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How Long Does It Take To Cure Shingles

What Causes Shingles In Your Mouth

How to treat shingles

Shingles can affect the skin and mucosa, or tissues that line your body. This includes the inside of your mouth.

The cause of oral shingles is the same as shingles in general. The disease develops when your immune system becomes weakened. A compromised immune system is unable to control the virus, allowing it to multiply and cause shingles.

Several things can weaken your immune system and activate shingles, such as:

  • emotional stress

Visit a doctor if you develop mouth lesions or mouth pain of any kind. You should also see a doctor if you have mouth lesions and:

  • severe tooth or mouth pain
  • unusual sensations, like tingling, burning, or prickling
  • the mouth lesions are oozing or bleeding

If your doctor thinks you have oral shingles, theyll use several tests to make a diagnosis. This may include:

  • Physical examination. Your doctor will check the lesions in your mouth for redness, blistering, and crusting. Theyll also examine your skin for other signs of shingles.
  • Medical history. To determine your risk of developing shingles, your doctor will ask questions about your health. Theyll also want to know if youve had chickenpox before.
  • Swab test. Your doctor may swab the blisters in your mouth. The swab will be sent to a laboratory, where technicians will analyze it for the varicella-zoster virus.
  • Blood tests. A blood test is used to check your blood for signs of infection. This includes antibodies, which your body creates in response to shingles.

How Well Does Shingrix Work

Two doses of Shingrix provide strong protection against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia , the most common complication of shingles.

  • In adults 50 to 69 years old with healthy immune systems, Shingrix was 97% effective in preventing shingles in adults 70 years and older, Shingrix was 91% effective.
  • In adults 50 years and older, Shingrix was 91% effective in preventing PHN in adults 70 years and older, Shingrix was 89% effective.
  • In adults with weakened immune systems, Shingrix was between 68% and 91% effective in preventing shingles, depending on their underlying immunocompromising condition.

In people 70 years and older who had healthy immune systems, Shingrix immunity remained high throughout 7 years following vaccination.

Who Is At Risk Of Getting Shingles

Shingles typically affects older people, but it can also occur in healthy younger persons and even in children. Those whose immune systems have been weakened by cancer, HIV infection, AIDS, or treatment with certain medicines are also at increased risk of getting shingles.

  • Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk of getting shingles later in life. About 1 in 3 people who have not been immunised against chickenpox or shingles will get shingles in their lifetime.
  • Shingles usually affects older people. The older you are if you get shingles, the higher your risk of getting serious disease. People who have a weakened immune system are also at risk of getting more severe disease, even if they are young.
  • Women have a higher risk of getting shingles than men.
  • Most people who develop shingles have only 1 episode during their lifetime. However, you can have shingles more than once.

An attack of shingles during pregnancy will not harm the unborn baby. The mother is already carrying the varicella zoster virus before developing shingles and there is no increase in the risk of passing it on to the fetus if shingles develops. However, an attack of chickenpox during pregnancy can be serious and requires urgent medical attention.

Recommended Reading: Does The Shingles Vaccine Work

If My Shingles Rash Is Mild Or Has Mostly Healed Do I Need To See A Doctor

Its a good idea to see a doctor whenever you have a case of shingles, no matter how mild.

Prompt antiviral treatment not only decreases the duration and severity of the rash but can also decrease the chance of developing post-herpetic neuralgia. Post-herpetic neuralgia is a complication of shingles characterized by long-term, debilitating pain.

If your rash has mostly healed, its still a good idea to see a doctor so they can monitor the rash for changes or complications, such as a bacterial skin infection that forms on top of your existing rash. This is known as a superimposed infection.

What Are The Symptoms

How is Shingles Transmitted, How long is it Contagious &  How Long Does ...

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.

Recommended Reading: What Does Shingles Look Like At Start

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.

Will Shingles Go Away Without Treatment

Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a painful rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus . This is the same virus that causes chickenpox.

This virus remains dormant in a part of your nervous system called the dorsal root ganglion. It can be reactivated during times of stress or illness, or when the immune system is weakened by an autoimmune disease or cancer.

The risk of developing shingles is relatively low for healthy young adults about 4 out of 1,000 people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Its much higher for those above age 60. Shingles affects about 1 out of 100 people in this older age group, the CDC says.

Generally, a case of shingles rash resolves within 3 to 4 weeks. It can resolve without treatment, but antiviral treatment can shorten both the duration and severity of the rash.

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What Can I Take To Feel Better

Your doctor has a host of ways to treat your pain after shingles, including a variety of medications. They include:

Anticonvulsants: These medications were developed to control seizures, but they can also help reduce the pain of postherpetic neuralgia. Examples are:

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about side effects of any new prescription or over-the-counter medication.

Who Is At Risk Of Getting Postherpetic Neuralgia

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Factors that increase the risk of developing postherpetic neuralgia include:

  • Older age: The chance of developing postherpetic neuralgia increases with age. If youre older and develop shingles, youre more likely to develop PHN and have longer lasting and more severe pain than a younger person with shingles. About 10 to 13% of people over age 50 who have had shingles will get PHN. People under age 40 rarely get PHN.
  • Weakened immune system: Your immune system weakens as you get older, which allows the inactive varicella-zoster virus to become active again and cause shingles in some people. Medical conditions that can weaken your immune system include cancer, chronic infectious diseases , being an organ transplant recipient or taking medications that weaken your immune system .
  • Severity of your shingles: If you have a severe rash, you have a greater chance of PHN.
  • Painful, itchy or tingly feeling before shingles rash: If you had these symptoms in an area of skin a few days before your shingles rash broke out, you are at higher risk of PHN.
  • Waiting to see your healthcare provider after shingles rash: If you wait longer than three days after your rash appeared missing the window to receive antiviral drugs you have an increased chance of PHN.

Read Also: Is The Shingles Shot Free For Seniors

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.

What Is The Outcome For Someone Who Has Shingles

Most people get shingles once, but its possible to get it again.

If you have a healthy immune system, the blisters tend to clear in 7 to 10 days. The rash tends to go away completely within 2 to 4 weeks. The pain may last longer, but usually stops in 1 or 2 months.

For some people, the pain will last longer than the rash. When it does, its called postherpetic neuralgia , which can come and go or be constant. PHN can last for months, years, or the rest of your life. Treatment can help reduce the amount of pain you feel.

Be sure to tell your doctor if you continue to have pain. Treatment can help you feel more comfortable.

For anyone who has a shingles rash, the right self-care can help ease your discomfort. Youll find out what dermatologists recommend at, Shingles: Self-care.

ImageGetty Images

ReferencesCenters for Disease Control and Prevention . About shingles. Page last reviewed 10/17/2017. Last accessed 4/1/2019.

Dooling KL, Guo A, et al. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for Use of Herpes Zoster Vaccines. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018 67:103-8.

Madkan V, Sra K, et al. Human herpes viruses. In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. . Mosby Elsevier, Spain, 2008: 1204-8.

Straus SE, Oxman MN. Varicella and herpes zoster. In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, et al. Fitzpatricks Dermatology in General Medicine . McGraw Hill Medical, New York, 2008: 1885-98.

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Why Does Postherpetic Neuralgia Happen

Postherpetic neuralgia starts out with a very familiar illness: chickenpox. The virus that causes it is called varicella-zoster. Once chickenpox has run its course, the virus âhides outâ in your nervous system.

Doctors arenât sure exactly why, but sometimes the virus reactivates decades later and travels along pathways to your skin. A painful, blistering rash can erupt. Thatâs shingles.

In some cases, shingles can damage your nerves so that they canât send messages from your skin to your brain as they usually do. That scramble of signals can trigger the ongoing pain of neuralgia.

If the pain lasts more than a year, it can become permanent.

Can Shingles Be Prevented Or Avoided

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The best way to prevent shingles is through vaccination. Vaccinate your children for chickenpox. This vaccine reduces their risk for getting chickenpox. You cant get shingles unless youve had chickenpox first.

When you are older, get the shingles vaccine. It is recommended for adults 50 years of age and older. It can prevent shingles. People who have had shingles should get the vaccine to help stop the disease from reoccurring. Common side effects of the vaccine are headache, plus redness, swelling, itching, and soreness at the injection site.

The shingles vaccine is not recommended for anyone who:

  • Has had an allergic reaction to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin
  • Has an allergy to any component of the shingles vaccine
  • Has a weakened immune system due to conditions such as leukemia, HIV, or AIDS
  • Is receiving treatment for cancer
  • Is being treated with drugs that suppress their immune system, including high-dose steroids
  • Is pregnant or might become pregnant within 4 weeks of getting the vaccine

Recommended Reading: What Are The First Signs Of Having Shingles

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?

Prevent Shingles Or Another Shingles Outbreak:

  • A vaccine may be given to help prevent shingles. You can get the vaccine even if you already had shingles. The vaccine comes in 2 forms. A 2-dose vaccine is usually given to adults 50 years or older. A 1-dose vaccine may be given to adults 60 years or older.
  • The vaccine can help prevent a future outbreak. If you do get shingles again, the vaccine can keep it from becoming severe. Ask your healthcare provider about other vaccines you may need.

Read Also: What Do Shingles Blisters Look Like

How Long Does It Take For Someone To Recover From Shingles

  • How Long Does It Take for Someone to Recover From Shingles? Center
  • Shingles or herpes zoster is a viral infection that is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles is characterized by painful rash, small blisters, burning and tingling on the affected skin. While it can affect any part of the body, it usually affects one side.

    Typically, it takes about 2-5 weeks for someone to recover from shingles, although some cases may take longer.

    Stay Away From Certain Groups Of People If You Have Shingles

    Shingles: What You Should Know | Johns Hopkins Medicine

    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

    Also Check: Why Is The Shingles Vaccine So Expensive

    Key Points About Shingles

    • Shingles is a common viral infection of the nerves. It causes a painful rash or small blisters on an area of skin.
    • Shingles is caused when the chickenpox virus is reactivated.
    • It is more common in people with weakened immune systems, and in people over the age of 50.
    • Shingles starts with skin sensitivity, tingling, itching, and/or pain followed by rash that looks like small, red spots that turn into blisters.
    • The rash is typically affects just one area on one side of the body or face.
    • Treatment that is started as soon as possible helps reduce the severity of the disease.

    Is A Vaccine Available To Prevent Shingles

    Two vaccines are available in the United States to reduce your chance of developing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. One vaccine, Zostavax®, has been available since 2006. The second vaccine, Shingrix®, has been available since 2017. Shingrix is recommended as the preferred vaccine by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of medical and public health experts.

    Shingrix is given as a two-dose shot in your upper arm. You should receive the second dose two to six months after receiving the first. Shingrix has been shown to be more than 90% effective in preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. Its effectiveness remains above 85% for at least four years after receiving the vaccine.

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    Can You Spread Shingles Over Your Own Body

    Shingles cannot be spread over different areas of your body. For example, if you have an active shingles rash on your back, the fluid from the blisters cannot cause a new rash on your arm.

    However, the fluid could potentially spread VZV to someone else if theyve never had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine.

    One caveat here is that some people can develop disseminated herpes zoster, which is when the shingles virus causes a rash over multiple areas of the body. This can happen in people who have weakened immune systems from autoimmune disease, cancer, or immunosuppressant medications.

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