.
  • Herpes zoster ophthalmicus. This is a rash on the forehead, cheek, nose, and around one eye. It could threaten your sight. Get treatment from an ophthalmologist right away. Treatment may include antiviral medicines and steroid eye drops.
  • If the shingles virus affects the nerves that begin in the brain , serious problems involving the face, eyes, nose, and brain can occur. Treatment depends on what the problem is and where it is.

Contact Dermatitis Can Cause A Rash And Blisters

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Contact dermatitis can also cause a rash, blisters, itching, and burning, per the ACAAI. It occurs when the skin comes into contact with an irritant or an allergen, such as soaps, laundry detergents, shampoos, metals, medications, and more. Allergens like poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac can cause red, itchy rashes that may include blisters. Treatment can offer relief and aid healing.

Read Also: Can You Get Shingles From The Vaccine

Herpes Simplex Is Mistaken For The Shingles Rash

Herpes simplex type 1 causes blisters or sores on the mouth, lips, and face, and is transmitted by contact with saliva containing the virus. Herpes simplex type 2 is sexually transmitted and causes similar sores and ulcers on and around the genitals. Either type of herpes remains dormant in the body and can cause future outbreaks. The blisters caused by herpes simplex could be mistaken for those caused by the shingles virus, but herpes sores are usually localized around the mouth or genitals.

When Should I Get The Shingles Vaccine

The current shingles vaccine is a safe, easy, and more effective way to prevent shingles than the previous vaccine. In fact, it is over 90% effective at preventing shingles. Most adults age 50 and older should get vaccinated with the shingles vaccine, which is given in two doses. You can get the shingles vaccine at your doctors office and at some pharmacies.

You should get the shingles vaccine if you:

  • Have already had chickenpox, the chickenpox vaccine, or shingles
  • Received the prior shingles vaccine called Zostavax
  • Dont remember having had chickenpox

Medicare Part D and private health insurance plans may cover some or all of the cost. Check with Medicare or your health plan to find out if it is covered.

You should not get vaccinated if you:

  • Currently have shingles
  • Are sick or have a fever
  • Had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of the shingles vaccine

If you are unsure about the above criteria or have other health concerns, talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine.

Read Also: Is The Shingles Vaccine Covered By Medicare Advantage Plans

You Can Get Chickenpox As An Adult

The majority of cases occur in kidsbut if you never had chickenpox and youre exposed to the varicella zoster virus as an adult, you can certainly still come down with the illness. And unfortunately, youre probably in for a worse ride: Its usually milder in kids, says Dr. Parsons, also a dermatologist in private practice at Dermatology Consultants of Sacramento. In adults, the virus can be severe, potentially even leading to pneumonia or meningitis, she says.

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What Causes Shingles

How to prevent painful rash of Shingles

Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After youve had chickenpox, the virus goes dormant in your body. It stays inside certain nerve cells. Your immune system keeps the virus in these cells. As you get older, your immune system may get weaker. If this happens, the virus may reactivate, causing shingles. Many times this happens years after youve had chickenpox. If you have had the chickenpox vaccine, you are less likely to get chickenpox. Therefore, youre less likely to later develop shingles.

Most people who get shingles are over 50 years of age or have a weak immune system. For example, you might get shingles if you:

Also Check: What Triggers An Outbreak Of Shingles

Could It Be Shingles

If youre an older adult and experiencing a blistery rash, the most likely answer is that youve got shingles, 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.

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Shingles Symptoms And Treatment

Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash. Shingles is caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Older adults and individuals with a weakened immune system are at greatest risk for developing shingles. Shingles symptoms and signs include. one-sided stabbing pain, headache,

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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.

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Am I At Risk For Shingles

Everyone who has had chickenpox is at risk for developing shingles. Researchers do not fully understand what makes the virus become active and cause shingles. But some things make it more likely:

  • Older age. The risk of developing shingles increases as you age. About half of all shingles cases are in adults age 60 or older. The chance of getting shingles becomes much greater by age 70.
  • Trouble fighting infections. Your immune system is the part of your body that responds to infections. Age can affect your immune system. So can HIV, cancer, cancer treatments, too much sun, and organ transplant drugs. Even stress or a cold can weaken your immune system for a short time. These all can put you at risk for shingles.

Most people only have shingles one time. However, it is possible to have it more than once.

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Will Shingles Go Away On Its Own

Shingles isn’t life-threatening, but it can be incredibly painful and, in some cases, complications can arise. While this rash typically goes away its own, prompt treatment can reduce your pain and help shingles go away faster.

“Several antivirals can be used to treat shingles. These drugs can help you heal more quickly and reduce your pain, but they are most effective when started within 72 hours of your rash appearing. This means it’s important to see your doctor as soon as you suspect shingles,” says Dr. Brown. “When it comes to the pain associated with shingles, most people are able to manage it using over-the-counter pain relievers. But, pain can be severe for some people. In these cases, your doctor can prescribe stronger pain medications.”

Beyond treating your immediate pain and rash, seeing your doctor is also important since serious complications can occur as a result of shingles, such as:

  • Postherpetic neuralgia pain that lasts for months to years after the rash clears, with this pain being debilitating in some cases
  • Skin infection occurs if the open sores of your rash become infected with bacteria, which can require antibiotics and delay healing
  • Vision problems while rare, if your rash develops near your eye, the associated inflammation can damage your retina and, in some cases, result in vision loss

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