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.
Shingles Symptom: Sharp Stabbing Pain
Shingles pain usually has a sharp stabbing, burning, intensely itchy, or pins-and-needles quality, says Alison Lynch, MD, a primary care physician in San Diego, California. It usually shows up in the trunk area of the body, including the chest and upper and lower back. Dr. Lynch says this symptom can begin several days before the rash appears. Consider taking one of these over-the-counter medicines that ease every type of aches and pains.
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What Causes Eye Shingles
Before we take a closer look at shingles affecting the eye , lets talk about what causes shingles in the first place: the chickenpox virus.
As an adult, you may have a hazy memory of spending a week in bed, your itchy body dotted in pink calamine lotion as you binged on daytime TV and ate popsicles by the box.
The blisters may be long gone, but the chickenpox virus still lies dormant in your body.
About one in three U.S. adults will get shingles when the varicella-zoster virus that sparked their childhood chickenpox reactivates in the body, according to Mayo Clinic.
Shingles typically starts out as a band of tenderness or tingling on your skin and then turns into a painful rash.
People will tell you, It was the worst pain I ever had, Rapuano says.
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Contact Dermatitis Can Cause A Rash And Blisters
Contact dermatitis can also cause a rash, blisters, itching, and burning, per the ACAAI. It occurs when the skin comes into contact with an irritant or an allergen, such as soaps, laundry detergents, shampoos, metals, medications, and more. Allergens like poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac can cause red, itchy rashes that may include blisters. Treatment can offer relief and aid healing.
What If I Have Shingles And A Poor Immune System
If you have a poor immune system and develop shingles then see your doctor straightaway. You will normally be given antiviral medication whatever your age and will be monitored for complications. People with a poor immune system include:
- People taking high-dose steroids. per day for more than one week in the previous three months. Or, children who have taken steroids within the previous three months, equivalent to prednisolone 2 mg/kg per day for at least one week, or 1 mg/kg per day for one month.)
- People on lower doses of steroids in combination with other immunosuppressant medicines.
- People taking anti-arthritis medications which can affect the bone marrow.
- People being treated with chemotherapy or generalised radiotherapy, or who have had these treatments within the previous six months.
- People who have had an organ transplant and are on immunosuppressive treatment.
- People who have had a bone marrow transplant and who are still immunosuppressed.
- People with an impaired immune system.
- People who are immunosuppressed with HIV infection.
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What Are Some Common Treatments For Shingles
The CDC recommends that adults 50 years or older receive two doses of the shingles vaccine. Additionally, several antiviral medicines like acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir are available to treat shingles and shorten the length and severity of the illness. These medicines are most effective when taken immediately after the rash appears.
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Shingles Vs Poison Ivy: How To Tell The Difference
Roughly 1 in 3 people in the United States will have shingles in their lifetime, making it one of the most common viral illnesses in older adults.
While shingles and poison ivy can both cause a blistering rash, there are significant differences in symptoms between the two conditions.
In this article, well explore how to tell the difference between shingles and poison ivy, including the symptoms, treatment, and prevention for each condition.
Although shingles and poison ivy may appear similar at first glance, there are definitive differences between the symptoms of shingles and the symptoms of poison ivy rash.
A viral shingles infection generally presents with a specific type of blistery rash thats accompanied by other symptoms of malaise, such as pain, fever, chills, and headaches.
An allergic poison ivy rash may look similar, but is usually more localized and doesnt cause symptoms of feeling unwell.
The chart below outlines the primary differences between a shingles infection and a poison ivy rash.
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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.
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.
Skin Care And Itch Relief For Shingles
To relieve itching and discomfort, try:
- A cool, wet compresses on the affected skin
- Soothing baths and lotions, such as colloidal oatmeal bath, starch baths, or calamine lotion
- Zostrix, a cream that contains capsaicin
- Antihistamines to reduce itching
Keep your skin clean. Throw away bandages you use to cover your skin sores. Throw away or wash in hot water clothing that has contact with your skin sores. Wash your sheets and towels in hot water.
While your skin sores are still open and oozing, avoid all contact with anyone who has never had chickenpox, especially pregnant women.
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When To See A Doctor
Hives may appear as part of a serious allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.
This requires immediate medical care. Along with a rash, anaphylaxis includes other symptoms such as: trouble breathing, swelling of the lips, eyelids, and tongue, dizziness or lightheadedness, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate, or a sudden feeling of intense anxiety.
You should speak with a healthcare provider if you believe you are experiencing an allergic reaction, and seek emergency medical care if you start developing symptoms of anaphylaxis.
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What Is Shingles And What Are Its Causes
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. The rash can appear anywhere on the body, but is most often found on the torso.
Shingles is a reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Following the chicken pox, the virus lies asleep or dormant in nerve tissue. It never truly goes away though. The virus may awaken as Shingles years later. This occurs especially in times of stress or illness.
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Other Health Problems Due To Shingles
Some people develop other health problems after the shingles rash clears, which include:
Postherpetic neuralgia : This is the most common. Occurring where you had the rash, PHN can cause constant tingling, burning, and pain. For others, the pain comes and goes.
Whether the pain is constant or intermittent, it can go on for a long time. You can have PHN for months, years, or the rest of your life. There is no way to know how long it will last.
The pain caused by PHN can become so severe that it interferes with your life, making everyday activities painful. A musician may no longer be able to play an instrument. Some people cannot walk comfortably. It may be difficult to bathe or get dressed. You may have trouble sleeping.
How to prevent PHN: If you have shingles, you can greatly reduce your risk of PHN by getting treated for shingles within 3 days of developing the rash.
Get treated for shingles within 3 days of developing the rash
Taking antiviral medication within 3 days of getting the shingles rash can: Reduce your risk of developing PHN Ease symptoms of shingles Clear the shingles rash more quickly
Other health problems that can develop after the shingles rash clears include:
Blindness or loss of some eyesight
Although rare, some people die of shingles.
Treatment can prevent these complications.
You can find out if you have a greater risk of developing shingles at, Shingles: Causes.
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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.
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Home Remedies For Addressing Shingles
Comprehensive shingles self-care at homes involves the following
- Applying calamine lotion and other essential creams to ease discomfort and soothe the skin
- Gently clean the shingle rash area to avoid bacterial infection.
- Applying cool compresses to the shingles blisters to help reduce discomfort and speed up healing.
- Regularly taking water and other nutritious beverages.
- Resting more often. You can consult the doctor for the pain medication prescription if you cannot sleep because of the pain.
- Minimizing shingles stress by taking walks each day and consuming healthy foods.
Shingles Symptoms: After The Rash
Just like the blisters of chickenpox, the blisters in shingles eventually burst, and the area starts to ooze. The blisters will then crust over and heal. Before the blisters crust over, the VZV virus can be spread to anyone who is not immune to chickenpox through vaccination or previous infection. Herpes zoster spreads when a person who lacks immunity has direct contact with the blisters of someone who has the virus. The scabs eventually fall off, and the rash disappears. Sometimes scarring may result.
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Does Medicare Pay For The Shingles Shot
If you have Medicare with a separate Part D plan, your prescription coverage will include shingles shots. Several companies sell prescription plans, and each has its own deductibles, copays, and network of preferred pharmacies.
- If you get your shot at a preferred pharmacy, your pharmacy will bill Medicare, and youll pay any deductibles or copays.
- At a pharmacy outside your plans preferred network, youll pay more.
- If you get a shot at your doctors office, your doctor may be able to work with a pharmacy to bill Medicare directly. Or you may have to pay up-front and ask Medicare to reimburse you. Be aware that your doctors fee for administering the vaccine may be more than your prescription plan will pay.
Often the most cost-effective way to get a shingles vaccine is to get a prescription from your doctor and then go to a pharmacy in your plans network to get your shot.
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How Long Does A Shingles Outbreak Last
It can take three to five weeks from the time you begin to feel symptoms until the rash totally disappears.
How Is It Treated
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
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Should I Get The Shingles Vaccine
“Because the vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of developing herpes zoster and shingles complications, getting the vaccine is highly recommended,” says Dr. Mohring. “I strongly recommend it for all patients 50 years or older and those who are immunocompromised. It’s safe and effective and reduces severity if you have a breakthrough episode.”
The Shingrix vaccine is a two-dose series given two to six months apart. It’s been shown to be over 90% effective in preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia and remains over 85% effective for at least four years afterward. You will not get shingles from this vaccine, and it is generally safe for those with weakened immune systems.
Who Is At Risk For Getting Shingles
Almost all American adults over age 40 have been exposed to the chickenpox virus and are at risk for developing shingles. Shingles typically occurs in adults older than 50 years of age, and the risk further increases with age. People with weakened immune systems also have an increased risk of experiencing shingles and its complications, such as postherpetic neuralgia and hospitalization. There are an estimated 1 million cases of shingles diagnosed yearly in the U.S. About 1 in 3 Americans will develop shingles during their lifetime.
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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 youve 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.
What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles
Shingles often starts with a burning, tingling, or painful sensation along one side of the torso or head. Within one to five days, a rash will appear. Within a few days, the rash will turn into fluid-filled blisters. The blisters will start to dry up about a week later, and will begin to disappear over the next several weeks. Some people only experience mild itching, but others have intense pain.
If you think you may have shingles, see your doctor as soon as possible, especially if you see blisters on your face or near your eye. Shingles can cause hearing or vision loss, especially if you dont get treatment for it.
No matter where your rash appears, you should seek medical treatment quickly. Your doctor can make a diagnosis and prescribe treatments to help the blisters dry up and heal. This can reduce the duration of the outbreak and your discomfort.
No cure is available for shingles, but most people who have an outbreak get it only once.
Doing the following at home may help you to feel more comfortable:
- Get lots of rest.
- Use cool washcloths on your rash.
- Take oatmeal baths.
- Keep your stress to a minimum.
You should keep the rash covered and wash your hands often to reduce the risk of spreading the infection. Shingles isnt contagious, but you can give someone chickenpox while you have it.
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