Tuesday, May 28, 2024

How Do You Treat Shingles In The Elderly

Treatment Starts With Prevention

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

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that every adult over the age of 50 be vaccinated. Even if you dont remember whether you had chickenpox, you should be vaccinated anyway, since practically everyone over 60 in this country had exposure to the varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox as a child.

If you have had a vaccine and still develop shingles, your illness will be milder than if you never received the vaccine. The CDC also recommends that you get the vaccination even if you have already had an episode of shingles, because shingles can come back even if youve already had it.

Shingrix is the vaccine recommended to prevent shingles in the United States. Zostavax will no longer be sold in the US market as of November 2020.

Shingrix only helps to prevent shingles. Vaccination wont help you if you have already become ill with the condition or have a complication like post-herpetic neuralgia. However, the intensity of pain might be reduced in vaccinated individuals compared to nonvaccinated people.


Most people experience mild or moderate pain at the injection site. Some people experience fatigue, muscle pain, a headache, chills, fever, stomach pain, or nausea. About 1 out of 6 people who get Shingrix experienced side effects that prevented them from doing regular activities. Symptoms went away on their own in about 2 to 3 days. These reactions can occur after the first or second dose or both doses of Shingrix.

Managing Shingles In The Elderly

Remember the painful, irritating itch of chickenpox as a child? Unfortunately, one of three American adults will experience a second outbreak of the same virus in their lifetimes. When this infection returns, its called shingles.

The elderly, who are at particular risk for contracting shingles, should be closely monitored by a caregiver if an outbreak occurs. If left untreated, shingles side effects could become serious.

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:

  • You have had shingles already.
  • You have been previously vaccinated with Zostavax .
  • You do not 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.

Read Also: Can A Person Have Shingles More Than Once

Go With Gabapentin For Phn

If you do have the lasting nerve pain of PHN, some doctors will prescribe anti-seizure medications, including Neurontin or Lyrica . Even though they were developed as anti-seizure medicines, they can help modulate the nerve pain until the nerves can heal, Dr. Auwaerter explains. These treatments can reduce pain signaling from the nerves to the brain by calming your neurotransmitters for a short time. They are FDA-approved as an effective treatment for PHN. Like antivirals, they require frequent daily dosing, usually three times per day.

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How Do Caregivers Help Seniors Manage Shingles

Symptoms Of Shingles In Adults

Antiviral medication is the first line of defense for seniors suffering from an outbreak of shingles. Antiviral medications include three types: acyclovir , valacyclovir , and famciclovir.

Seniors who experience mild pain from shingles may take over-the-counter drugs, like Tylenol or Advil. Serious pain may require corticosteroids or opioid pain relievers these pain medications should be weighed carefully, since they can interact adversely with medicines the senior currently takes.

Aside from medicine, aging adults will feel relief from wearing loose-fitting clothing. Natural fiber clothes are recommended. Itchy skin may be relieved by applying calamine lotion. Caregivers might also prepare an oatmeal bath for the care recipient as a soothing remedy.

The affected skin should be kept clean. Apply a cool washcloth to the seniors skin to reduce pain the cloth may also be used to dry the blisters. Caregivers should monitor the senior so that she does not scratch the blisters, which can lead to an infection or scarring.

Pain management strategies also include relaxation and adequate rest. Caregivers might encourage activities that distract the senior from her shingles pain, such as watching TV, reading, chatting with a companion caregiver, engaging in craftwork, or working in the backyard garden.

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Common Questions About Shingles

What triggers a shingles outbreak? Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash that can be caused by the varicella zoster virus . The virus is spread through saliva and sweat and can be caused by chickenpox. It can also be caused by reactivation of the VZV infection after a long period of dormancy. There is no cure for shingles, but treatment focuses on relieving pain and providing support to the affected area.

Are your shingles contagious? If youâve ever had shingles, you may be wondering if youâre contagious. Itâs important to know that there is no definitive answer, but itâs possible for shingles to spread from one person to another. There are a few things that can increase your risk of spreading shingles: having close contact with someone who has the virus being pregnant having a weakened immune system and having other chronic medical conditions. If youâre concerned that you may have contracted shingles, itâs important to see your doctor for an evaluation.

How does a person get shingles? A person can get shingles from either chickenpox or herpes simplex virus . The virus attacks the nerve cells in your skin and spinal cord. The pain, inflammation, and blisters that result are called shingles. Although it is rare, a person can also get shingles from a dental procedure or an injury to the skin.

What is the most painful stage of shingles? The most painful stage of shingles is when the rash starts to blister.

How Do You Get Rid Of Shingles

Both shingles and chickenpox are caused by the varicella-zoster virus. You cant get shingles unless youve already had chickenpox. Theres no cure for shingles, but there are treatments to manage its symptoms. Vaccines are available to help prevent shingles and the long-lasting nerve pain that sometimes develops.

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Treatments For Shingles In The Elderly

  • Treatments For Shingles In The
  • Your retirement age loved one may be at risk for developing shingles if, in the past, they had chickenpox. Truth be told, at any age, this condition can develop. The virus is, however, more likely to reactivate in those over 60 years of age. Painful blisters are caused by shingles that can break open, burn, and itch.

    Until the virus runs its course, appropriate treatments for shingles can help keep your loved one more comfortable. Here, we are going to give you a few tips to assist in keeping your aging loved one as comfortable as possible.

    Shingles On Your Face

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

    Shingles usually occurs on one side of your back or chest, but you can also get a rash on one side of your face.

    If the rash is close to or in your ear, it can cause an infection that could lead to:

    • loss of hearing
    • issues with your balance
    • weakness in your facial muscles

    Shingles inside your mouth can be very painful. It may be difficult to eat and may affect your sense of taste.

    A shingles rash on your scalp can cause sensitivity when you comb or brush your hair. Without treatment, shingles on the scalp can lead to permanent bald patches.

    Read Also: When Can You Get A Shingles Shot

    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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    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.

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    Does Medicare Pay For The Shingles Vaccine

    Part A and Part B do not cover the shingles vaccine.

    However, Part D will cover the shingles shot, as well as all other commercially available vaccines.

    Medicare Supplement plans will help fill in the gaps in coverage while under the care of your doctor.

    Part D plans do not cost much they range from anywhere between $13-$76 a month.

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    What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles

    Shingles vaccine ( Zostavax ®) is now available at HCMC

    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.

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    Which Antiviral Medication Is Best For Shingles

    The antiviral medications used to treat shingles are , , and . They are all effective at helping shingles rashes crust over and heal, and they help reduce pain as you are healing.

    In head-to-head studies, a 7-day course of valacyclovir worked faster than a 7-day course of acyclovir at reducing pain. Famciclovir is equivalent to valacyclovir for healing shingles rashes and reducing pain from them. Acyclovir needs to be taken 5 times a day, while Famciclovir and valacyclovir both need to be taken 3 times a day.

    Its worth noting that these antiviral medications dont prevent postherpetic neuralgia, which can happen to some people with shingles. And antiviral ointments like Zovirax will do nothing for the rash from shingles.

    What Specialists Treat Shingles

    Primary care physicians, including internal medicine specialists, family medicine specialists and/or specialists in infectious diseases, can appropriately treat some patients. An emergency medicine physician may start the initial care. However, if there is a chance the eye may be involved, an ophthalmologist should be consulted. If a person is pregnant and gets shingles, they should consult with their ob-gyn physician immediately. For long-term or chronic pain involved in postherpetic neuralgia, a neurologist and/or pain specialists may be involved in the care of the patient.

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    Can Other People Catch It

    This one is confusing! You can catch chickenpox from other people, but you cant catch shingles from other people. You only get shingles from a reactivation of your own chickenpox infection in the past.

    So if you have shingles, and you come into contact with somebody else, they cannot catch your shingles. But if they have never had chickenpox, it is possible that they could catch chickenpox from you.

    To put it another way, no, you dont catch shingles. It comes from a virus hiding out in your own body, not from someone else. But if you have shingles, you may be infectious, as it is possible for people to catch chickenpox from you.

    Only people who have never had chickenpox are likely to be at risk of catching chickenpox from your shingles. People who have had chickenpox should be immune from catching it again. If the rash is in a covered area of skin, the risk of anyone with whom you are not in close contact catching chickenpox is very low.

    How Dangerous Is Shingles

    What Are the Causes and Best Treatments for Shingles?

    Shingles isnt considered a dangerous health condition.

    Each year about 1 million new cases of shingles are reported in the United States. Most people recover and resume their normal activities once theyre no longer infectious.

    However, if shingles isnt treated, particularly severe cases can lead to death.

    People with autoimmune conditions and people over the age of 65 are at a higher risk for shingles complications.

    Women who are pregnant may also be concerned if they develop shingles. You and your baby will most likely be safe. However, talk with your healthcare provider if youre pregnant and suspect you have shingles.

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    Are There Alternative Treatments

    Some studies show that various alternative treatments, from acupuncture to supplements, can offer relief. The research isnât complete, but some shows promise. Check with your doctor before you try any of these:

    TENS . This therapy uses tiny electrical pulses to relieve pain. A TENS unit is about the size of a smartphone and comes with small patches called electrodes. You put them over the painful area and turn the unit on and off as your pain comes and goes.

    Traditional Chinese medicine: These treatments aim to restore balance in your body. They include acupuncture, the ancient practice of inserting very thin needles into your skin at specific points. Also, moxibustion and cupping, two types of heat therapy, are supposed to draw out toxins. These treatments may be done in combination.

    Creams and other skin treatments: A mixture of liquid dimethyl sulfoxide and idoxuridine, an antiviral drug, may reduce swelling and the number of blisters you have when you put it on your rash. And chlorophyll, the chemical that gives plants their green color, is also used directly on the rash as a cream or saline solution.

    Supplements: Youâll find a long list of herbs, pills, and oils that claim to relieve shingles. Most have no research to back them up, but there are a couple of exceptions. Papain, a protein found in papayas, is sold in capsules. And manuka and clover honeys can be put directly on your skin. Very early studies on both show they may be helpful.

    How Do You Treat Shingles In The Elderly

    Things that increase risk for shingles include:

    • Having had chickenpox. You must have had chickenpox to get shingles.
    • Being older than 50.
    • Having a weakened immune system due to another disease, such as diabetes or HIV infection.
    • Experiencing stress or trauma.
    • Having cancer or receiving treatment for cancer.
    • Taking medicines that affect your immune system, such as steroids or medicines that are taken after having an organ transplant.

    If a pregnant woman gets chickenpox, her baby has a high risk for shingles during his or her first 2 years of life. And if a baby gets chickenpox in the first year of life, he or she has a higher risk for shingles during childhood.footnote 1

    Post-herpetic neuralgia is a common complication of shingles that lasts for at least 30 days and may continue for months or years. You can reduce your risk for getting shingles and developing PHN by getting the shingles vaccine.

    Read Also: When Do You Get The 2nd Shingles Vaccine

    Getting Vaccinated For Shingles

    Anyone over the age of 50 should get the shingles vaccine. The CDC recommends the Shingrix vaccine which it calls âthe best way to help protect yourself against shingles.â The Shingrix vaccine protects both from the emergence of shingles as well as the long-term nerve pain which can be a result of shingles.

    The vaccine comes in 2 doses. The vaccine can be done at your doctorâs office or in some pharmacies. Many health insurances cover the costs of the Shingrix vaccine. The second dose must be done anywhere between two and six months after the first dose.

    Shingrix is, according to the CDC, â90% effective at preventing shingles and long-term nerve pain.â There are possible side effects to the vaccine, most of them mild side effects which have little-to-no impact on daily life tasks. The possible side effects include:

    â Sore arm

    â Redness or swelling around area of shot

    â Fatigue

    â Muscle pain

    â Headache

    â Stomach pain

    â Fever

    â Shivers

    The side effects tend to go away after no more than three days. Just under 17% of people who received the vaccine were unable to perform certain tasks such as âyardwork or swimming.â As the CDC notes, it is important to remember that âthe pain from shingles can last a lifetime, and these side effects should only last a few days.â

    Managing Shingles In Older Adults

    The Best Scabies Treatment

    Populations of elderly adults are at a higher risk of contracting shingles because of lower immune capacity. As we age, our bodies begin to become more susceptible to outside influences.

    Immunocompromised individuals with other underlying conditions also face a higher risk. In fact, . This means older adults have the most to worry about when it comes to contracting shingles and living with its effects.

    There are unique factors to consider for elderly populations, particularly if those individuals live at home and do not have access to medical support or means of self-care.

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