Stay Away From Certain Groups Of People If You Have Shingles
You cannot spread shingles to others. But people who have not had chickenpox before could catch chickenpox from you.
This is because shingles is caused by the chickenpox virus.
Try to avoid:
- pregnant people who have not had chickenpox before
- people with a weakened immune system like someone having chemotherapy
- babies less than 1 month old unless you gave birth to them, as your baby should be protected from the virus by your immune system
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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.
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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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.
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 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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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.
How Dangerous Is Shingles
Shingles isnt considered a dangerous health condition.
Each year about 1 million new cases of shingles are reported in the United States. Most people recover and resume their normal activities once theyre no longer infectious.
However, if shingles isnt treated, particularly severe cases can lead to death.
People with autoimmune conditions and people over the age of 65 are at a higher risk for shingles complications.
Women who are pregnant may also be concerned if they develop shingles. You and your baby will most likely be safe. However, talk with your healthcare provider if youre pregnant and suspect you have shingles.
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What Problems Can Happen
Most cases of shingles heal on their own, with or without treatment, and wont lead to any other problems. In rare cases, shingles can lead to complications, including:
- Ongoing pain : Damaged nerve fibers in the skin send confused messages to the brain, leading to pain. Pain can go on for a long time after the shingles rash is gone. This is the most common shingles complication.
- Vision problems: Shingles near or in an eye can lead to vision loss.
- Skin infections: A shingles rash can become infected with bacteria, leading to impetigo or cellulitis.
- Nervous system problems: Shingles on the face can involve different nerves that connect to the brain. This can lead to nerve-related problems such as facial paralysis, hearing problems, and problems with balance. In very rare cases, shingles can lead to encephalitis .
How Long Does It Take For Shingles To Progress
Shingles progresses into blisters over three to five days and begins to crust over after seven to ten days. The rash is preceded by a prodromal phase lasting 48-72 hours or longer, consisting of throbbing pain and numbness in the area affecting the nerve. Once the rash blisters, it can last another three to five days before the lesions scab over.
After the lesions crust over, it may take two to four weeks to heal completely. At this time, pain may still be present. The most painful stage of shingles is when you have fluid-filled blisters. This usually occurs three to five days after the rash first appears.
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Whos At Risk For Shingles
Anyone who has ever had chickenpox can get shingles, but the risk increases with age. People older than age 60 are up to 10 times more likely to get shingles than younger people. Other factors that increase your risk include:
- Some cancer medicines
- A weak immune system from illnesses such as cancer or HIV
A quarter of adults will develop shingles at some point, and most are otherwise healthy.
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What Triggers A Shingles Outbreak
Precise triggers for herpes zoster are unknown. Outbreaks can come as a result of the individuals immune status. That is, if your immune system is weakened, you are more likely to suffer a shingles outbreak.
You must also have had chickenpox to trigger a shingles outbreak. You cannot have a shingles outbreak unless you have previously contracted chickenpox.
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What Are The Symptoms And Stages Shingles
Shingles symptoms appear in stages. At first, you may get headaches or feel like you have the flu, but without a fever. You may also be sensitive to light, have trouble thinking clearly or feel dizzy and weak.
A few days or even weeks later, an area of your body or face will feel itchy, tingly or painful. This is where a rash will appear. The rash will eventually turn into a cluster of blisters that are filled with fluid.
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:
- People with a weakened immune system
- People who have not had chickenpox in the past
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Is Shingles Contagious
Yes, but not in the way you may think. Your shingles rash will not trigger an outbreak of shingles in another person, but it can sometimes cause chickenpox in a child. People who’ve never had chickenpox, or the vaccine to prevent it, can pick up the virus by direct contact with the open sores of shingles. So keep a shingles rash covered and avoid contact with infants, as well as pregnant women who have never had chickenpox or the varicella vaccine and people who may have weak immune systems such as chemotherapy patients.
Home Care For Shingles
Colloidal oatmeal baths are an old standby for relieving the itch of chickenpox and can help with shingles, as well. To speed up the drying out of the blisters, try placing a cool, damp washcloth on the rash If your doctor gives you the green light, stay active while recovering from shingles. Gentle exercise or a favorite activity may help keep your mind off the discomfort.
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The 4 Stages Of Shingles And How The Condition Progresses
- The stages of shingles are tingling pain, followed by a burning feeling and a red rash, then blistering, and finally the blisters will crust over.
- You will typically develop a rash about 1-5 days after you feel numbness or tingling pain.
- During the blistering phase, you are contagious and can spread chickenpox if someone touches your blisters.
- This article was medically reviewed by , MD, family medicine physician at Providence Saint Johns Health Centre in Santa Monica, California.
There are four different stages of shingles, including a skin-blistering phase during which you can spread the disease to other people. Heres what you need to know about the different stages of shingles and the best way to treat and prevent this disease.
The Shingles Vaccine Can Prevent Shingles
The best way to prevent shingles is to get the shingles vaccine, known as Shingrix.
Regardless of your age, its important to see a healthcare professional right away if you develop symptoms of shingles. Antiviral drugs can help reduce the severity and duration of illness as well as lower your risk of complications.
Seeking timely medical attention is particularly important if you have:
- severe symptoms
- shingles that affect a large area of skin
- shingles around the area of your eyes, ears, or face
- a weakened immune system
Antiviral drugs are most effective when started within 72 hours after the rash begins. Because of this, dont hesitate to seek care if you suspect that you have shingles.
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How Common Is Shingles
Shingles affects 1 out of every 3 people in the United States. More than 1 million cases of shingles are diagnosed every year. The risk of shingles increases as you get older, with about half the cases occurring in people over the age of 50. Shingles develops in about 10% of people who have had chickenpox at an earlier time in their life.
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Can I Give Shingles To Others
No one can catch shingles from you. But the virus can be spread to a person who has never had chickenpox. The virus lives in the blisters that shingles causes. It can be spread until the blisters are completely healed. If you have blisters that have not crusted over yet, you should stay away from:
- Anyone who has never had chickenpox
- Babies under 12 months old
- Very sick people
Tell your doctor if you live with children who have not had chickenpox. They may need to be vaccinated.
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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.
Shingles Or Something Else
Small blisters that appear only on the lips or around the mouth may be cold sores, sometimes called fever blisters. They’re not shingles, but are instead caused by the herpes simplex virus. Itchy blisters that appear after hiking, gardening, or spending time outdoors could be a reaction to poison ivy, oak, or sumac. If you aren’t sure what’s causing your rash, see your healthcare provider.
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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.
What Serious Side Effects Should I Watch For After Getting The Shingrix Vaccine
Serious side effects from vaccines are extremely rare. However, call 911 or get to a hospital right away if you experience any of the following within minutes to hours after receiving Shingrix:
- Swelling of the face or throat.
- Difficulty breathing.
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Severe Shingles Rash That Require Special Attention
Shingles on the FACE , shingles in the EYE, or shingles in the EAR do require IMMEDIATE medical attention.
According to doctors at Mayo Clinic, if the shingles rash reaches your eye, it can cause eye infections that could lead to temporary or even permanent loss of vision. If you have a shingles rash that is on your eye, eyelid or forehead , you should go see a doctor as soon as possible.
If the shingles rash is in or on your ear, you could develop hearing or balance problems, and in rare instances, the virus might attack your brain or spinal cord. For these reasons, if you have developed a shingles rash in or around your ear , you should seek immediate medical attention.
Urgent Advice: Get Advice From 111 As Soon As You Suspect Shingles
You might need medicine to help speed up your recovery and avoid longer-lasting problems.
This works best if taken within 3 days of your symptoms starting.
111 will tell you what to do. They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one.
Go to 111.nhs.uk or .
Get an urgent GP appointment
A GP may be able to treat you.
Ask your GP surgery for an urgent appointment.
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Who Should Be Vaccinated With Shingrix
The Shingrix vaccine is recommended for those 50 years of age and older who are in good health.
You should get the Shingrix vaccine even if:
- Youve had shingles already.
- Youve been previously vaccinated with Zostavax . If youve been vaccinated with Zostavax, wait at least eight weeks before getting vaccinated with Shingrix.
- You dont know for sure if youve ever had chickenpox.
Ask your healthcare provider, who knows your entire health history if getting this vaccine is right for you.
How To Decrease Your Risk Of Complications
Treating shingles early can help shorten the lifespan of the virus.
If youre able to shorten the infection, youll decrease your risk for complications from the virus. Antiviral medication is recommended as a first line of treatment when youre diagnosed with shingles.
Getting a varicella vaccination can help you to avoid contracting shingles and chickenpox. Even if youve already had shingles, a vaccination against shingles can help to prevent the virus from reactivating in your system.
The most common complication associated with shingles is postherpetic neuralgia . PHN is long-term nerve pain that can occur in the area where your shingles rash appeared.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , of people experience PHN after a shingles outbreak.
The older you are when your shingles appears, the higher your risk for long-term nerve pain.
If the virus is left untreated, your risk for other complications related to shingles