Wednesday, May 22, 2024

How Do You Test For Shingles Without Rash

Can You Get Shingles If You Havent Had Chickenpox

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No. You cant get shingles if youve never had chickenpox, but you can get chickenpox from someone who has shingles. If youve never had chickenpox and you come into direct contact with the oozing, blister-like rash of someone with shingles, the varicella-zoster virus can infect you and you would develop chickenpox.

Once youve had chickenpox, you could develop shingles at some point in your life. This is because the varicella-zoster virus never fully goes away after youve had chickenpox. It lies quietly inactive in your nerve tissue. Later in life, the virus may become active again and appears as shingles.

Can you get chickenpox more than once?

Its rare to get chickenpox twice in your life. Once youve had chickenpox, youre usually immune to it for the rest of your life. However, its not totally impossible. If you have a severely weakened immune system , you can get chickenpox a second time. If youve had chickenpox, you are more likely to get shingles at some point in your life than a repeat bout of chickenpox.

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

When Should I Seek Emergency Care For A Shingles Rash

While most cases of shingles are mild, several potential complications may require emergent care:

  • Facial rash. A shingles rash on the face is concerning because eye involvement can lead to blindness. This requires an urgent assessment from an ophthalmologist.
  • Loss of hearing or facial movement. Rarely, shingles can lead to hearing loss or facial nerve paralysis.
  • Disseminated herpes zoster. This widespread shingles rash can also affect your organs. It requires hospitalization with intravenous antiviral treatment.
  • Fever. Shingles in addition to fever can be concerning. It may mean you have a superimposed bacterial infection, which could require antibiotics and close observation.
  • Confusion or seizures. Shingles in addition to confusion or seizures could indicate brain inflammation, which requires hospitalization for IV antiviral treatment and close monitoring.

Dr. Megan Soliman is an ABMS board certified internal medicine physician whose main focus in her clinical practice is patient advocacy. Her research interests include adverse effects of medications and herbal supplements. Soliman is enthusiastic about bread and butter medicine, which includes treating patients with the most common diseases. She also has a passion for reaching underserved communities, including both U.S. and international rural communities.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Ira Gurland.

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How Do You Get Shingles

Everyone who has had chickenpox has VZV in their body and is at risk for getting shingles. Right now, there is no way of knowing who will get the disease. But, some things make it more likely:

  • Advanced age. The risk of getting shingles increases as you age. People may have a harder time fighting off infections as they get older. 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 an HIV infection, cancer, cancer treatments, too much sun, or 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.

Check If You Have Shingles

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The first signs of shingles can be:

  • a tingling or painful feeling in an area of skin
  • a headache or feeling generally unwell

A rash will appear a few days later.

Usually you get the shingles rash on your chest and tummy, but it can appear anywhere on your body including on your face, eyes and genitals.

The rash appears as blotches on your skin, on 1 side of your body only. A rash on both the left and right of your body is unlikely to be shingles.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles

Early symptoms of shingles may include:

Other signs and symptoms appearing a few days after the early symptoms include:

  • An itching, tingling or burning feeling in an area of skin.
  • Redness in the skin in the affected area.
  • Raised rash in a small area of skin.
  • Fluid-filled blisters that break open then scab over.
  • Mild to severe pain in the area of skin affected.

What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles Without A Rash

The symptoms of ZSH are similar to the symptoms of shingles, but without a rash. The symptoms are usually isolated to one side of the body and commonly occur on the face and neck, and in the eyes. Symptoms can also occur in the internal organs. Typical symptoms include:

Shingles isnt contagious. You cant give someone else shingles. If you have shingles and are in contact with someone who hasnt had chickenpox or wasnt vaccinated for chickenpox, you can give that person chickenpox. That person would have to come in direct contact with your shingles rash.

If you have shingles without a rash, you shouldnt be able to pass it to others. Still, its a good idea to avoid contact with people who havent had chickenpox as well as pregnant women until your other symptoms have cleared up.

You can only get shingles if youve had chickenpox in the past. Youre at an increased risk for shingles if you:

  • are over age 50

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What Happens During Chickenpox And Shingles Testing

You will need to provide a sample of blood from your vein or from the fluid in one of your blisters. Blood tests check for antibodies to the VZV. Blister tests check for the virus itself.

For a blood test from a vein, a health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out.

For a blister test, a health care provider will gently press a cotton swab on a blister to collect a sample of fluid for testing.

Both types of tests are quick, usually taking less than five minutes.

Symptoms Of Zoster Sine Herpete

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Zoster sine herpete is not common and can be hard to diagnose as the most common and differentiating shingles rash is not present. Other symptoms of ZSH are similar to regular shingles, which include:

Pain

Shingles is a very painful disease. This pain is typically described as a deep boring or stabbing sensation that is very severe. Because of the impact on the nervous system this pain may have an electric feel to it. In many cases pain will only affect one side of the body and will be localized to a specific area of the skin, though the disease can affect as many as three spinal nerves at a time. As the disease affects the skin, patients may experience a prickling, itching, or numbness on the skin as well.

Flu-like Symptoms

Patients will often develop flu-like symptoms just before the skin lesions appear. This can include body or muscle aches, headaches, mild fever, a general feeling of illness or poor appetite. These symptoms can last as long as 7-10 days. It is important to note that unlike a cold, patients will not develop a runny nose or cough when suffering from shingles.

Movement Problems

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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 Treat Shingles

Patients always want to know how to get rid of shingles. Shingles treatment is usually started once a person is diagnosed, ideally within 72 hours of the start of the rash. Antiviral medications for shingles, such as acyclovir, famciclovir or valacyclovir, are often prescribed for one week or longer, if needed.

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Ringworm Or Shingles Virus: A Case Of Mistaken Identity

Ringworm is an infectious skin disease that, despite its name, is caused by a fungus, whereas the shingles rash is caused by a virus. Ringworm infection causes red, itchy, scaly patches on your skin, often in several places at once. Sometimes the patches blister and ooze, much like the shingles rash. Ringworm is most common in children, and it spreads easily through skin-to-skin contact or contact with an item contaminated with the fungus, like dirty clothes or a shower floor.

Systemic Disease Produced By Vzv Reactivation Without Rash

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Ross et al. reported a case of fatal hepatic necrosis caused by VZV in a 64-year-old woman. She had undergone splenectomy 14 months before the fatal hepatitis. The postmortem diagnosis was based on characteristic pathological changes in the liver, the detection of herpesvirus virions in liver by electron microscopy, and serologic evidence of recent VZV infection. A report of fulminant fatal disseminated VZV infection without rash occurred in an 8-year girl undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia virus was present in blood, lungs, liver, kidneys, and bone marrow . Although the nervous system was spared in both patients, these cases confirm the existence of disseminated VZV infection of multiple organs in the absence of rash.

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Medications To Aid Recovery

Medications which may be prescribed for alleviating the physical discomfort of shingles and combating the flare-up of the varicella zoster virus may include:

  • Painkilling medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , paracetamol or opioids in cases of severe pain. In some cases, antidepressants or anticonvulsants may be prescribed for their pain-relieving properties, which can work effectively in combination with other painkillers.
  • Antiviral medications

Where Does Shingles Come From

When you have chickenpox as a child, your body fights off the varicella-zoster virus and the physical signs of chickenpox fade away, but the virus always remains in your body. In adulthood, sometimes the virus becomes active again. This time, the varicella-zoster virus makes its second appearance in the form of shingles.

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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.

Do You Need To Stay Away From Children People Who Are Pregnant Have Cancer Or Anyone With A Weak Immune System After You Get The Zostavax Vaccine

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According to the CDC, its safe to be around babies and young children, pregnant women or anyone with a weakened immune system after you get the Zostavax vaccine. Even though the Zostavax vaccine contains a weakened live varicella-zoster virus, the CDC says theres no documented case of a person getting chickenpox from someone who has received the Zostavax vaccine. And remember: You cant get shingles unless youve already had chickenpox.

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Shingles And Chickenpox Contagiousness Comparison

Chickenpox is very contagious when in close contact with an infected person. Before the FDA approval of the chickenpox vaccine in 1995, it was a very common childhood illness. Since then, chickenpox cases have dropped by more than 99%. However, unvaccinated people who have never been infected can catch chickenpox at any age. Patients are most contagious when blisters are present, and they should isolate during this phase of the disease.

Shingles occurs most commonly in people over 50 years old, but it can strike at any age in unvaccinated people who have already had chickenpox. But you cannot get shingles if you havent had chickenpox first. The virus in shingles blisters is not as contagious as in chickenpox blisters, but the varicella-zoster virus is still present in the fluid and transmission is possible.

However, you cant get shingles from someone who has shingles. Direct contact with a person who has shingles can only spread VZV to a person who has never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine. If infected with VZV, they will get chickenpox, not shingles. They can develop shingles later as the virus is now in their body.

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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Treat Your Body And Mind

You can get worn down mentally when youâre in constant pain. Stress can make it seem even worse. Self-care starts with treating your rash, but donât stop there. Your mind and emotional state need to be cared for as well.

5. Stick with good habits: Your bodyâs working hard to fight the varicella-zoster virus that causes shingles. To give it the right support, you can:

  • Eat nutritious food and have regular meals. Ask someone to make a run to the grocery store for fresh fruit and such if youâre not up for it.
  • Try to get a good nightâs sleep and rest anytime you need to.
  • Do gentle exercises, such as walking or stretching. Light activity can help take your mind off the pain. Keep it simple though, and check with your doctor if youâre trying something new.

6. Distract yourself: Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to put your focus elsewhere. Here are a few things to try:

How To Tests For The Virus

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Once you have a symptom, see your doctor to test your blood, cerebrospinal fluid, or saliva to identify if the presence of VZV antibodies exists. An antibody test would indicate that you have been exposed to varicella-zoster because your immune system makes proteins to fight the virus. Your doctor will look for these proteins, which are called antibodies. The doctor can confirm a diagnosis of shingles without a rash present. However, these tests can be inconclusive. Your doctor will review your medical history to provide clues that suggest you have shingles without a rash.

Another way of diagnosing shingles is a history of pain on one side of your body, together with the telltale rash and blisters. Your doctor may decide to take a culture or tissue scraping of the blisters for examination in the laboratory.

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Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About Chickenpox And Shingles Tests

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the chickenpox vaccine for children, teens, and adults who never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine. Some schools require this vaccine for admittance. Check with your child’s school and your child’s health care provider for more information.

The CDC also recommends that healthy adults age 50 and older get two doses of the shingles vaccine called Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months. The vaccine provides strong protection against shingles and complications from the disease. You should get the vaccine even if youâve already had shingles, as it may prevent future outbreaks.

A different shingles vaccine called Zostavax is no longer available in the United States. If you had a Zostavax vaccine in the past, you should still get vaccinated with Shingrix. Talk to your health care provider about the best time get Shingrix.

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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