What Can I Do For The Pain
Not everyone has the same amount of pain from shingles. Over-the-counter pain medicine like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help ease the pain. A liquid medicine that you put on your skin can help cool the rash and stop the itching. Your doctor can give you pain medicine if your rash hurts a lot.
Sometimes the pain does not go away with the rash. This is called postherpetic neuralgia .
Preventing The Virus Spreading
If you have the shingles rash, do not share towels or flannels, go swimming, or play contact sports. This will help prevent the virus being passed on to someone who has not had chickenpox.
You should also avoid work or school if your rash is weeping and cannot be covered.
Chickenpox can be particularly dangerous for certain groups of people. If you have shingles, avoid:
- women who are pregnant and have not had chickenpox before as they could catch it from you, which may harm their unborn baby
- people who have a weak immune system, such as someone with HIV or AIDS
- babies less than one month old, unless it is your own baby, in which case your baby should have antibodies to protect them from the virus
Once your blisters have dried and scabbed over, you are no longer contagious and will not need to avoid anyone.
Do You Always Get The Typical Rash If You Have Shingles
Occasionally, some people dont get a rash. If you have any of the other symptoms of shingles , see your healthcare provider sooner rather than later. There are effective treatments you can take early for shingles. Even if you dont have shingles, seeing your healthcare provider will help you get your condition diagnosed and treated.
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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?
Treatment Of Pain After Shingles
Treatment for people with PHN may include:
- Nerve blocks: Local anesthetic or alcohol injected directly into the nerve affected
- Thoracic epidural injections: Local injection in the space around the spinal cord
- Antidepressant medications: Such as amitriptyline
- Membrane stabilizers: Such as gabapentin
- Capsaicinapplication: Topical cream applied to the affected area
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Can Other People Catch Shingles
This one is confusing! You can catch chickenpox from other people, but you can’t catch shingles from other people. You only get shingles from a reactivation of your own chickenpox infection in the past.
So if you have shingles, and you come into contact with somebody else, they cannot ‘catch’ your shingles. But if they have never had chickenpox, it is possible that they could catch chickenpox from you.
To put it another way, no, you don’t ‘catch’ shingles. It comes from a virus hiding out in your own body, not from someone else. But if you have shingles, you may be infectious, as it is possible for people to catch chickenpox from you.
Only people who have never had chickenpox are likely to be at risk of catching chickenpox from your shingles. People who have had chickenpox should be immune from catching it again. If the rash is in a covered area of skin, the risk of anyone with whom you are not in close contact catching chickenpox is very low.
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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If You Have More Than One Area Of Blisters What Can You Expect If You Go To The Hospital
Its important to note that most people with shingles dont need to be in a hospital, but if you do:
- Youll be in a contact isolation room.
- The door will be kept closed.
- A sign on your door will remind people who have never had chickenpox or the vaccine not to enter.
- The sign will also remind staff to wear gowns and gloves when entering the room.
When Should I See A Doctor Because Of The Side Effects I Experience From Shingrix
Shingrix causes a strong response in your immune system, so it may produce short-term side effects. These side effects can be uncomfortable, but they are expected and usually go away on their own in 2 or 3 days. You may choose to take over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Contact your healthcare provider if the symptoms are not improving or if they are getting worse.
In clinical trials, Shingrix was not associated with serious adverse events. In fact, serious side effects from vaccines are extremely rare. For example, for every 1 million doses of a vaccine given, only one or two people might have a severe allergic reaction. Signs of an allergic reaction happen within minutes or hours after vaccination and include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness. If you experience these or any other life-threatening symptoms, see a doctor right away.
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Is The Zostavax Vaccine Still Being Used
Yes. The CDC, however, recommends Zostavax for adults age 60 and older, but not routinely for people aged 50 to 59. Zostavax is given as a single-dose shot versus the two-dose shot for Shingrix. Zostavax is less effective than Shingrix in preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia .
You can consider Zostavax if you are allergic to Shingrix or if Shingrix is unavailable because of supply shortage and you want some immediate protection from a possible case of shingles and/or postherpetic neuralgia. Because its a weakened live vaccine, it may be dangerous if you have cancer, HIV, or take steroids, chemotherapy or other medications that suppress your immune system. Ask your healthcare provider if the Zostavax vaccine is an option for you.
Coping With Shingles Pain
If you have shingles, you may be wondering how to cope with the pain:
- Be sure to get plenty of sleep and eat a healthy diet to help boost your immune system.
- Wear comfortable, loose clothing with natural fiber .
- Establish or maintain a regular exercise routine.
- Utilize home remedies to help soothe pain from blisters.
- Engage in activities that help take your mind off of the pain.
- Establish a routine to help manage stress.
- Seek out support when needed from family and friends as well as professional supportive services.
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How To Safely Treat & Prevent Chickenpox
The good news is that there are other ways to help manage chickenpox symptoms that dont involve using NSAIDs. For instance, you can use acetaminophen, which doesnt contain aspirin.
Some common ways to manage the pain, itching, and fever include:
- Taking a cool bath with baking soda and/or oatmeal
- Cut fingernails so theres less scabbing when itching occurs
- Drink water instead of sugary or caffeinated liquids
The chickenpox vaccine comes in two separate doses. For children, the first dose should be taken when they are around 12 months and the next dosage can be administered when they are four.
If you are traveling internationally, you should also get the chickenpox vaccine if you didnt receive it when you were a child. It is not required for entry to any country, but you increase your risk of contracting the disease if you do not get the vaccine. As a rule of thumb, its always better to protect yourself.
If youre heading to a foreign country or still have questions about the chickenpox vaccine, Passport Health can help. Book an appointment online or call to meet with a travel health specialist.
Do you have any questions about chickenpox? Do you have any other tips to help deal with the painful symptoms? Let us know in the comments, or via and .
Oral Pain Relief Medicines
e.g. paracetamol , aspirin ibuprofen
e.g. paracetamol, ibuprofen diclofenac , naproxen
- paracetamol, aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories , which include ibuprofen, diclofenac and naproxen, relieve pain and reduce fever
- paracetamol is a safe choice for most people, but it is important not to take more than recommended. Paracetamol is an ingredient in many cold and flu remedies, so be careful not to double dose
- the maximum daily dose of paracetamol for an adult is 4 g , and no more than 1 g every 4 hours.
- aspirin and NSAIDs are not suitable for everyone. Children under 16 years old must not take aspirin because it can cause Reyes syndrome, which is a serious condition. It should also be avoided by adolescents under 16 years old who have a viral illness
- check with your pharmacist before taking aspirin or NSAIDs if you:
- have a history of stomach problems, such as ulcers or indigestion
- have asthma some asthmatics find their condition is made worse by these types of medicines
- have kidney problems or a heart condition
- take other medications
- have bleeding or bruising problems
- have an allergy to aspirin or NSAIDs
- are pregnant or breastfeeding
- are elderly you may be at more risk of side effects
- are due to have any type of surgery within the next couple of days
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Can You Get Shingles If You Havent Had Chickenpox
No. You cant get shingles if youve never had chickenpox, but you can get chickenpox from someone who has shingles. If youve never had chickenpox and you come into direct contact with the oozing, blister-like rash of someone with shingles, the varicella-zoster virus can infect you and you would develop chickenpox.
Once youve had chickenpox, you could develop shingles at some point in your life. This is because the varicella-zoster virus never fully goes away after youve had chickenpox. It lies quietly inactive in your nerve tissue. Later in life, the virus may become active again and appears as shingles.
Can you get chickenpox more than once?
Its rare to get chickenpox twice in your life. Once youve had chickenpox, youre usually immune to it for the rest of your life. However, its not totally impossible. If you have a severely weakened immune system , you can get chickenpox a second time. If youve had chickenpox, you are more likely to get shingles at some point in your life than a repeat bout of chickenpox.
What You Can Do About Nerve Pain That Lingers After Shingles
Chronic pain that continues after a case of shingles is called postherpetic neuralgia . It is estimated that about 20% of patients will experience this type of nerve pain as a complication of shingles.
Those who have had chickenpox are at risk of developing shingles later in life. People who develop PHN are generally age 60 and older. Although there is no cure for PHN, there are several methods of pain management that can ease symptoms. Fortunately, the type of pain that arises from postherpetic neuralgia improves over time.
Neuralgia affects the nerves, causing structural and functional damage. It can feel like a stabbing or burning pain that radiates along the affected nerve.
Neuropathic pain is not caused by an external injury or stimuli but originates from inside the nervous system. When the herpes-varicella zoster virus is reactivated in the form of shingles, scar tissue forms alongside nerves, creating pressure, and sending pain signals to the brain.
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How Do I Spot A Severe Reaction
Severe reaction with the shingles vaccine is rarebut possible. I would say if you get a very robust response with shaking and chills, call your physician for directions on how to proceed, says Dr. Lee. If you break out in hives or have difficulty breathing, it could be an allergic reaction,” meaning you need to be seen by a doctor, STAT. Dr. Lee says she hasnt seen it with Shingrix in her practice. That said, as with all immunizations, there is a small risk of a reaction occurring.
When Should I Schedule The Shots
Knowing that you may feel a bit off after getting the shot, pick your vaccine dates carefully. I tell my patients to choose a day for each shot when they know theyre not going to be doing much in the following days, says Dr. Lee. I don’t recommend you take it before your wedding or a really awesome vacation. Ideally, schedule each dose on a Friday so you have the weekend to recoup, she adds. You have a two-to-six-month window to get your second shot. If you go past the six-month mark, tell your doc and schedule it ASAP.
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Antiviral Medicines For Shingles
Antiviral medicines used to treat shingles include aciclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir. An antiviral medicine is not a cure for shingles, it does not kill the virus but works by stopping the virus from multiplying. So, it may limit the severity of symptoms of the shingles episode.
An antiviral medicine is most useful when started in the early stages of shingles . However, in some cases your doctor may still advise you have an antiviral medicine even if the rash is more than 72 hours old – particularly in elderly people with severe shingles, or if shingles affects an eye.
Antiviral medicines are not advised routinely for everybody with shingles. As a general rule, the following groups of people who develop shingles will normally be advised to take an antiviral medicine:
- If you are over the age of 50. The older you are, the more risk there is of severe shingles or complications developing and the more likely you are to benefit from treatment.
- If you are of any age and have any of the following:
- Shingles that affects the eye or ear.
- A poorly functioning immune system .
- Shingles that affects any parts of the body apart from the trunk .
- Moderate or severe pain.
If prescribed, a course of an antiviral medicine normally lasts seven days.
If You Get The Shingles Vaccine Does This Mean Youre 100% Protected From Getting Shingles
No. Just like most vaccines, getting vaccinated with a shingles vaccine doesnt provide 100% protection from disease. However, getting the shingles vaccine reduces your risk of developing shingles.
Even if you do develop shingles, youll be more likely to have a mild case. Also, youll be much less likely to develop postherpetic neuralgia, a painful condition that can follow a shingles outbreak.
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Have Pain Meds Handyjust In Case
There is no need to do anything before your vaccine, Dr. Patel says. Most people have very mild symptoms such as soreness of the arm at the site of the injection, so be sure to choose the non-dominant arm, she says. However, if after getting the vaccine you have a fever or feel achy, she suggests taking an over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Symptoms should resolve in a day or two,” she says.
In rare cases, a patient may have an anaphylactic reaction. Signs of this serious side effect include swelling of the face, dizziness, and trouble breathing. If these are symptoms you experience, seek medical assistance immediately, Dr. Patel says.
Treatment For Shingles Rash And Pain
Medications and lifestyle changes can provide relief.
Despite the availability of a highly effective vaccine, an estimated 1 million Americans develop shingles each year.1 Early diagnosis and treatment are key to limiting the severity of the outbreak as well as its associated complications, including nerve damage. There are also simple at-home remedies that can help patients stay as comfortable as possible.
Antiviral medications should be started within 72 hours of the first shingles symptoms. The three antivirals most often prescribed are acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir. They help the shingles rash crust over, dry up, and heal, shortening the course of the infection.
Pain is a major factor with shingles. Patients can consult with their health care provider on over-the-counter and prescription options to manage it. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen can be effective, while prescription glucocorticoids such as prednisone can help with more aggressive pain. Short-term usage of opioid pain medicationlike oxycodone or hydrocodone/acetaminophen is reserved for the highest levels of pain.
Shingles typically lasts between 2 and 6 weeks patients are usually confined to their home for the duration both for their own comfort and to prevent spreading the virus to others. There are a number of simple steps they can take to promote healing and increase their comfort level.
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