What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Shingles
Often the first shingles symptoms happen in the area where the rash will appear. A person may have tingling, itching, or pain in this area. When the rash shows up, the pain may be mild or severe.
The rash starts as groups of tiny pimples on one side of the body or the face. It’s often in the shape of a band or belt. The pimples change to pus-filled blisters that break open and scab over in about 710 days. The scabs usually heal and fall off about 24 weeks after the rash starts.
Some kids with shingles also may have a fever and a headache, and might feel tired and achy. Rarely, a child has the pain of shingles without the rash. More severe symptoms can happen, but usually in people over age 50.
What Is The Outlook
If you have a particularly severe case of shingles, it could take months to go away. It can also become a long-term problem for some people. If you have postherpetic neuralgia, you may need to see your doctor more often.
Complications that involve the eye or ear may require ongoing care, especially if you have lingering vision or hearing problems.
Most people have shingles only once, but it can recur. This is more likely to happen if you have a weakened immune system.
If you havent had any major complications, your symptoms should clear up within a matter of weeks with few, if any, lasting effects.
What Are Eye Shingles
Eye shingles is a painful rash of the skin around the eye. It typically affects the forehead and skin of the upper lid. It also can affect the side or tip of the nose. If not quickly daignosed and treated, shingles in the eye can cause permanent damage to your vision.
Shingles on the face and eye is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles can be limited to the area around your eye or it can cause a painful red rash elsewhere on your body.
Over the past six decades, cases of shingles have been on the rise.
The number of cases of eye shingles in the United States tripled from 2004 to 2016, according to University of Michigan’s Kellogg Eye Center.
Researchers found that people over age 75 have the greatest risk. Whites and women also present with a higher incidence of eye shingles.
What explains this increase? Weakening of the immune system from chronic diseases and stress are factors.
Dr. Christopher Rapuano, MD, chief of Cornea Service at Wills Eye Hospital, one of the top U.S. ophthalmic specialty hospitals, says few Americans are getting vaccinated for shingles, which is the best way to avoid the disease and protect your eyes.
Shingles can cause bad things to happen to the eyes, and some of those things can happen even with good treatment, he says.
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Is There A Shingles Vaccination
In the UK there is a shingles vaccine immunisation programme for people aged 70 years to protect against herpes zoster. There is also a catch-up programme which offers the vaccine to anyone aged between 70 and 79 years who has previously missed out on immunisation. The vaccine is licensed for people aged over 50 years, and if you are not eligible for the vaccine on the NHS, your pharmacist may be able to provide the vaccine as a private service.
The chickenpox vaccine is not routinely given to children in the UK but is offered to people who are in close contact with someone who is particularly vulnerable to chickenpox or its complications – eg, people with a weakened immune system.
Where Can I Find More Information About Research On Shingles
In addition to the NINDS, several other NIH organizations support research relevant to understanding, treating, or preventing shingles and its complications, including the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institute on Aging .
- NIH RePORTER is a searchable database of current and previously funded research supported by NIH and some other federal agencies. RePORTER also includes links to research results such as patents and publications citing support from these projects.
- PubMed allows users to search millions of journal article abstracts in biomedical research fields. The full text of many articles describing research funded by NIH and other sources is also freely available through PubMedCentral
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Scalp Pain And Hair Loss
Shingles of the scalp can lead to PHN pain in the areas of the scalp where the rash was, and long after the skin has cleared. It can also cause hair loss from scratching or combing too hard during a shingles attack, leading to a condition called cicatricial alopecia or scarring alopecia.
Hair loss occurs when the shingles rash destroys hair follicle cells responsible for new hair growth. With these cells damaged, the hair loss is permanent.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Ive had chickenpox. Am I at risk of developing shingles?
- What is the best treatment for my shingles?
- The pain from shingles isnt going away. What can I do to make myself more comfortable?
- Im on treatment for shingles. When should I call my doctor if things dont get better?
- I have shingles and my children havent had the chickenpox vaccine. Should I get them vaccinated?
- Is the shingles vaccine right for me?
- Are there any risks associated with the shingles vaccine?
- Will my post-herpetic neuralgia ever go away?
- If Ive never had the chickenpox, should I still get the shingles vaccination?
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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
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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Burning Feeling And Red Rash
Between 1 and 5 days after you start to feel the tingling or numb feeling, a red rash will develop on the same area of your skin. Most often, the rash appears on one side of your torso, but it can show up anywhere on your body.
You may also have other symptoms along with the rash, such as:
When the rash starts, you should see a doctor for treatment as soon as possible. Starting antiviral medication treatment within 3 days of the rash first appearing can lower your risk of developing complications, like long-term pain.
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.
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Steroid Medication For Shingles
Steroids help to reduce swelling . A short course of steroid tablets may be considered in addition to antiviral medication. This may help to reduce pain and speed healing of the rash. However, the use of steroids in shingles is controversial. Your doctor will advise you. Steroids do not prevent PHN.
How Is Shingles Diagnosed
If you have symptoms of shingles, especially if they involve your face, see your doctor or ophthalmologist right away.
Doctors can usually diagnose a shingles rash by performing a physical exam. Your doctor can also take a scraping of your skin rash and send it to a lab for examination under a microscope.
Its particularly important to seek treatment if you have a compromised immune system. Early treatment can help cut down on your chances for serious complications.
Shingles will have to run its course, but quite a few treatment options are available. These include:
- antiviral drugs
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How Do Health Care Professionals Diagnose Shingles
Shingles can often be diagnosed by your doctor based upon the distinctive appearance and distribution of the characteristic shingles rash. A painful, blistering rash that is localized to defined dermatomes is a sign highly suggestive of shingles. Blood work or other testing is usually not necessary. Diagnosing shingles before the appearance of the rash or in cases of zoster sine herpete can be challenging. In cases where the diagnosis is unclear, laboratory tests are available to help confirm the diagnosis. Depending on the clinical situation, testing can be done using either blood work or by specialized testing of skin lesion samples.
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When Should You See A Healthcare Provider For Shingles
If you experience persistent pain or a widespread itchy rash on the body or face, you should reach out to your healthcare provider. The National Institute of Aging recommends that you see your healthcare provider no later than three days after the rash or skin pain has appeared.
Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to reducing your risk for complications, helping you to heal quicker and reduce the potential for scarring.
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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.
Can You Prevent Shingles
Shingles are caused by an outbreak of the chickenpox virus. You have two avenues to follow that lead to prevention, including avoidance and vaccines.
If you’ve never been exposed to the chickenpox virus, prevention is critical. That means you should avoid:
- Anyone with active chickenpox. The puss inside the chickenpox holds the virus, and it’s very contagious. Steer clear of anyone who has been diagnosed. Chickenpox is considered to be more contagious than shingles.
- Anyone with shingles. You can get shingles from someone with an outbreak, although it’s rare. If you’ve never been exposed, do not take a chance.
If the outbreak is in the blister phase, the person is contagious. Once the blisters crust over, the person is no longer contagious. If the person keeps their rash and blisters covered, the risk of spreading the virus is low.
Some people are more susceptible to contracting the virus. This includes people with certain autoimmune conditions as well as those with other conditions that suppress the immune system. People who take certain immunosuppressive medications are also at a higher risk.
Adults 50 and older can use a vaccine for protection. Experts agree that the vaccine is not perfect, and some people who get it still get sick later. But it can reduce your risk of an outbreak. Your doctor can tell you whether you should get it and when.
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When Shingles Strikes Your Face
Dozens of muscles line your face, and they help you talk, eat, blink, and wink. All those movements start with nerve impulses, and any nerve band can get hit with a shingles outbreak.
Just one side of the face is touched by the issue, and the blisters will not spread. If you touch the bumps on one side of your face and then touch the other, you can’t spread the problem around. The virus sits within the nerves, far below the skin, and you can’t influence how the infection spreads.
Your shingles may appear on or around your eyelid, and that can make blinking difficult or painful. Sometimes, the tissues swell, and that makes it hard for you to open your eye.
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.
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 you’ve 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.
How Is Shingles Treated
There is no cure for shingles, but antiviral medicine may relieve the symptoms and help prevent complications. See your doctor for a prescription of antiviral medicines as soon as possible after symptoms develop. Treatment should be started within 3 days of the shingles rash appearing.
If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about whether antivirals are right for you.
Over-the counter medicines, such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, can be used for pain relief. If over-the-counter medicines are not controlling your pain, your doctor may prescribe other medicines.
There are several things you can do to help manage the condition. They include the following.
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Symptoms Of Shingles On The Face
Shingles on the face can affect the eyes in various ways, including contributing to blindness. When the condition spreads to your eye, it causes redness and swelling. Most people record feeling a burning sensation prior to the first appearance of red bumps.
The rash normally starts as fluid-filled blisters or lesions. The lesions eventually burst, ooze and crust over before the scabs fall off after a few days. Other common symptoms of face shingles include:
- Sensitivity to touch
Is Shingles Contagious
It is not possible to catch shingles from someone else with the condition, or from someone with chickenpox.
However, it is possible for someone who has never had chickenpox to catch it from someone with shingles, as the shingles blisters contains the live virus.
In the UK, chickenpox is so common during childhood that 9 out of 10 adults have already had it and will not be at risk from someone with shingles.
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How Common Is Shingles
Shingles is an infection of a nerve and the area of skin supplied by the nerve. It is caused by a virus called the varicella-zoster virus. It is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who has had chickenpox in the past may develop shingles. Shingles is sometimes called herpes zoster.
About 1 in 4 people have shingles at some time in their lives. It can occur at any age but it is most common in older adults . After the age of 50, it becomes increasingly more common as you get older. It is uncommon to have shingles more than once but some people do have it more than once.
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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