Monday, April 15, 2024

How Do You Know If Your Getting Shingles

Other Health Problems Due To Shingles

How to treat 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.

Images

Seek Treatment Right Away

Many people have the mistaken impression that, like poison ivy, shingles is a nuisance rash that fades on its own. But in fact a shingles rash should alert people, especially in middle or old age, to seek immediate medical help, says Dr. Oaklander.

Rapid treatment with one of three antiviral drugs, acyclovir , valacyclovir , or famciclovir , can shorten a shingles attack and reduce the risk of serious damage, such as:

  • Long-term pain. Pain that lingers in the area of a healed shingles rash is called postherpetic neuralgia. This often-disabling pain can last several months to a year.
  • Prolonged itching. Many people are left with an itchy area from their shingles, which can be as disabling as chronic pain. It is most common on the head or neck.
  • Damage to vision and hearing. Pain and rash near an eye can cause permanent eye damage and requires an urgent ophthalmological exam. When the nerve to the ear is affected, it can permanently damage hearing or balance.
  • Strokes and heart attacks. A PLOS Medicinestudy that tracked about 67,000 people ages 65 and older who were newly diagnosed with shingles found that stroke risk more than doubled in the first week after the shingles diagnosis. The same study reported an increased risk for heart attacks in the three months after shingles, but the additional risk dissipated after six months.

Preventing The Virus Spreading

If you have the shingles rash, do not share towels or flannels, go swimming, or play contact sports. This will help prevent the virus being passed on to someone who has not had chickenpox.

You should also avoid work or school if your rash is weeping and cannot be covered.

Chickenpox can be particularly dangerous for certain groups of people. If you have shingles, avoid:

  • women who are pregnant and have not had chickenpox before as they could catch it from you, which may harm their unborn baby
  • people who have a weak immune system, such as someone with HIV or AIDS
  • babies less than one month old, unless it is your own baby, in which case your baby should have antibodies to protect them from the virus

Once your blisters have dried and scabbed over, you are no longer contagious and will not need to avoid anyone.

Read Also: What Does Shingles Look Like On Hands

Can You Get Shingles In The Eye

Its most common to get the shingles rash on your chest, back or legs but you can get shingles on the face and eye, Rapuano says. About 15% of cases involve shingles in the eye area, he says.

However, theres a difference between having shingles around the eye and having shingles in the eye, which doctors refer to as eye involvement, Rapuano says. A patient can have shingles around the eye area without the eye itself being involved, he says.

About half of people who have shingles on the forehead or nose will also have eye involvement.

Ocular shingles typically occurs in one eye on the same side of the face as the rash. It typically occur after the shingles rash on the body has resolved, Rapuano says.

A patient who has had shingles on the face may feel like theyre healing well but then notice a symptom such as redness in the eye. When this happens, patients need to see an eye doctor right away, Rapuano says.

When To See A Doctor

Check if you have shingles

A person should see a doctor if they are experiencing any early symptoms of shingles, especially if they have a history of shingles or are at a higher risk of developing an acute outbreak of the virus due to any of the risk factors above.

A person undergoing treatment for shingles should follow up with a doctor if:

  • the symptoms get significantly worse after treatment
  • the symptoms do not go away within a few weeks
  • new or different symptoms appear in addition to the rash
  • there are signs of secondary infection, such as high fever, an open wound, or red streaks coming out of a shingles lesion

People should also speak to a doctor if they have lasting nerve pain in the affected region after the rash of shingles disappears. This complication, called postherpetic neuralgia, affects

In many cases , a doctor will prescribe an antiviral medication, such as famciclovir, valacyclovir, or acyclovir. Pain-relieving medicine can also help ease symptoms. Calamine lotion, colloidal oatmeal compresses and baths, and cold compresses may ease the itching of shingles.

It is important to refrain from scratching the affected area as this can irritate the blisters and increase the risk of infection.

Some people develop a superimposed bacterial skin infection over their shingles lesions. This infection can be very painful, and it may spread if a person does not receive treatment. Individuals who develop this infection in addition to shingles may require antibiotic treatment or even hospitalization.

Read Also: What Do Shingles Look Like When They First Appear

Can You Get Shingles More Than Once

Although possible, its rare to experience shingles more than once. In a 2019 study , researchers found the reoccurrence rate of shingles was 5.3 percent over an average of a 4.4-year follow-up period.

The researchers found that experiencing shingles that lasted more than 30 days significantly increased the risk of reoccurrence. Other risk factors were:

Dont Shrug Off Shingles

  • By Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Menâs Health Watch

ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

If you had chickenpox as a kid, there is a good chance you may develop shingles later in life. In fact, one in three is predicted to get shingles during their lifetime, says Dr. Anne Louise Oaklander, director of the Nerve Unit at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

The same varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox also causes shingles. After the telltale spots of chickenpox vanish, the virus lies dormant in your nerve cells near the spinal cord and brain. When your immunity weakens from normal aging or from illnesses or medications, the virus can re-emerge. It then travels along a nerve to trigger a rash in the skin connected to that nerve. The rash often appears on only one side of your body. The most common locations are the chest, back, or stomach, or above one eye.

Recommended Reading: Why Does My Arm Hurt So Much After Shingles Shot

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.

Also Check: How Much Is The Shingles Shot At Walgreens

How Do You Know If Shingles Are Healing

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

Shingles blisters often scab up in 7-10 days and vanish in two to four weeks. The blisters leave no scars in most healthy persons, and the pain and itching subside within a few weeks or months. People with compromised immune systems, on the other hand, may have shingles blisters that do not heal quickly. In such cases, the person may develop a chronic skin problem called zoster.

If you have had previous cases of shingles, you are likely to get it again. Once you have had shingles, your body is then prepared to fight off the virus that causes it. About half of people who get shingles will eventually get another case. The more cases of shingles you have, the greater your risk of developing zoster.

People who get shingles usually get over its effects completely in a few months. However, the virus that causes shingles can linger in your nervous system for several years after the first outbreak of symptoms. This is why it’s important to get vaccinated every year until at least the age of 50.

In some people, however, the virus causing shingles does not go away after their first infection. These people are likely to experience recurring bouts of shingles throughout their lives. Such people may also have problems with pain, sensitivity, or loss of muscle control due to nerve damage from the virus.

You May Like: How To Cut Ridge Cap Shingles

Why Does Shingles Appear Mostly On One Side Or In One Area Of The Body

The virus travels in specific nerves, so you will often see shingles occur in a band on one side of the body. This band corresponds to the area where the nerve transmits signals. The shingles rash stays somewhat localized to an area it does not spread over your whole body. The torso is a common area, as is the face.

What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles

Usually, shingles develops on just one side of the body or face, and in a small area. The most common place for shingles to occur is in a band around one side of the waistline.

Most people with shingles have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Fluid-filled blisters
  • Tingling, itching, or numbness of the skin
  • Chills, fever, headache, or upset stomach

For some people, the symptoms of shingles are mild. They might just have some itching. For others, shingles can cause intense pain that can be felt from the gentlest touch or breeze. Its important to talk with your doctor if you notice any shingles symptoms.

If you notice blisters on your face, see your doctor right away because this is an urgent problem. Blisters near or in the eye can cause lasting eye damage and blindness. Hearing loss, a brief paralysis of the face, or, very rarely, inflammation of the brain can also occur.

You May Like: Does Health Insurance Cover Shingles Vaccine

Do Shingles Blisters Always Burst

Shingles blisters, like chickenpox blisters, finally rupture and the region begins to flow. After that, the blisters will crust over and recover. They cannot be healed by medicine or anything else except time.

The only way to avoid having them burst is if you never develop a rash. The virus can remain in your nerve cells and return at a later date to cause new rashes. However, this is rare. Most people will eventually see their rashes heal without ever being exposed to another person with the virus.

Sharing utensils with someone who has shingles can lead to infection if not treated quickly therefore, it is important to follow proper hygiene procedures while having contact with someone who has the virus. Avoiding exposure to sunlight can help prevent new rashes from forming. Not everyone who gets shingles develops blisters on their skin. Some people may experience pain rather than blistering. This is called “zoster sine herpete” . People who get zoster have increased risk of developing other health problems such as stroke, heart attack, and even death. Therefore, it is important to seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms after an outbreak of shingles.

About Article Author

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

Progression Of Shingles 1

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.

Read Also: What Are Some Side Effects Of The Shingles Vaccine

What You Can Do To Help Recover From Shingles

There is no cure for shingles, but there are medications, including antiviral medications, such as acyclovir or valacyclovir, to help fight the infection.

While your shingles is active, you should:

  • Rest and relax. Try moderate activities, such as walking and listening to music that can help take your mind off the pain. For severe pain, your doctor may prescribe narcotic pain relievers, corticosteroids, and anticonvulsants.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes.
  • Keep the rash clean and dry. Do not cover it or use ointments, which can prevent the blisters from bursting and beginning to scab over.
  • Try cool compresses, calamine lotion, or an oatmeal bath to ease the itching and pain of the rash.
  • Dont share bedding, clothing or towels in order to avoid spreading the infection while you have blisters.

There are effective vaccinations available to prevent shingles, so if you have had chickenpox, talk with your healthcare provider about getting protected from shingles.

Tingling Pain Or Numbness

During the first stage of shingles, before anything appears on your skin, a particular area of your body may begin to feel different. When a shingles outbreak is starting, you may feel itching, burning, or pain,” Kim says. Often you will feel this on only one side of your body.

The initial signs of shingles may feel different for each person. In some cases, shingles can cause intense sensitivity, making it painful to even wear clothes over your skin, while in other cases, your skin may feel numb.

Also Check: What Medication Helps With Shingles

When To Contact A Doctor

Its important to visit your doctor as soon as possible if you suspect you have shingles, especially if youre somebody at an increased risk of developing it.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends visiting a dermatologist or other healthcare professional within 3 days to prevent long-term complications.

Shingles typically clears up within a few weeks and does not commonly recur. If your symptoms have not lessened within 10 days, contact a doctor for a follow-up and reevaluation.

Who Should Get Shingrix

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

Adults 50 years and older should get two doses of Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months. Adults 19 years and older who have or will have weakened immune systems because of disease or therapy should also get two doses of Shingrix. If needed, people with weakened immune systems can get the second dose 1 to 2 months after the first.

You should get Shingrix even if in the past you:

  • Received varicella vaccine

There is no maximum age for getting Shingrix.

If you had shingles in the past, Shingrix can help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific length of time that you need to wait after having shingles before you can receive Shingrix, but generally you should make sure the shingles rash has gone away before getting vaccinated.

Chickenpox and shingles are related because they are caused by the same virus . After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in the body. It can reactivate years later and cause shingles.

Shingrix is available in doctors offices and pharmacies.

If you have questions about Shingrix, talk with your healthcare provider.

* A shingles vaccine called zoster vaccine live is no longer available for use in the United States, as of November 18, 2020. If you had Zostavax in the past, you should still get Shingrix. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best time to get Shingrix.

You May Like: Do I Need Shingles Vaccine If I Already Had Shingles

How Is Shingles Treated

Specific treatment for shingles will be determined by your healthcare provider based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • How long the shingles have been present
  • Extent of the condition
  • Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the condition
  • Your opinion or preference

There is no cure for shingles. It simply has to run its course. Treatment focuses on pain relief. Painkillers may help relieve some of the pain. Antiviral drugs may help lessen some of the symptoms and reduce nerve damage. Other treatments may include:

  • Creams or lotions to help relieve itching
  • Cool compresses applied to affected skin areas
  • Antiviral medicines
  • Anticonvulsants

Popular Articles
Related news