Tuesday, May 28, 2024

How Long Can Shingles Pain Last

What Are Some Common Treatments For Shingles

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

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.

How Is Shingles Diagnosed And Treated

If you think you might have shingles, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Its important to see your doctor no later than three days after the rash starts. The doctor will confirm whether you have shingles and can make a treatment plan. Most cases can be diagnosed from a visual examination. If you have a condition that weakens the immune system, your doctor may order a shingles test. Although there is no cure for shingles, early treatment with antiviral medications can help the blisters clear up faster and limit severe pain. Shingles can often be treated at home.

How Long Does Shingles Last Untreated

You may want to allow the shingles to heal on their own. However, you must be ready to bear the pain for long period of up to five weeks. Most doctors advise you to get treatment as soon as you can as allowing it to heal on its own may lead to complications.

Dr Wheeler encourages people to visit their health care as soon as the symptoms of shingles appear. He further explains that prompt intervention curtails chances of infection consequently decreasing chances of complications.

As much as shingles is nothing to scare you, you should not leave it untreated and in the open. This is so as to avoid any possible spread. Apart from that, if shingles will prevent you from going to work, just get treated because leaving it untreated will force you to spend so much time away from what you love doing for a longer period.

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What Does Early Stages Of Shingles Look Like

Shingles progress through several stages as the virus replicates in your body. Shingles start as a rash with red bumps, known as papules, distributed most frequently over your back and torso.

Within several days, grouped blisters are present. Within seven to ten days, the vesicles dry up and crust.

The early stage of shingles looks like small, red, raised, solid pimples or an inflamed rash. These are tiny, raised bumps on the skin. Eventually, these bumps blister and later crust. The beginning stages of shingles create tingling and localized pain.

The early stages of shingles are also described as itching, burning, or deep pain. People who have had shingles also described the early stages as similar to the beginning of the flu.

A Word About The Shingles Vaccine

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If you are age 60 or over and have not had shingles, talk to your doctor about getting the shingles vaccine. Not only will it reduce your risk of developing shingles, but if you do develop shingles, youll be more likely to have a mild case. And, just as important, youll be much less likely to develop PHN if youve had the vaccine.

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What Is Shingles And Who Can Get It

Shingles is another name for a condition called herpes zoster. It causes a painful rash. You can only get shingles if you had chickenpox in the past.

After you have chickenpox , the virus that causes it stays in your body, in certain nerve cells. Most of the time your immune system keeps the chickenpox virus in these cells. As you get older or if your immune system gets weak, the chickenpox virus may escape from the nerve cells and cause shingles.

Most people who get shingles are more than 50 years old or have a weak immune system. For example, you might get shingles if you have cancer, take medicines that weaken your immune system or have the virus that causes AIDS .

How Does It Occur

If you have had chickenpox, you are at risk for later developing shingles. After you recover from chickenpox, the chickenpox virus stays in your body. It moves to the roots of your nerve cells and becomes inactive . Later, if the virus becomes active again, shingles is the name given to the symptoms it causes.

What exactly causes the virus to become active is not known. A weakened immune system seems to allow reactivation of the virus. This may occur with normal aging, immune-suppressing medicines, or another illness, or after major surgery. It can also happen as a complication of cancer or AIDS or treatment of these illnesses. Chronic use of steroid drugs may trigger shingles. The virus may also become active again after the skin is injured or sunburned. Emotional stress seems to be a common trigger as well.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Postherpetic Neuralgia

Common postherpetic neuralgia symptoms include:

  • Burning, sharp, jagging or aching pain in the area where the shingles rash appeared.
  • Itchiness or numbness at or near the area of the former rash.
  • Pain that is constant or comes and goes. Pain typically lasts, on average, for three months after the rash has healed, but can last for more than a year or longer.
  • Pain at affected skin area can be brought on even with a light touch .
  • Pain gets worse at night or in heat or cold temperatures.

How Is Postherpetic Neuralgia Diagnosed

New treatment for the pain of shingles

Postherpetic neuralgia is usually diagnosed based on your symptoms, history of having shingles and physical exam. If youve had a recent case of shingles and have pain in the area where the shingles rash once was, you likely have PHN. Your provider may want to make sure your pain is not caused by something else, but in most cases, no other tests are needed.

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How Common Is Postherpetic Neuralgia

Varicella-zoster virus causes both chickenpox and shingles. About 99% of Americans over age 40 have had chickenpox. About one in three people in the U.S. develop shingles in their lifetime. Some 10 to 18% of people who get shingles will develop postherpetic neuralgia. Postherpetic neuralgia is the most common complication of shingles.

What Can I Do About The Pain

To help with the pain of shingles, your doctor might have you take an over-the-counter pain medicine like acetaminophen or ibuprofen . Aspirin is not recommended because you might also get Reye’s syndrome, a liver problem.

Putting a medicated lotion on the blisters might help the pain and itching. Putting cool compresses soaked in an astringent liquid on the blisters and sores also might make them hurt or itch less.

If shingles causes severe pain, your doctor might have you take a prescription pain medicine.

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What Can I Do For The Pain

To help with the pain of shingles, your doctor might have you take an over-the-counter pain medicine. This could include acetaminophen or ibuprofen .

Applying a medicated anti-itch lotion to the blisters might reduce the pain and itching. Placing cool compresses soaked in water mixed with white vinegar on the blisters and sores might also help.

If shingles causes severe pain, your doctor might prescribe a stronger pain medicine.

Spinal Cord Or Peripheral Nerve Stimulation

How to Treat Post Shingles Pain

These are often used to treat several different types of neuropathic pain. Electrodes are placed underneath the skin along the affected peripheral nerves. Before using this technique, doctors will do a test using a wire electrode to get a sense of how the patient will respond.

After the electrodes have been placed above the peripheral nerve, a weak electrical current is sent to the nerve. By stimulating a sensory pathway that doesnt cause pain, experts believe that this electrical signal to the brain can trick the brain into turning off the painful signal, bringing relief to the patient.

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Rebooting The Nervous System

Its like restarting a computer, Dr. Rosenquist says. When its running slowly or acting weird, you restart it. We are trying to turn that nerve off. When it comes back on, hopefully, it will send an appropriate transmission as opposed to a pain transmission.

Treatmentoptions for PHN patients include:

  • Intercostal nerve blocks: A local anesthetic can be injected between two ribs.
  • Thoracic epidural injections: Anti-inflammatory medicine can be injected into the space around the spinal cord to decrease nerve root inflammation and reduce pain.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: Medications such as amitriptyline may be used to relieve pain.
  • Membrane stabilizers: Medications such as gabapentin can be used to reduce the pain associated with PHN.
  • Capsaicin cream: This topical cream can be applied to the affected area to relieve pain temporarily.
  • Patientswith refractory PHN rarely need opioid pain medication. However,you should be evaluated by a physician. We cant make a blanket statement abouttreatment. It is individualized, she says.

    Although Shingles Typically Lasts Three To Five Weeks The Pain Can Linger Learn The Timeline Of A Shingles Rash

    Medically reviewed in March 2021

    If you have shingles or are concerned about getting shingles, you may be wondering how long the rash will last.

    Also called herpes zoster, shingles is a reactivation of the same virus that causes chicken pox. This reactivation causes a painful rash, which usually appears on one side of the torso, though it can occur in other areas of the body, including the face.

    Shingles step-by-step Most cases of shingles will last from around three to five weeks. Here is a typical timeline of a shingles outbreak and recovery:

    • To begin: You may feel numbness or itching on one side of your body. Burning or tingling pain is also common.
    • Days 1 to 5: A red, painful rash appears.
    • A few days after the rash appears: The rash becomes fluid-filled blisters.
    • Days 7 to 10: The blisters dry up and crust over.
    • Weeks 3 to 5: The scabs heal and clear up.

    If at all possible, its best to see a healthcare provider as soon as symptoms begin. Within the first 72 hours of when the rash appears, your healthcare provider can prescribe an antiviral medication that you take by mouth. This can shorten the duration of your shingles outbreak, and lower the risk of long-term lingering pain, called post-herpetic neuralgia . Your healthcare provider can also prescribe other treatments to help ease the itching of a shingles rashsuch as wet compresses, calamine lotion, and colloidal oatmeal bathsas well as pain medications to relieve the pain associated with shingles.

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    What Is Postherpetic Neuralgia

    Postherpetic neuralgia is a complication of shingles infection . Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox.

    Shingles causes a painful, blistering rash and other symptoms. The rash most commonly occurs in a band pattern on one side of your body, usually on your trunk . The rash turns into blisters. As the rash/blisters go away, pain may remain. When pain remains, the condition is called postherpetic neuralgia.

    Questions To Ask Your Doctor

    How to treat shingles
    • 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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    Can I Prevent It

    The FDA has approved two shingles vaccines, Zostavax and Shingrix. A vaccine is now recommended for everyone 60 and older. People from 50 to 59 may want to talk to their doctor about it if they have ongoing pain or skin issues or have a weakened immune system.

    The vaccines cut the chance of shingles by at least 50%. Even if you still get shingles, the painful period is shortened and you reduce your risk of postherpetic neuralgia.

    Early treatment for shingles can also lower your chances of getting this complication. So if you think you have it, call your doctor right away. The main treatment is with antiviral drugs during the early stages of shingles, within 2 to 3 days of symptoms coming on. Medications used include:

    What Are The Symptoms

    The first sign of shingles is often burning, sharp pain, tingling, or numbness in your skin on one side of your body or face. The most common site is the back or upper abdomen. You may have severe itching or aching. You also may feel tired and ill with fever, chills, headache, and upset stomach or belly pain.

    One to 14 days after you start feeling pain, you will notice a rash of small blisters on reddened skin. Within a few days after they appear, the blisters will turn yellow, then dry and crust over. Over the next 2 weeks the crusts drop off, and the skin continues to heal over the next several days to weeks.

    Because shingles usually follows nerve paths, the blisters are usually found in a line, often extending from the back or side around to the belly. The blisters are almost always on just one side of the body. Shingles usually doesn’t cross the midline of the body. The rash also may appear on one side of your face or scalp. The painful rash may be in the area of your ear or eye. When shingles occurs on the head or scalp, symptoms can include headaches and weakness of one side of the face, which causes that side of the face to look droopy. The symptoms usually go away eventually, but it may take many months.

    In some cases the pain can last for weeks, months, or years, long after the rash heals. This is called postherpetic neuralgia.

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    What Increases The Risk Of Long

    The risk of developing post-herpetic neuralgia increases with age. Four weeks after getting shingles,

    • 27% of 55- to 59-year-olds and
    • 73% of over 70-year-olds had nerve pain.

    Women seem to be more likely to have longer-lasting nerve pain than men. Post-herpetic neuralgia is also more likely to develop if your eyes were affected by shingles.

    How Long Does Shingles Last

    Shingles and Shingrix

    Most cases of shingles last three to five weeks.

    • The first sign is often burning or tingling pain sometimes it includes numbness or itching on one side of the body.
    • Somewhere between one and five days after the tingling or burning feeling on the skin, a red rash will appear.
    • A few days later, the rash will turn into fluid-filled blisters.
    • About one week to 10 days after that, the blisters dry up and crust over.
    • A couple of weeks later, the scabs clear up.

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    When Should I Get The Shingles Vaccine

    The current shingles vaccine is a safe, easy, and more effective way to prevent shingles than the previous vaccine. In fact, it is over 90% effective at preventing shingles. Most adults age 50 and older should get vaccinated with the shingles vaccine, which is given in two doses. You can get the shingles vaccine at your doctors office and at some pharmacies.

    You should get the shingles vaccine if you:

    • Have already had chickenpox, the chickenpox vaccine, or shingles
    • Received the prior shingles vaccine called Zostavax
    • Dont remember having had chickenpox

    Medicare Part D and private health insurance plans may cover some or all of the cost. Check with Medicare or your health plan to find out if it is covered.

    You should not get vaccinated if you:

    • Currently have shingles
    • Are sick or have a fever
    • Had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of the shingles vaccine

    If you are unsure about the above criteria or have other health concerns, talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine.

    Who Should Get The Shingrix Vaccine

    The Shringrix vaccine is recommended in healthy adults age 50 and older. There is no maximum age. You should get the vaccine even if:

    • Youve had shingles.
    • Youre not sure if youd had chickenpox .
    • Youve already had the Zostavax vaccine. This vaccine for shingles is no longer available in the U.S. Ask your healthcare provider about the best time to get the Shingrix vaccine.

    If you currently have shingles, you need to wait until the shingles rash has gone away. Talk with your provider about the proper time to begin vaccination with Shingrix.

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    Lasting Pain After Shingles

    Pain that continues for a long time after a shingles rash has disappeared is called post-herpetic neuralgia. This is the most common complication of shingles. Its still not clear how it can be prevented or what the best treatment is.

    Shingles typically causes a rash accompanied by pain in the affected area. The pain normally goes away when the rash goes away. This usually happens after two to four weeks. Pain that continues for longer is referred to as post-herpetic neuralgia. The word “post-herpetic” means “post-herpes” because the pain arises after infection by the herpes zoster virus. In very rare cases pain can come back after a shingles infection, even if it had already gone away and the rash has disappeared.

    The main symptom of post-herpetic neuralgia is pain in the nerves . The skin is often overly sensitive and itchy as well. This can make it difficult or painful to wash yourself, turn over in bed, or hug someone. The pain and itching can be very severe and might keep you from sleeping.

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