Thursday, April 11, 2024

Does Shingles Spread If You Scratch It

Can Shingles On One Part Of My Body Spread To Another

Shingles: What you need to know about causes, symptoms, and prevention.

I broke out with shingles to my face. Can I spread the virus to other parts of my own body by scratching?

I’ve googled and found contradictory information. Some sites say “it can be spread to any part of the body”….so I’m confused.

I know shingles can be spread to other people, but can shingles on one part of my body be spread to another?

The herpes virus responsible for chickenpox, Varicella zoster lays dormant in nerves after the chickenpox outbreak. Shingles break out in the region affected by that nerve or nerves, which is also why shingles are usually restricted to one body side .

Spreading the virus to other parts of the body is called autoinoculation. I could not find this described anywhere for Varicella zoster in healthy patients. In the related Herpes simplex, it is uncommon.

Sometimes, infected people can transmit the virus and infect other parts of their own bodies . This process, known as autoinoculation, is uncommon, since people generally develop antibodies that protect against this problem

Basically, the other parts of your body are vaccinated against the virus.

For Varicella zoster, it is a concern when considering immunocompromised patients :

If your immune system is weakened, shingles blisters may spread to other parts of your body and it will likely take longer for the symptoms to heal, maybe lasting for months

How Do I Protect Myself From Shingles

The best protection from shingles is vaccination. People can still get shingles after receiving the varicella vaccine but they are 4 to 12 times less likely to do so than if they havent been immunized. The vaccine is recommended for most people 60 and older.

Some people should not receive the vaccine for example, those with certain allergies or who are taking certain medications. A health professional can advise who should not be vaccinated due to contraindications to the vaccine.

People between 50 and 59 years can request the vaccine from their health professional.

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Can Shingles Come Back

Given that shingles results from the varicella zoster virus reactivating some amount of time after having chickenpox, you may be wondering if the virus can…re-reactivate after having shingles.

“Once shingles clears up, the virus simply goes back into hiding and, unfortunately, it can reactivate again in the future,” says Dr. Brown. “As far as the likelihood of shingles reoccurring, that’s still largely up for debate. One study found that the chance of getting shingles a second time is about 5%, but other studies show this number to be lower.”

One way to reduce your risk of getting shingles twice is the same preventive measure that helps prevent you from ever getting it in the first place: the shingles vaccine.

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When To Contact Your Gp

Contact your GP if you’re not sure whether you or your child have chickenpox.

Contact your GP urgently if you have been in contact with someone who has chickenpox, or you have chickenpox symptoms and:

  • you are pregnant
  • you have a weakened immune system
  • your baby is less than four weeks old

Chickenpox in these cases can cause serious complications, if left untreated. It is essential to seek medical advice so that you can receive any necessary treatment.

Contact your GP if you have chickenpox and are breastfeeding. They can advise about whether you should continue breastfeeding your baby.

Psoriasis Forms Red Patches On The Skin

How to Get Rid of Shingles

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that is easy to confuse with the shingles rash. As with the shingles virus, psoriasis forms red patches on the skin, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. One type of psoriasis pustular can lead to the development of blisters. Areas of skin affected by psoriasis often develop into silvery scales on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back. Treatment can help control the condition.

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How Is Shingles Spread

A person must have already had chickenpox in the past to develop shingles. A person cannot get shingles from a person that has shingles. However, the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles can be spread from a person with active shingles to a person who has never had chickenpox or had the chickenpox vaccine. The person exposed to the virus would develop chickenpox, not shingles. A person with shingles can spread the virus when the rash is in the blister-phase. The blister fluid is filled with virus particles. The virus is spread through direct contact with the rash or through breathing in virus particles that get mixed in the air. Once the rash has developed crusts, the person is no longer contagious. A person is not infectious before blisters appear or if pain persists after the rash is gone .

How Do You Prevent Shingles

You can lower your risk of shingles and its complications by getting vaccinated for shingles. The shingles vaccine Shingrix is approved for people ages 50 and older and for people 18 years and older whose immune system is weakened or compromised by a medical condition or immune-suppressing medications .

Shingrix is 97% effective in preventing shingles in people ages 50 to 69 years and 91% effective in the 70 and older age group. The vaccine also reduces the risk of severe shingles and complications of shingles in all adults.

You can reduce your risk of chickenpox and subsequent development of shingles by avoiding exposure to a person with chickenpox and by getting vaccinated for these diseases as recommended by your healthcare provider.

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Assess Your Pain Levels

In general, most people with active shingles infections can perform daily activities as tolerated, but rating your pain can help you decide when to do a specific exercise or activity and when to avoid it. Consider using a numerical pain rating scale, which has you rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst possible pain.

Make a note of your pain level each day and if a particular activity worsened it. Consider writing it down in a journal or as a note in your phone. That way, you can track which activities affect your pain levels and adjust accordingly.

How Long Does A Shingles Outbreak Last

How to treat shingles

It can take three to five weeks from the time you begin to feel symptoms until the rash totally disappears.

  • First, a few days before the rash appears, you may feel pain in an area on your skin. The pain is described as itching, burning, stabbing or shooting. This usually happens before the rash comes.
  • Next, the raised rash appears as a band or a patch, usually on one side of your body. The rash usually appears around your waistline or on one side of your face, neck, or on the trunk , but not always. It can occur in other areas including your arms and legs.
  • Within three to four days, the rash develops into red, fluid-filled, painful, open blisters.
  • Usually, these blisters begin to dry out and crust over within about 10 days.
  • The scabs clear up about two to three weeks later.
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    Shingles Rash In The Eyes

    Ophthalmic shingles, or herpes zoster ophthalmicus , is when the shingles rash is in and/or around the eye. It is a severe variant that affects 20% of people with the infection.

    If you develop a shingles rash near your eye, contact your healthcare provider right away.

    lauraag / Getty Images

    HZO usually appears within two to four weeks after a shingles rash starts. People who have a compromised immune system, such as those with HIV/AIDS, are at higher risk for developing this.

    All parts of the eye can be affected. For example:

    • You can develop blisters around the eye that may cause the eyelids and surrounding area to swell.
    • The corneaâthe transparent part over the front of the eyeâcan be affected, causing calcification .
    • Blood vessels in the eye could become more pronounced blood flow to the eye could be impacted.

    To reduce your risk of long-term eye complications, contact your healthcare provider right away if you have a shingles rash on your face.

    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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    How Does It Spread

    Shingles spreads via contact with the fluid or pus in a persons blisters.

    If a person comes into contact with this, they may develop chickenpox if they have never had it or the varicella vaccine, also known as the chickenpox vaccine.

    Shingles can transmit via coughing and sneezing only if blisters have developed in the persons oral cavity.

    Will Shingles Go Away On Its Own

    What Does A Mild Case Of Shingles Look Like

    Shingles isnt 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 its 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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    Is The Shingles Rash Dangerous

    The shingles rash doesnt usually cause any long-term damage to your body. However, if your rash develops on your face or ears, it can cause long-term issues Ill explain the full risks in the section below.

    No matter how minor your case of shingles you should still go see your doctor to get treatment for your shingles. Theyâll likely provide you with medication to ease your pain and help fight the virus.

    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.

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    What Are The Complications Of Chickenpox

    Complications due to chickenpox are often rare but possible. Most people recover from the condition without any complications. However, severe cases can be dangerous, especially for very young babies, teenagers, immunocompromised people, and pregnant women.

    Complications include:

    • Develops sores in the eyes.

    Chickenpox is a highly contagious infection most often seen in children. The chickenpox infection usually occurs only once and is said to give life-long immunity against the virus. But there are chances of a second infection. The best option to help prevent chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine. The vaccine is said to be 90 % effective in preventing the disease. When a person gets vaccinated, they protect themselves and their family members, especially those who can not get vaccinated. However, if one contracts chickenpox, the illness is self-limiting and goes away within two weeks. However, if one does contract chickenpox, the illness is self-limiting and goes away within two weeks.

    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

    What is Shingles?

    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.

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    Can Chickenpox Occur Twice

    Typically, once one gets a chickenpox infection, they build up a lifelong immunity to the virus and do not get it more than once. But in a few rare cases, one can get it again.

    These situations include:

    • If one gets chickenpox when they are very young, especially younger than six months old, the disease can occur again.

    • If one had a very mild or subclinical infection the first time.

    • In case of an impaired immune system.

    Many may even confuse reinfection with shingles, but shingles are just a flare-up of the zoster virus living inside the body.

    Are There Natural Ways To Boost Your Immune System To Help Lessen The Chances Of Developing Shingles

    Stress is a risk factor for developing shingles, so limiting your stress can be helpful. Try meditation, yoga or other relaxation methods.

    Other things you can do include:

    • Eat a healthy diet.
    • Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
    • Dont smoke or use tobacco products.

    These are all tips for an overall healthy lifestyle, not just for reducing your chance of getting shingles.

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    The First Symptoms Of Shingles

    Early symptoms of shingles can appear several days before the more obvious symptoms. However, some people will not have early symptoms before a rash appears.

    The most common early symptoms occur on one part of the body or face. This often happens in the abdominal area.

    These symptoms many include:

    The pain can worsen as shingles develops. The pain can be sharp, stabbing, and intense.

    It may also cause hypersensitivity, or an excessive reaction to touch.

    There are also other early symptoms of shingles.

    Although not every person with shingles will experience them, early symptoms include:

    • general feeling of being unwell

    Your doctor can often diagnose shingles based on these symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe medication to speed up recovery.

    Medication also reduces the chance of complications, so seeking early intervention is important.

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    Is A Vaccine Available To Prevent Shingles

    How Would I Know If I Have 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 your 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.

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    Signs And Symptoms Of Shingles

    Shingles may cause mild to severe pain, and the viral rash most commonly appears on the trunk, notes the CDC. Unlike chickenpox, the shingles rash usually occurs on one side of the body or face.

    The first symptom of shingles is usually pain, itching, or tingling in the area where the shingles rash will later appear. This may happen several days before the rash erupts, leading to fluid-filled blisters like those of chicken pox. The blisters typically scab over in 7 to 10 days and clear up within two to four weeks, according to the CDC.

    Other signs and symptoms of shingles may include:

    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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