Rebooting The Nervous System
Its like restarting a computer, Dr. Rosenquist says. When its running slowly or acting weird, you restart it. We are trying to turn that nerve off. When it comes back on, hopefully, it will send an appropriate transmission as opposed to a pain transmission.
Treatmentoptions for PHN patients include:
Patientswith refractory PHN rarely need opioid pain medication. However,you should be evaluated by a physician. We cant make a blanket statement abouttreatment. It is individualized, she says.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Shingles
Often the first shingles symptoms happen in the area where the rash will appear. A person may have tingling, itching, or pain in this area. When the rash shows up, the pain may be mild or severe.
The rash starts as groups of tiny pimples on one side of the body or the face. It’s often in the shape of a band or belt. The pimples change to pus-filled blisters that break open and scab over in about 710 days. The scabs usually heal and fall off about 24 weeks after the rash starts.
Some kids with shingles also may have a fever and a headache, and might feel tired and achy. Rarely, a child has the pain of shingles without the rash. More severe symptoms can happen, but usually in people over age 50.
What Are The Treatments For Shingles
There is no cure for shingles. Antiviral medicines may help to make the attack shorter and less severe. They may also help prevent PHN. The medicines are most effective if you can take them within 3 days after the rash appears. So if you think you might have shingles, contact your health care provider as soon as possible.
Pain relievers may also help with the pain. A cool washcloth, calamine lotion, and oatmeal baths may help relieve some of the itching.
You May Like: Shingrix At Cvs
When To Seek Care
Early shingles symptoms, such as pain or flu-like feelings, are not obvious signs of a shingles outbreak.
Once a rash appears, you should see your primary care physician or a dermatologist. A trained eye can often diagnose shingles by visually inspecting the rash.
If you have shingles, you may never experience the extreme pain that can often come with it. You may only feel itching and some minor discomfort.
Even without the painful symptoms of shingles, its recommended that you see a healthcare professional and start antiviral treatment within 72 hours of a rashs appearance.
Its especially important to seek prompt medical care if a rash forms near one or both eyes. Shingles in the eye may cause permanent vision loss.
How Is Shingles Diagnosed
Doctor usually can diagnose shingles by looking at the rash. Rarely, a doctor may send a small sample of infected skin to be checked in a laboratory.
If you think your child might have shingles, call your doctor. If your child might have shingles on the face, it’s important to get a doctor’s help right away to keep the infection from spreading to the eyes.
Also Check: Cost Of Shingles Shot At Walgreens
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.
What Other Problems Can Shingles Cause
Shingles can cause complications:
- Postherpetic neuralgia is most common complication of shingles. It causes severe pain in the areas where you had the shingles rash. It usually gets better in a few weeks or months. But some people can have pain from PHN for many years, and it can interfere with daily life.
- Vision loss can happen if shingles affects your eye. It may be temporary or permanent.
- Hearing or balance problems are possible if you have shingles within or near your ear. You may also have weakness of the muscles on that side of your face. These problems can be temporary or permanent.
Very rarely, shingles can also lead to pneumonia, brain inflammation , or death.
Recommended Reading: Can I Get A Shingles Shot At Cvs
Is A Vaccine Available To Prevent Shingles
Two vaccines are available in the United States to reduce your chance of developing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. One vaccine, Zostavax®, has been available since 2006. The second vaccine, Shingrix®, has been available since 2017. Shingrix is recommended as the preferred vaccine by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of medical and public health experts.
Shingrix® is given as a two-dose shot in the upper arm. You should receive the second dose two to six months after receiving the first. Shingrix has been shown to be more than 90% effective in preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. Its effectiveness remains above 85% for at least four years after receiving the vaccine.
Due to high levels of demand for the Shingrix vaccine and a supply shortage, the vaccine manufacturer is managing the timing and distribution of the vaccine throughout the United States. It plans to continue to manage the availability of the vaccine and hopes to make available the same or increased number of doses and to shorten the wait time for delivery this year .
How Is Shingles Treated
Treatment is most effective when initiated within 72 hours of the appearance of the rash. Antiviral drugs can help recover faster and reduce the risk of complications.
Shingles rash and blisters can cause severe pain and may not reduce with over-the-counter pain medication. Treatment of pain includes:
- Antiseizure medicines
- Medicated lotions to reduce pain and itching
- Numbing creams
- Over-the-counter pain killers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
- Prescription painkillers such as codeine for intense pain
Read Also: Antiviral Side Effects Shingles
How Long Does Shingles Last
Shingles blisters usually scab over in 7-10 days and disappear completely in two to four weeks. In most healthy people, the blisters leave no scars, and the pain and itching go away after a few weeks or months. But people with weakened immune systems may develop shingles blisters that do not heal in a timely manner.
If Ive Been Vaccinated For Chickenpox Can I Still Develop Shingles Later In Life
Unfortunately, yes, despite being vaccinated for chickenpox, you can still get shingles. No vaccine is 100% protective and the effects of vaccines lessen 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 did not.
Recommended Reading: Shingles On Feet And Ankles
Signs Of Shingles Before The Rash Appears
Before the rash appears, early warning signs of shingles, which may be present, include:
- Itching, burning pain, numbness, tingling in the place where the rash will develop
- Flu-like symptoms such as chills, fever, headache, feeling fatigued or overly tired
- Upset stomach
After the initial skin complaints develop into the shingles rash, the condition typically lasts for two to four weeks. The pain typically worsens as the rash develops and alleviates as it heals.
What Is The Best Way To Treat Pain Associated With Shingles
Dr. Anne Oaklander answers the question: ‘Best Way To Treat Shingles Pain?’
Best Way To Treat Shingles Pain?
— Question: What Is The Best Way To Treat Pain Associated With Shingles?
Answer: Shingles is generally a painful condition. It’s a rash that eats through the skin.
For some patients, they’ll be able to manage without pain medications, particularly if they have only a mild rash. But many patients will need medications for pain management. Some people may find over the counter anti-inflammatory and pain relief is adequate, such as acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen. But substantial numbers of people will need prescribed pain medications by their physician. This should be discussed with your physician because everyone’s situation is difficult.
Some patients, in fact, with severe pain may require admission to the hospital and treatment with intravenous or intraspinous pain medications.
Most people will be able to manage in their homes with prescriptions for medication that may include percocet or vicodin or other similar pain relievers as well as medications aimed at the nerves. These include gabapentin, as well as tricyclic medications such as nortriptyline, desipramine, or amitriptyline.
You May Like: Shingles Vaccine Cost Cvs
How Do You Get Shingles
Shingles usually occurs from inside your own body when the chickenpox virus reactivates. If you have not had chickenpox, you cant get shingles.
If you have not had chickenpox, you can be infected with chickenpox from someone who has shingles. This happens if you come in contact with the fluid from shingles blisters.
You Cannot Get Shingles From Someone With Chickenpox
You cannot get shingles from someone with shingles or chickenpox.
But you can get chickenpox from someone with shingles if you have not had chickenpox before.
When people get chickenpox, the virus remains in the body. It can be reactivated later and cause shingles if someone’s immune system is lowered.
This can be because of stress, certain conditions, or treatments like chemotherapy.
Don’t Miss: What Foods To Eat When You Have Shingles
How Do Dermatologists Diagnose Shingles
A dermatologist can often diagnose shingles by looking at the rash on your skin.
If there is any question about whether you have shingles, your dermatologist will scrape a bit of fluid from a blister. This will be sent to a lab where a doctor will look at the fluid under a high-powered microscope.
When you have shingles, the fluid contains the virus that causes shingles. Seeing the virus confirms that you have shingles.
Your dermatologist will also ask about your symptoms. Shingles tends to be painful.
When the shingles rash spreads to an eye, it can affect your eyesight
You can reduce this risk by seeing an ophthalmologist immediately.
Hows Shingles Without A Rash Diagnosed
Shingles without a rash isnt common, but it may be more common than previously thought because it often goes undiagnosed. Shingles without a rash is difficult to diagnose based on your symptoms alone.
Your doctor may test your blood, cerebrospinal fluid, or saliva to identify the presence of VZV antibodies. This will allow them to confirm a diagnosis of shingles without a rash. However, these tests are often inconclusive.
Your medical history may provide clues that suggest you have shingles without a rash. Your doctor may ask if youve had a recent operation or if youre under increased stress.
Once your doctor suspects you have VZV, theyll use antiviral medicines such as acyclovir to treat the shingles. They may also prescribe drugs for the pain.
Other treatment will vary based on the location and severity of symptoms.
You May Like: Does Cvs Give Free Shingles Shots
Why Does Shingles Appear Mostly On One Side Or In One Area Of The Body
The virus travels in specific nerves, so you will often see shingles occur in a band on one side of the body. This band corresponds to the area where the nerve transmits signals. The shingles rash stays somewhat localized to an area it does not spread over your whole body. The torso is a common area, as is the face.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Ive had chickenpox. Am I at risk of developing shingles?
- What is the best treatment for my shingles?
- The pain from shingles isnt going away. What can I do to make myself more comfortable?
- Im on treatment for shingles. When should I call my doctor if things dont get better?
- I have shingles and my children havent had the chickenpox vaccine. Should I get them vaccinated?
- Is the shingles vaccine right for me?
- Are there any risks associated with the shingles vaccine?
- Will my post-herpetic neuralgia ever go away?
- If Ive never had the chickenpox, should I still get the shingles vaccination?
Don’t Miss: What Is The Cost Of A Shingles Shot At Walgreens
Treatments For Shingles In The Eye
There are a variety of different treatments for shingles in the eye. If your optician diagnoses eye involvement, you may also need topical eye drops. There are two main types of topical eye drops for shingles:
Corticosteroid eye drops Steroid drops can reduce the eye inflammation caused by shingles, Rapuano says. This lowers the chances of complications from shingles of the eye.
Pupil-dilating eye drops Your optician also may prescribe eye drops to keep the pupils open for pain relief due to an internal ocular inflammation caused by shingles.
Who Is At Risk From Shingles
Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk of getting shingles later in life. About one in three people who have not been immunised against chickenpox or shingles will get shingles in their lifetime.
Shingles usually affects older people. The older you are if you get shingles, the higher your risk of getting serious disease. People who have a weakened immune system are also at risk of getting more severe disease, even if they are young.
Read Also: Shingles Vaccine Cvs Appointment
Treat Your Body And Mind
You can get worn down mentally when youâre in constant pain. Stress can make it seem even worse. Self-care starts with treating your rash, but donât stop there. Your mind and emotional state need to be cared for as well.
5. Stick with good habits: Your bodyâs working hard to fight the varicella-zoster virus that causes shingles. To give it the right support, you can:
- Eat nutritious food and have regular meals. Ask someone to make a run to the grocery store for fresh fruit and such if youâre not up for it.
- Try to get a good nightâs sleep and rest anytime you need to.
- Do gentle exercises, such as walking or stretching. Light activity can help take your mind off the pain. Keep it simple though, and check with your doctor if youâre trying something new.
6. Distract yourself: Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to put your focus elsewhere. Here are a few things to try: