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Mayo Clinic Minute: Don’t suffer with shingles

Speak to a board-certified doctor securely from your phone or computer and get medication for shingles in 15 minutes. Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Although shingles can appear anywhere on the body, it most often is a single stripe of blisters that wraps around the left or right side of your torso. With our same-day treatment service, you can meet with a top online doctor, get diagnosed, and receive the medication you need.

What Are The Stages Of Shingles Symptoms

There are no formal, clinical stages of shingles, but symptoms generally fall into three stages. Beginning to end, shingles can last 24 weeks.

Contact your doctor right away if you have symptoms of shingles. Early treatment with antiviral medication may help lessen the severity, speed recovery time, and lower the potential for complications.

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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Complications Of Shingles: Ramsay Hunt Syndrome & Bacterial Skin Infection

Can Shingles Cause Chronic Pain

Herpes Zoster (Shingles)

In some people, the pain of shingles may linger for months or even years after the rash has healed. This pain, due to damaged nerves in and beneath the skin, is known as postherpetic neuralgia. Others feel a chronic itch in the area where the rash once was. In severe cases, the pain or itching may be bad enough to cause insomnia, weight loss, or depression.

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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

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.

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Is There A Way I Can Keep From Being Infected With Chickenpox

Yes, make sure all your vaccines are up to date, especially if you are planning a pregnancy. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and those you love. If you are not immune, you should be vaccinated. You will receive two doses of varicella vaccine one month apart. You should avoid becoming pregnant for at least one month after the last vaccination. Varicella vaccine should not be given to pregnant women. If you are pregnant, have your healthcare provider give you the varicella vaccine after your baby is delivered.

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Home Remedies For Shingles

Self-care for shingles at home includes:

  • applying calamine lotion or other creams to soothe the skin and relieve pain
  • cleaning the rash area gently to prevent bacterial infection
  • placing cool compresses on blisters to lessen pain and help the blisters heal
  • drinking plenty of water and other healthy liquids
  • reducing stress as much as possible, such as walking every day and eating nutritious food
  • resting, contact your doctor if pain is making it difficult to sleep

Shingles Vaccination What You Should Know:

Shingles: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment with Dr. Mark Shalauta | San Diego Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends shingles vaccine for people 60 years of age and older. This is a one-time vaccination to prevent shingles. There is no maximum age for getting the shingles vaccine.

Anyone 60 years of age or older should get the shingles vaccine, regardless of whether they recall having had chickenpox or not. Studies show that more than 99% of Americans ages 40 and older have had chickenpox, even if they dont remember getting the disease.

Your risk for getting shingles begins to rise around age 50. However, shingles vaccine is only recommended for persons age 60 and older because the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine have only been studied in this age group.

Even if you have had shingles, you can still receive the shingles vaccine to help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific time that you must wait after having shingles before receiving the shingles vaccine. The decision on when to get vaccinated should be made with your healthcare provider. Generally, a person should make sure that the shingles rash has disappeared before getting vaccinated.

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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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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.

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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.

Home Care For Shingles

Is it shingles? 7 myths about painful illness (graphic images)

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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What Are Complications Of Shingles

Though shingles often resolve without any major problems, several potential complications can arise from shingles.

  • Postherpetic neuralgia : This is the most common complication of shingles. PHN is characterized by persistent pain and discomfort in the area affected by shingles. The pain can last for months to several years after the rash has cleared up. This complication is thought to occur because of damage to the affected nerves. The pain can sometimes be severe and difficult to control, and the likelihood of developing postherpetic neuralgia increases with age.
  • This chronic post-herpetic pain can sometimes lead to depression and disability.
  • In people 60 years of age and older with shingles, postherpetic neuralgia will develop in approximately 15%-25% of cases. It rarely occurs in people under 40 years of age.
  • Timely treatment with antiviral medication during a shingles outbreak may help reduce the incidence of developing postherpetic neuralgia.
  • If postherpetic neuralgia develops, there are various treatment options available including topical creams such as capsaicin , topical anesthetic lidocaine patches , and antiseizure medications such as gabapentin , pregabalin , tricyclic antidepressant medications, and opioid pain medications.
  • Intrathecal glucocorticoid injections may be useful for select patients with postherpetic neuralgia who do not respond to conventional medications and treatment measures.

Shingles Vaccine Side Effects

The shingles vaccine has not been shown to cause any serious side effects or health consequences. Minor side effects of the vaccine include redness, swelling, soreness, or itching at the site of injection, and headache. It is safe for those who have received the shingles vaccine to be around babies or those with weakened immune systems. It has not been shown that a person can develop chickenpox from getting the shingles vaccine, although some people who receive the vaccine may develop a mild chickenpox-like rash near the injection site. This rash should be kept covered and will disappear on its own.

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What Is Shingles What Does Shingles Look Like

Shingle is a disease characterized by a painful, blistering skin rash that affects one side of the body, typically the face or torso. This condition may also be referred to as herpes zoster, zoster, or zona. The word shingles comes from the Latin word cingulum, which means belt. There are approximately 1 million estimated new cases per year in the U.S., with almost one out of every three people developing shingles at some point in their lifetime. Though most people who develop shingles will only have a single episode, there are some who develop recurrent cases of shingles. Shingles are more common in older individuals and in those with weakened immune systems.

The characteristic rash of shingles typically appears after an initial period of burning, tingling, itching, or stinging in the affected area. After a few days, the rash then appears in a stripe or band-like pattern along a nerve path , affecting only one side of the body without crossing the midline. The rash erupts as clusters of small red patches that develop into blisters, which may appear similar to chickenpox. The blisters then break open and slowly begin to dry and eventually crust over.

How Long Is Shingles Contagious

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

Similar to chickenpox, shingles is a contagious illness. But, before we address how long you may be contagious, we need to talk about how shingles spreads which might actually surprise you.

“Shingles is indeed contagious, but it can only be spread to people who haven’t yet had chickenpox, or the chickenpox vaccine. In these cases, the shingles virus typically spreads via direct contact with the opened blisters of your rash. After being infected, a person doesn’t develop shingles, though he or she develops chickenpox,” explains Dr. Brown.

Since you can’t really know who is and who isn’t susceptible to chickenpox, it’s important to take safety measures if you have shingles.

“When you have shingles, you’re considered contagious until your open sores crust and scab over. This generally takes between 7 to 10 days,” says Dr. Brown. “Depending on where your rash develops on your body and where you work, you may be able to return to work before your shingles dry up.”

Before your rash dries up, Dr. Brown recommends the following to prevent spreading shingles to others:

  • Make sure your rash is covered with gauze
  • Limit interaction with other people if your shingles rash is on your face
  • Consult with your doctor about returning to work if you work in a medical setting or nursing home, as well as if you interact with people frequently while at work

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I’m Pregnant And Have Recently Been Exposed To Someone With Chickenpox How Will This Exposure Affect Me Or My Pregnancy

  • Susceptible pregnant women are at risk for associated complications when they contract varicella. Varicella infection causes severe illness in pregnant women, and 10%-20% of those infected develop varicella pneumonia, with mortality reported as high as 40%.
  • Because of these risks, pregnant women without evidence of immunity to varicella who have been exposed to the virus may be given varicella-zoster immune globulin to reduce their risk of disease complications.
  • If you are pregnant and have never had chickenpox, and you get chickenpox during the:
    • First half of your pregnancy, there is a very slight risk for birth defects or miscarriage.
    • Second half of your pregnancy, the baby may have infection without having any symptoms and then get shingles later in life.
  • Newborns whose mothers develop varicella rash from 5 days before to 2 days after delivery are at risk for neonatal varicella, associated with mortality as high as 30%. These infants should receive preventive treatment with varicella-zoster immune globulin .

Psoriasis Forms Red Patches On The Skin

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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Will Shingles Go Away On Its Own

Shingles isn’t 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 it’s 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

Can You Get Chickenpox If You’ve Been Vaccinated

Shingles Rash â Stock Photo © sframe #18627745

Yes. About 15% 20% of people who have received one dose of varicella vaccine do still get chickenpox if they are exposed, but their disease is usually mild. Vaccinated persons who get chickenpox generally have fewer than 50 spots or bumps, which may resemble bug bites more than typical, fluid-filled chickenpox blisters. In 2006, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend routine two-dose varicella vaccination for children. In one study, children who received two doses of varicella vaccine were three times less likely to get chickenpox than individuals who have had only one dose.

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If I Get The Shingles Vaccine Does This Mean Im 100% Protected From Getting Shingles

No, just like most vaccines, getting vaccinated 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, the painful condition that can follow a shingles outbreak.

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Who Should Avoid The Shingles Vaccine

Some people should not receive the shingles vaccine, including pregnant women and those with significantly suppressed immune systems.

Pregnant Women

The shingles vaccine should not be given to pregnant women. It is recommended that a woman wait three months before trying to become pregnant after she has received the shingles vaccine.

People With Weakened Immune Systems

People with weakened immune systems due to immune-suppressing medications, HIV disease, cancer treatment, or organ transplants should not receive the shingles vaccine because it contains live, weakened virus particles.

People Under Age 60

There is not enough information available to determine whether Zostavax may be generally beneficial in people younger than 60 years of age.

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