Who Should Not Get The Vaccine
Do not get the shingles vaccine if:
- You have a severe allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis, to any ingredient of a vaccine or to a previous dose of Shingrix
- You have shingles now.
You are sick with an illness and a fever of 101Â°F or higher.
- You should also consider delaying the vaccine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Not enough is known about its safety for expectant and lactating women.
- You have had a negative test for varicella this would be uncommon for adults eligible for the vaccine, as most adults worldwide ages 50 and older have been exposed to the virus. You do not have to be tested before getting the vaccine.
What Are The Symptoms
The first sign of shingles is often burning, sharp pain, tingling, or numbness in your skin on one side of your body or face. The most common site is the back or upper abdomen. You may have severe itching or aching. You also may feel tired and ill with fever, chills, headache, and upset stomach or belly pain.
One to 14 days after you start feeling pain, you will notice a rash of small blisters on reddened skin. Within a few days after they appear, the blisters will turn yellow, then dry and crust over. Over the next 2 weeks the crusts drop off, and the skin continues to heal over the next several days to weeks.
Because shingles usually follows nerve paths, the blisters are usually found in a line, often extending from the back or side around to the belly. The blisters are almost always on just one side of the body. Shingles usually doesn’t cross the midline of the body. The rash also may appear on one side of your face or scalp. The painful rash may be in the area of your ear or eye. When shingles occurs on the head or scalp, symptoms can include headaches and weakness of one side of the face, which causes that side of the face to look droopy. The symptoms usually go away eventually, but it may take many months.
In some cases the pain can last for weeks, months, or years, long after the rash heals. This is called postherpetic neuralgia.
First Signs And Symptoms Of Shingles
Among the systemic symptoms that may appear in the first few days of the prodromal stage of shingles are:
- Pain in a specific, localized area of the body
- Sensitivity to light
The most telling first symptom of shingles typically is the pain. Often excruciating, the discomfort has been described as burning, stinging, tingly, prickly, itchy, numbing, achy, or shooting. It can be persistent or intermittent, but will always be limited to one side of the body.
Because the pain from shingles is localized, it can be mistaken for other conditions depending on where it’s focused.
For example, a stabbing or persistent pain on one side of the lower back may mistakenly be attributed to sciatica or a kidney problem. Shingles pain around the lips could suggest a cold sore coming on, while pain focused on the eye or ear might seem like the start of a migraine.
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Are Shingles Always Painful
By Will Sowards
Many people associate discomfort, pain and fatigue with shingles. While its true that most, if not all, symptoms of shingles are uncomfortable, is it safe to say that shingles always cause pain?
The answer to this question is relative and largely based on the infected persons tolerance for pain. Analyzing the symptoms of shingles and how most people respond to them can help us accurately assess whether shingles are always painful.
How To Prevent Shingles: Get Vaccinated
Two vaccines may help prevent the shingles virus: the chickenpox vaccine and the shingles vaccine. The shingles vaccine is approved for adults ages 50 and older and for those 18 and older with weakened immune systems or at increased risk of herpes zoster because of a disease or treatment, according to the CDC.
Per the CDC, talk to your doctor about getting a shingles vaccination if you are 50 or older or if you have the following risk factors:
- You have cancer, especially leukemia or lymphoma.
- You are a bone marrow or solid organ transplant recipient.
- You take immunosuppressive medications, including steroids, chemotherapy, or transplant-related medications.
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Burning Feeling And Red Rash
Between 1 and 5 days after you start to feel the tingling or numb feeling, a red rash will develop on the same area of your skin. Most often, the rash appears on one side of your torso, but it can show up anywhere on your body.
You may also have other symptoms along with the rash, such as:
When the rash starts, you should see a doctor for treatment as soon as possible. Starting antiviral medication treatment within 3 days of the rash first appearing can lower your risk of developing complications, like long-term pain.
How Is Shingles Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will do a complete physical exam and ask about your medical history, specifically about whether you have ever had chickenpox.
Your healthcare provider will likely know right away that it is shingles based on the unique rash. The rash usually appears one area on one side of the body or face. It appears as red spots, small fluid- or pus-filled vesicles, or scabs.
The healthcare provider may also take skin scrapings for testing.
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Am I Contagious If I Have Shingles
Shingles cannot be passed from one person to another. But someone who has never had chickenpox can contract VZV from a person with active shingles. They would then develop chickenpox, not shingles.
Only direct contact with fluid from shingles blisters can transmit the virus. Keep shingles blisters covered with a fluid absorbent dressing to prevent others from contracting the virus.
The Stages Before And After Rash Development
The most well-known symptom of shingles is a severe skin rash. However, before any signs of blisters, you may feel as if you’re only coming down with the flu.
You may experience chills and fever, as well as intense pain. It’s not until a few days later that a rash finally joins these shingles symptoms, with clusters of tiny, pimple-like blisters progressing quickly once they appear.
If you’re familiar with the signs and symptoms of shingles, you’ll be able to recognize what’s going on, get a diagnosis quickly, and deal with it without delay. Doing so makes you less likely to develop complications, such as nerve issues or bacterial skin infections.
This article reviews the symptoms of shingles and what you need to know about potential complications.
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Why Doesnt Having Chickenpox Earlier In Life Provide Immunity Against Having Shingles Later
After having chickenpox, your body doesnt rid your system of the virus. Instead, the virus stays in a portion of the spinal nerve root called the dorsal root ganglion. In most people, the virus simply stays there quietly and doesnt cause problems. Scientists arent always sure why the virus gets active again, but they know stress can be a cause.
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.
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Why Is Shingles Pain Worse At Night
Those experiencing shingles pain typically feel it gets worse as the day goes on, making it the worst at night. Peak pain time tends to be around 8 p.m., which may be when theyre getting ready for bed.
Another reason why the pain may be worse at night is because there are fewer distractions. During the day, patients can get caught up in work and daily demands. However, once theyre lying in bed, its easy to become more aware of how their body feels.
Lastly, temperature tends to play a factor in shingles pain. At night those with shingles may keep their room cool to help them sleep, but this can interfere with the bodys perception of pain. When its cool, the peripheral nerves may send signals to the brain that its in 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 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.
What Should You Expect If You Get Shingles
Shingles can be a very painful condition. If you think you have the symptoms of shingles, see your healthcare provider right away. Starting antiviral medications early can ease your discomfort and end symptoms earlier.
A better approach to shingles is to take action and do what you can to lessen your risk of getting it. If you’ve never had shingles in the past, talk to your healthcare provider about getting the shingles vaccine. If youve never had chickenpox, talk with your healthcare provider about getting the chickenpox vaccine.
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Where Does Shingles Come From
When you have chickenpox as a child, your body fights off the varicella-zoster virus and the physical signs of chickenpox fade away, but the virus always remains in your body. In adulthood, sometimes the virus becomes active again. This time, the varicella-zoster virus makes its second appearance in the form of shingles.
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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What Does Early Stages Of Shingles Look Like
Shingles progress through several stages as the virus replicates in your body. Shingles start as a rash with red bumps, known as papules, distributed most frequently over your back and torso.
Within several days, grouped blisters are present. Within seven to ten days, the vesicles dry up and crust.
The early stage of shingles looks like small, red, raised, solid pimples or an inflamed rash. These are tiny, raised bumps on the skin. Eventually, these bumps blister and later crust. The beginning stages of shingles create tingling and localized pain.
The early stages of shingles are also described as itching, burning, or deep pain. People who have had shingles also described the early stages as similar to the beginning of the flu.
When To See A Doctor
If you suspect you have shingles, you should see a doctor right away. You can then begin appropriate treatment that will help relieve your symptoms, speed your recovery, and lower your risk of complications. This is especially important if you:
- Are over age 60
- Have a condition that has caused you to have a weakened immune system, such as HIV
- Take medication that may diminish your body’s immune response
- You share a home with someone who has a weakened immune system
- The rash is on your face: Blisters near your eye could lead to serious eye damage or even cause you to lose sight in that eye.
Shingles Doctor Discussion Guide
If while you’re dealing with shingles you experience any of the following, let the doctor who’s treating you know right away:
- You aren’t getting relief from the pain with treatment.
- The pain doesn’t go away after three to four weeks.
- The rash spreads beyond the initial area.
- You begin to have symptoms of a secondary infection, such as a very high fever, chills, and severe headache.
Your healthcare provider will help you determine the right treatment for you. This may include antiviral drugs, antidepressant medications, and pain medications.
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Other Complications Of Shingles
If the shingles rash appears around the eye or forehead, it can cause eye infections and temporary or permanent loss of vision. If the shingles virus attacks the ear, people may develop hearing or balance problems. In rare cases, the shingles virus may attack the brain or spinal cord. These complications can often be prevented by beginning treatment for shingles as soon as possible.
Connection Between Stress Shingles And Sleep
While stress isnt itself considered a risk factor for shingles, research published in the journal Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience suggests that stress, stressful life events, and depression often precede outbreaks of shingles. One reason may be because stress lowers the bodys natural immune defenses and provides an opening for the dormant herpes virus to reactivate and surface.
Stress can adversely impact sleep and cause insomnia. But poor sleep can also add to your stress, leaving you suffering from excessive daytime sleepiness and making you prone to accidents, injury, and illness.
Ways to reduce stress include:
- Exercise regularly, but not too close to bedtime as doing so can make falling asleep more difficult.
- Meditate, take a yoga class, or practice relaxation exercises.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
- Talk with a therapist.
- Take supplements, such as melatonin, which may improve your sleep.
- Do something creative, such as paint or journal.
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Permanent Itching After Shingles
it is over a year ago that I had shingles and the itching all around my eye and forehead has never gone away. I was told a few times at the eye clinic, that it takes time, but has anyone else suffered with this for so long??!! I use antihistamine cream and eye drops, but I think I have this awful problem forever! Luckily it isn’t all day long but it IS every singfle day and makes life fairly miserable a lot of the time!
4 likes, 50 replies
Posted 5 years ago
Merry Juliana is the one who can give you the best info about this but I believe your case, though aggravating, is not totally abnormal. There seem to be so many different variations on how this disease affects its “victims.” I had shingles on my hand and arm in November and December. Thankfully, I haven’t had a lot of pain since that outbreak but I do have one spot on the palm of my hand and thumb that remains sensitive and occasionally get the sharp, stabbing pain that I had at the onset. I consider myself very fortunate since others have suffered much longer and with frequent outbreaks.
Posted 5 years ago
Yes I agree, there could be worse things like loss of vision, but knowing that that doesn’t make it any easier having a sore itching eye every day for over a year, when others seem to get over the whole thing in a few weeks, I do feel very sorry for anyone who gets shingles more than once as I know how painful it is!
Posted 5 years ago
5 years ago
Who Should Not Be Vaccinated With Shingrix
You shouldnt receive the Shingrix vaccine if you:
- Have ever had a severe allergy to this vaccine or any ingredient in this vaccine.
- Are breastfeeding or pregnant.
- Currently have shingles.
- Are ill and have a high fever.
- Have tested negative for immunity to varicella-zoster virus .
Ask your healthcare provider if the benefits of getting the vaccine outweigh any potential risks.
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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.