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How Long Does It Take To Get Rid Of Shingles

Common Symptom Of Shingles

How to treat shingles

The most common symptom of shingles is red, itchy, and painful rashes, which are smallpox marks that often occur on the buttocks, lower back, neck, cheeks, trunk, or face. It can also spread to anywhere on your body.

The rashes come in patches, and this makes the rashes highly noticeable. When the rashes develop into blisters filled with fluid, you may feel extremely itchy and painful. The rashes may disappear completely within 5-6 weeks. Other common symptoms include fatigue, body pain, fever, headaches, dizziness, and sensitivity to light.

What Causes Shingles In Your Mouth

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.

Get Shingles Treatment Online

Speak to a board-certified doctor securely from your phone or computer and get medication for shingles in 15 minutes. Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Although shingles can appear anywhere on the body, it most often is a single stripe of blisters that wraps around the left or right side of your torso. With our same-day treatment service, you can meet with a top online doctor, get diagnosed, and receive the medication you need.

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Antiviral Medicines For Shingles

Antiviral medicines used to treat shingles include aciclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir. An antiviral medicine is not a cure for shingles, it does not kill the virus but works by stopping the virus from multiplying. So, it may limit the severity of symptoms of the shingles episode.

An antiviral medicine is most useful when started in the early stages of shingles . However, in some cases your doctor may still advise you have an antiviral medicine even if the rash is more than 72 hours old – particularly in elderly people with severe shingles, or if shingles affects an eye.

Antiviral medicines are not advised routinely for everybody with shingles. As a general rule, the following groups of people who develop shingles will normally be advised to take an antiviral medicine:

  • If you are over the age of 50. The older you are, the more risk there is of severe shingles or complications developing and the more likely you are to benefit from treatment.
  • If you are of any age and have any of the following:
  • Shingles that affects the eye or ear.
  • A poorly functioning immune system .
  • Shingles that affects any parts of the body apart from the trunk .
  • Moderate or severe pain.

If prescribed, a course of an antiviral medicine normally lasts seven days.

Can Eye Shingles Cause Blindness

Herpes

Even with proper treatment, some eye shingles patients still develop eye disorders such as corneal scarring, glaucoma or retinal disease.

For example, eye shingles can cause:

  • A corneal dendrite which may lead to a scar

In the most severe cases of eye shingles, a patient may need a corneal transplant.

Eye shingles is not contagious. It cannot be spread to another person.

However, a person who has shingles-related rash anywhere on their body can transmit chickenpox virus to someone who hasn’t already had chickenpox or been vaccinated for the condition.

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Should I See A Doctor For Shingles

It is usually worth seeing a doctor to be certain about the diagnosis and to see if you need treatment or not. Ideally you should see a doctor as soon as possible after the rash appears.

The rash of shingles can be very painful. So even if the doctor doesn’t think you need an anti-shingles medicine, they may be able to give you stronger painkillers than those you can buy over the counter from the chemist.

What Shingles Treatments Are Available

Treatment for shingles may include antiviral medications, such as acyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir, which reduce the shingles rashs duration, decreasing the rashs severity, and lowers the risk of developing long-lasting nerve pain and other subsequent health problems. To treat pain-related symptoms from shingles, our dermatologist may also recommend that you take over-the-counter medications, including acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If you have severe pain, a corticosteroid, or another medication type that reduces inflammation, may be prescribed. To prevent shingles before it occurs, be sure to get the shingles vaccine.

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How To Prevent Transmission

You cant catch shingles, and you cant give shingles to someone else. But you can give others chickenpox.

After you have chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus stays dormant in your body. If this virus reactivates, shingles occurs. Its possible to transmit this virus to others who arent immune while the shingles rash is still active. You are contagious to others until all areas of the rash are dried up and crusted over.

To catch the varicella-zoster virus from you, a person has to have direct contact with your rash blisters.

You can help prevent your transmission of the varicella-zoster virus by:

  • keeping the rash loosely covered
  • practicing frequent handwashing
  • avoiding contact with people who may not have had chickenpox or who havent been vaccinated against chickenpox

Last medically reviewed on August 24, 2017

10 sourcescollapsed

  • Cohen KR, et al. . Presentation and management of herpes zoster in the geriatric population.

What You Can Do To Help Recover From Shingles

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

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.

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How Common Is Shingles

Currently, around 2030% of people experience shingles at some point in their life.

The U.S. introduced a chickenpox vaccine in 1995, and the number of chickenpox cases has dropped by around 7685% since then. This means that, over time, the number of people with the VZV in their system is likely to decrease.

Shingles may become less prevalent as children who received the chickenpox vaccine grow into adulthood.

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.

  • First, a few days before the rash appears, you may feel pain in an area on your skin. The pain is described as itching, burning, stabbing or shooting. This usually happens before the rash comes.
  • Next, the raised rash appears as a band or a patch, usually on one side of your body. The rash usually appears around your waistline or on one side of your face, neck, or on the trunk , but not always. It can occur in other areas including your arms and legs.
  • Within three to four days, the rash develops into red, fluid-filled, painful, open blisters.
  • Usually, these blisters begin to dry out and crust over within about 10 days.
  • The scabs clear up about two to three weeks later.
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    Are There Other Ways To Ease The Pain

    Most people with postherpetic neuralgia use medication to control their symptoms. But there are other ways to control the pain, too. They include:

    TENS : You use a device that shoots tiny electrical currents into the area of pain on the skin. This helps block the pain.

    Cold packs: Try a gel-filled one to numb the area unless cooler objects make your neuralgia worse.

    Comfortable clothes: Go for looser fits and fabrics such as cotton and silk.

    When Should I See My Doctor

    Herpes

    See your doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing any symptoms of shingles. Starting treatment with antiviral medicines within 3 days of the rash appearing should reduce the severity of symptoms and the risk of further complications, including post-herpetic neuralgia.

    See your doctor straight away if you have symptoms of shingles and are experiencing the following:

    • symptoms that affect your eye area
    • a temperature of 38°C or higher

    You should also see your doctor if you are pregnant, or have a weakened immune system due to medicine that suppresses the immune system, or a condition that weakens your immune system.

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    Are There Treatments I Can Put On My Skin

    You might find relief with topical treatments. You can talk to your doctor about:

    Creams: Some of these contain capsaicin, the ingredient in cayenne pepper that gives it a kick. Examples are Capsin and Zostrix. You can buy this over the counter but make sure your doctor knows if you plan on using these.

    Patches: Capsaicin is also in Qutenza, which is applied via a patch for one hour every 3 months. You need to visit the doctorâs office for this.

    Lidoderm is a patch that has a numbing agent called lidocaine. Itâs applied directly to the painful area of skin. You need a prescription.

    How Is Postherpetic Neuralgia Treated

    Treatments include lotions or creams and/or other medications not specifically used for pain, such as antidepressants or drugs for epilepsy. Regular pain relievers are not usually effective for this type of pain.

    If your pain doesnt lessen, you might try therapies like nerve blocks or steroid injections near the area where the nerves exit the spine. Your provider might suggest an implantable nerve stimulator device for severe, ongoing pain that hasnt responded to other treatments.

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    Who Gets Postherpetic Neuralgia

    About 1 out of 5 people who have shingles will have these sharp, ongoing pains afterward. Certain things can increase your chances of getting it:

    • Age: Most people who get postherpetic neuralgia are older than 60.
    • Gender: Women seem to get it more than men.
    • Early symptoms: People who have numbness, tingling, or itching before a shingles rash even appears tend to get the lingering pain later.
    • Pain at the start: If you had severe pain or a rash during the beginning of your outbreak, you have a greater chance of the neuralgia later.
    • Other health problems: People with ongoing conditions that can weaken the immune system, like HIV and cancer, seem more likely to get it.

    The Stages Of Shingles Recovery

    Shingles: What You Should Know | Johns Hopkins Medicine

    After the rash develops, which usually appears on only one side of the body, it forms blisters. You may feel like you have the flu or a mild fever. As you recover, you will typically go through these stages:

    • Blisters begin to burst or weep about 5 days after they develop, and lasts from 7 to 10 days. You should take time off from work and other activities during this period, because you can spread the virus to others through the fluid in the blisters. Otherwise, you can return to work when you feel comfortable doing so.
    • The blisters will scab over and begin to heal, which takes from 1 to 3 weeks, unless the rash is on your scalp in which case it can take several months.
    • As they heal, the blisters become smaller and less painful, generally over a period of 3 to 5 weeks.
    • About 10 to 15% of people with shingles will develop chronic nerve pain, which can be severe. Sensitivity to touch at the site of the rash is possible. The older you are, the more likely it is you will develop this disorder, called post-herpetic neuralgia, or PHN. The pain often lessens over time. Available treatments include anti-inflammatory injections, nerve blocks, certain tricyclic antidepressants, or capsaicin cream, which is made from chili peppers and can help ease nerve pain.

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    How Long Will The Effects Last

    The rash from shingles will heal in 1 to 3 weeks and the pain or irritation will usually go away in 3 to 5 weeks. When shingles occurs on the head or scalp, the symptoms usually go away eventually, but it may take many months.

    If the virus damages a nerve, you may have pain, numbness, or tingling for months or even years after the rash is healed. This is called postherpetic neuralgia. This chronic condition is most likely to occur after a shingles outbreak in people over 50 years old. Taking antiviral medicine as soon as the shingles is diagnosed may help prevent this problem.

    What Causes Shingles

    Anyone who has had chickenpox in the past can develop shingles. The chickenpox virus stays in the nerve cells near the spine but is not active. Shingles occurs when the virus becomes active again.

    Shingles can occur at any age, but it usually affects people over 40. About 1 in 3 people who have not been immunised against chicken pox or shingles will develop shingles at some stage during their lifetime. Shingles often occurs with no known trigger. It is more likely to occur if you:

    • are aged 60 or older
    • are experiencing physical and emotional stress
    • have HIV and AIDS
    • have had an organ transplant
    • have recently had a bone marrow transplant
    • have a condition which requires treatment that affects the immune system, such as chemotherapy for cancer

    Usually, people only get shingles once in their lives. But sometimes, especially if you have a weakened immune system, you might get repeated infections. You cannot catch shingles from someone who has the condition. If you have not had chickenpox, you can catch chickenpox by coming into direct contact with fluid on the blisters of someone who has shingles.

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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 Some Common Treatments For Shingles

    Herpes

    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.

    Read Also: How To Tell If You Have Shingles

    Why Does Shingles Appear Mostly On One Side Or In One Area Of Your Body

    The virus travels in specific nerves, so you will often see shingles occur in a band on one side of your body. This band corresponds to the area where the nerve transmits signals. The shingles rash stays somewhat localized to an area. It doesnt spread over your whole body. Your torso is a common area, as is your face.

    How Is Shingles Diagnosed

    Your healthcare provider will do a complete physical exam and ask about your medical history, specifically about whether you have ever had chickenpox.

    Your healthcare provider will likely know right away that it is shingles based on the unique rash. The rash usually appears one area on one side of the body or face. It appears as red spots, small fluid- or pus-filled vesicles, or scabs.

    The healthcare provider may also take skin scrapings for testing.

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    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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