Wednesday, May 29, 2024

How Do People Get Shingles

How Is It Treated

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

It is best to start treatment as soon as possible after you notice the rash. See your healthcare provider to discuss treatment with antiviral medicine, such as acyclovir. This medicine is most effective if you start taking it within the first 3 days of the rash. Antiviral medicine may speed your recovery and lessen the chance that the pain will last for a long time.

Your provider may also recommend or prescribe:

  • medicine for pain
  • antibacterial salves or lotions to help prevent bacterial infection of the blisters
  • corticosteroids

What Other Problems Can Shingles Cause

Shingles can cause complications:

  • Postherpetic neuralgia is most common complication of shingles. It causes severe pain in the areas where you had the shingles rash. It usually gets better in a few weeks or months. But some people can have pain from PHN for many years, and it can interfere with daily life.
  • Vision loss can happen if shingles affects your eye. It may be temporary or permanent.
  • Hearing or balance problems are possible if you have shingles within or near your ear. You may also have weakness of the muscles on that side of your face. These problems can be temporary or permanent.

Very rarely, shingles can also lead to pneumonia, brain inflammation , or death.

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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Who Is At Risk For Shingles

You! About 98 percent of adults have had chickenpox and are at risk for shingles. In the United States, at least 1 million people get shingles each year. Shingles is far more common in people age 50 and older than in younger people. About half of shingles cases occur in people age 60 or older. It is more common in people who have a weakened immune system because of a disease, such as cancer or human immunodeficiency virus , or from drugs, like steroids or chemotherapy. Anyone can get shingles, though, including children.

How Is Postherpetic Neuralgia Treated

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Treatments include lotions or creams and/or other medications not specifically used for pain, such as antidepressants or drugs for epilepsy. Regular pain relievers are not usually effective for this type of pain.

If your pain doesnt lessen, you might try therapies like nerve blocks or steroid injections near the area where the nerves exit the spine. Your provider might suggest an implantable nerve stimulator device for severe, ongoing pain that hasnt responded to other treatments.

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When To Seek Medical Advice

Shingles is not usually serious, but you should see your GP as soon as possible if you recognise the symptoms. Early treatment may help reduce the severity of your symptoms and the risk of developing complications.

You should also see your GP if you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system and you think you have been exposed to someone with chickenpox or shingles and haven’t had chickenpox before.

Am I At Risk For Shingles

Everyone who has had chickenpox is at risk for developing shingles. Researchers do not fully understand what makes the virus become active and cause shingles. But some things make it more likely:

  • Older age. The risk of developing shingles increases as you age. About half of all shingles cases are in adults age 60 or older. The chance of getting shingles becomes much greater by age 70.
  • Trouble fighting infections. Your immune system is the part of your body that responds to infections. Age can affect your immune system. So can HIV, cancer, cancer treatments, too much sun, and organ transplant drugs. Even stress or a cold can weaken your immune system for a short time. These all can put you at risk for shingles.

Most people only have shingles one time. However, it is possible to have it more than once.

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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.

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

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

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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.

Shingles And Chickenpox Vaccination

The National Immunisation Program provides a free shingles vaccine, Zostavax® at 70 years of age . There is also a free catch-up program for 71 to 79 year olds until the end of 2021. The Zostavax® vaccine is available on prescription for people aged 50 to 69 years and from 80 years but it must be paid for by the patient.

Zostavax® vaccine contains live attenuated varicella-zoster virus, containing 14 times more virus than childhood varicella vaccines and is contraindicated in immunocompromised people. Zostavax® vaccine should not to be used in people with compromised immune function due to the risk of disseminated disease from the vaccine virus.

  • Safety advisory – Zostavax® vaccine for health professionals and consumers

Vaccination is still recommended for people who have had shingles infection in the past. It is recommended to wait at least a year after recovery.

The NIP provides a free chickenpox vaccine to children aged 18 months of age and as catch-up for children up to 20 years of age as part of the No Jab No Pay legislation. People aged 14 years and older require two doses of the chickenpox vaccine, one to two months apart. People from 20 years of age must purchase the vaccine privately.

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Can You Spread Shingles Over Your Own Body

Shingles cannot be spread over different areas of your body. For example, if you have an active shingles rash on your back, the fluid from the blisters cannot cause a new rash on your arm.

However, the fluid could potentially spread VZV to someone else if theyve never had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine.

One caveat here is that some people can develop disseminated herpes zoster, which is when the shingles virus causes a rash over multiple areas of the body. This can happen in people who have weakened immune systems from autoimmune disease, cancer, or immunosuppressant medications.

Can You Still Develop Shingles If Youve Been Vaccinated For Chickenpox

3 Ways to Treat Throat Shingles

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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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.

How Can I Take Care Of Myself

  • Take a pain-relief medicine such as acetaminophen. Take other medicine as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
  • Put cool, moist washcloths on the rash.
  • Rest in bed during the early stages if you have fever and other symptoms.
  • Try not to let clothing or bed linens rub against the rash and irritate it.
  • You develop worsening pain or fever.
  • You develop a severe headache, stiff neck, hearing loss, or changes in your ability to think.
  • The blisters show signs of bacterial infection, such as increasing pain or redness, or milky yellow drainage from the blister sites.
  • The blisters are close to the eyes or you have pain in your eyes or trouble seeing.
  • You have trouble walking.

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What Is Postherpetic Neuralgia

Sometimes, particularly in older people, shingles pain persists long after the rash has healed. This is postherpetic neuralgia, defined as pain lasting three months after onset of the rash. Pain can be mild or severethe most severe cases can lead to insomnia, weight loss, depression, and disability. There may be other sensations, such as tingling, coldness, or loss of feeling. About 20 percent of people age 70 or greater who develop shingles may have long-lasting pain. Postherpetic neuralgia is not directly life-threatening and may get better over time.

About a dozen medications in four categories have been shown in clinical trials to provide some pain relief for postherpetic neuralgia. These include:

Tricyclic antidepressants : TCAs are often the first type of drug given to people suffering from postherpetic neuralgia. The TCA amitryptiline was commonly prescribed in the past, but although effective, it has a high rate of side effects. Desipramine and nortriptyline have fewer side effects and are therefore better choices for older adults, the most likely group to have postherpetic neuralgia.

Common side effects of TCAs include dry eyes and mouth, constipation, and impaired memory. People with heart arrhythmias , previous heart attacks, or narrow angle glaucoma should usually use a different class of drugs.

Postherpetic itch

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What Does It Mean To Let Shingles Run Its Course

How to treat shingles

This refers to the typical course a shingles rash takes, even with antiviral treatment:

  • A person may develop a tingling sensation or pain in a certain area on the skin, most commonly on the waistline. This may last for several days.
  • Next, a rash develops in the area. The skin turns red, with fluid-filled bumps . Its during this time that a shingles rash can spread the VZV to another person who hasnt had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine.
  • After 1 to 2 weeks, these fluid-filled bumps start to crust over. At this point, the rash can no longer spread to other people. It can then take 1 to 2 more weeks for the crusted areas to fully scab over and heal.
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    What Are Risk Factors For Shingles

    A weakened immune system might wake up the virus. After youâve had chickenpox, youâre more likely to get shingles if you:

    • Are 50 or older
    • Are under a lot of stress
    • Have cancer, HIV, or another disease that lowers your bodyâs defenses
    • Have had a serious physical injury
    • Take long-term steroids or other medicines that can weaken your immune system

    But many people who get shingles donât fit into any of these categories.

    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.

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    What Are The Symptoms Like For Shingles In Young Adults

    Overall, younger people who get shingles typically have a milder illness. This means that the rash and associated pain may not be as severe as it would be in an older adult. Most adults who have shingles dont develop it again.

    Its still important to talk with your doctor if you suspect that you have shingles. This is because taking antiviral medications shortly after your symptoms start can help to reduce symptoms and shorten their duration.

    Whether youve had chickenpox or shingles, the best way to protect against developing shingles in the future is through vaccination. The shingles vaccine, called Shingrix, consists of 2 doses spaced out between 2 to 6 months.

    The catch? According to the FDA , its currently only indicated for use in adults 50 years and older. Shingrix hasnt been studied in younger populations.

    If youre younger than 50 years old, you can ask your doctor about getting Shingrix. But its unlikely that theyll recommend it or that your insurance will cover it.

    Since shingles is generally milder and rarer in younger adults, it may make sense to treat these cases as they occur instead of preparing for something that has a low chance of being life threatening if it happens.

    Can You Get Chickenpox If You’ve Been Vaccinated

    Adult vaccinations recommended for tetanus, pertussis, shingles

    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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    Who Should Not Get Shingrix

    You should not get Shingrix if you:

    • Have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine or after a dose of Shingrix.
    • Currently have shingles.
    • Currently are pregnant. Women who are pregnant should wait to get Shingrix.

    If you have a minor illness, such as a cold, you may get Shingrix. But if you have a moderate or severe illness, with or without fever, you should usually wait until you recover before getting the vaccine.

    What Are The Complications Of Shingles

    After the shingles rash has disappeared, you might continue to have nerve pain in that same area. Postherpetic neuralgia can last for months or years and become quite severe.

    More than 10% of people who get shingles develop postherpetic neuralgia. Researchers dont know why some people get postherpetic neuralgia and others dont. It may be that nerves become more sensitive or that the virus may be invading and damaging the central nervous system.

    Other complications include:

    • Other types of nerve issues like numbness or itching.
    • A bacterial infection of the shingles rash.
    • Eye and ear inflammation if the rash is near these organs.

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    When Should I See My Doctor

    See your doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing any symptoms of shingles. Starting treatment with antiviral medicines within 3 days of the rash appearing should reduce the severity of symptoms and the risk of further complications, including post-herpetic neuralgia.

    See your doctor straight away if you have symptoms of shingles and are experiencing the following:

    • symptoms that affect your eye area
    • a temperature of 38°C or higher

    You should also see your doctor if you are pregnant, or have a weakened immune system due to medicine that suppresses the immune system, or a condition that weakens your immune system.

    Stay Away From Certain Groups Of People If You Have Shingles

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    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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