Is That Rash By My Eye Really Shingles
Shingles tends to show up most frequently on the torso, just because of the laws of probability, notes Joseph Safdieh, MD, a professor of neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. In that area of your body, there are 24 nerves that can host the virus, compared with the 10 in your lower back.
Often, its not what the rash looks like, but what it feels like before and after it shows up, that signals the condition. Up to several days before the shingles rash appears, pain, itching, or tingling often occurs in the area where it will develop.
In the days before the rash appears, a variety of other flu-like symptoms of shingles can occur. You may experience:
You may even experience the pain but not the rash. Because the pain of shingles originates in the nerves, it may have a different quality than any other pain you have experienced before.
Neuropathic pain is burning, says Dr. Safdieh. Its both numb and painful at the same time, and can be provoked by touching the skin. Your skin may be so sensitive that even sunlight can bring on a stabbing sensation.
Even if you arent sure you have shingles, you should still see a doctor right away, because immediate treatment can prevent complications like long-term nerve pain.
What Are The Risk Factors For Recurring Shingles
People dont know what causes recurring shingles, but certain factors increase your chances of getting shingles again.
People with weakened immune systems are more likely to get shingles again. One study determined that the rate of shingles recurrence was among people with compromised immune systems. This is about 2.4 times higher than for those who didnt have compromised immune systems.
You may have a compromised immune system if you:
- are getting chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- have organ transplants
- are taking high doses of corticosteroids like prednisone
Additional risk factors include:
- longer-lasting and more severe pain with the first case of shingles
- pain for 30 days or more with the first case of shingles
- being over the age of 50
Having one or more blood relatives with shingles may also increase your risk of getting shingles.
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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How Is Shingles Treated
There is no cure for shingles but there are treatments for managing the symptoms. Antiviral medications may ease the discomfort and reduce the duration of the symptoms, particularly if started within 72 hours of the first sign of shingles. Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can be effective in relieving mild pain. Antibacterial agents can be given to treat bacterial infections of the shingles rash .
Do You Need To Stay Away From Children People Who Are Pregnant Have Cancer Or Anyone With A Weak Immune System After You Get The Zostavax Vaccine
According to the CDC, its safe to be around babies and young children, pregnant women or anyone with a weakened immune system after you get the Zostavax vaccine. Even though the Zostavax vaccine contains a weakened live varicella-zoster virus, the CDC says theres no documented case of a person getting chickenpox from someone who has received the Zostavax vaccine. And remember: You cant get shingles unless youve already had chickenpox.
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Key Points To Remember
- Shingles can be very painful.
- Adults ages 50 and older and adults 19 and older who have a weakened immune system can get the vaccine. You need two doses, whether or not you’ve had shingles before.
- The vaccine greatly lowers your chances of getting shingles. If you get shingles anyway, you are less likely to have the long-term pain that can occur after shingles than if you hadn’t had the vaccine.
- If you’ve already had shingles, you are not likely to get it again. But some people do.
What is shingles?
Shingles is an infection that occurs when the virus that causes chickenpox starts up again in your body. Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles, but it is most common in older adults.
Shingles usually causes a rash that can be very painful. The rash is usually on your back or chest and lasts from 2 to 4 weeks. For some people, the severe pain continues long after the rash clears up.
Shingles can be very hard on older people. The pain can affect their quality of life. For some, the pain lasts for a year or longer.
What are your chances of getting shingles?
Only people who have had chickenpox can get shingles.
Out of 100 people, about 30 may get shingles sometime in their lives.2 And the risk is higher for people age 50 and older. Older people are also more likely to have severe pain with shingles.
Most people who get shingles will not get it again. But some people get shingles more than once.
How well does the vaccine work?
Side effects include:
What Is The Best Way To Prevent Shingles
Your best chance at preventing shingles is to get vaccinated. There is one vaccine, Shingrix, which is very effective in preventing shingles and complications, including postherpetic neuralgia.
- Shingrix is a recommended vaccine for all adults age 50 years and older whether or not they have had shingles or previously received varicella vaccine. The vaccine is a series of two doses. The administration of the second dose is given 2 to 6 months after the first dose.
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Know The Bathing Dos And Donts
Using the right water temperature while bathing or showering can make a big difference in how your skin feels and heals. Ideally, you should bathe with cool or lukewarm water and avoid very hot water.
You can also apply a cool, wet compress to the rash and blisters. The AAD recommends you soak a clean washcloth in cold water and place the cloth on top of the affected area several times a day. Leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes.
You should avoid rubbing washcloths, sponges, or exfoliants on the area.
You can also add colloidal oatmeal or cornstarch to your baths to provide some much-needed itch relief. Just be sure to dry your skin gently after getting out of the bath. Then, follow up with a layer of calamine lotion to soothe your skin, or keep it dry and cover with a bandage if its still weeping.
What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Shingrix
Studies show that Shingrix is safe. The vaccine helps your body create a strong defense against shingles. As a result, you are likely to have temporary side effects from getting the shots. The side effects might affect your ability to do normal daily activities for 2 to 3 days.
Most people got a sore arm with mild or moderate pain after getting Shingrix, and some also had redness and swelling where they got the shot. Some people felt tired, had muscle pain, a headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, or nausea. Some people who got Shingrix experienced side effects that prevented them from doing regular activities. Symptoms went away on their own in about 2 to 3 days. Side effects were more common in younger people.
You might have a reaction to the first or second dose of Shingrix, or both doses. If you experience side effects, you may choose to take over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Guillain-Barré syndrome , a serious nervous system disorder, has been reported very rarely after Shingrix. There is also a very small increased risk of GBS after having shingles.
If you experience side effects from Shingrix, you should report them to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System . Your doctor might file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS websiteexternal icon, or by calling 1-800-822-7967.
If you have any questions about side effects from Shingrix, talk with your doctor.
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Can You Get Chickenpox If Youve Been Vaccinated
Yes. About 15% 20% of people who have received one dose of varicella vaccine do still get chickenpox if they are exposed, but their disease is usually mild. Vaccinated persons who get chickenpox generally have fewer than 50 spots or bumps, which may resemble bug bites more than typical, fluid-filled chickenpox blisters. In 2006, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend routine two-dose varicella vaccination for children. In one study, children who received two doses of varicella vaccine were three times less likely to get chickenpox than individuals who have had only one dose.
Does The Vaccine Help Prevent It
The CDC suggests getting the shingles vaccine Shingrix if you’re a healthy adult ages 50 or older, or if you are19 years of age and older and are or will be immunodeficient or immunosuppressed due to disease or therapy.. It was approved in 2017 and has been found to be more than 90% effective in preventing shingles and the complications caused by the disease. Even if you’ve already had shingles, the CDC says the vaccine can help prevent a second round of it. Shingrix is preferred over an earlier vaccine, Zostavax, which was removed from the market in 2020. You should also get it if you previously had the Zostavax vaccine.
Shingrix is also approved for those 18 years or older who may be immunodeficient or immunosuppressedbecause of an illness or treatment.
Talk to your doctor about when to get the vaccine. If you’ve just gotten over shingles, the CDC recommends waiting at least until the shingles rash has disappeared.
You should not get the Shingrix vaccine if you:
- Are pregnant or nursing
- Are allergic to the vaccine
- You tested negative for immunity to chickenpox if so, you should ask about the chickenpox vaccine.
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How Can I Protect Myself Against Shingles
Since the virus is already inside your body, it may seem like little can be done to protect yourself from developing shingles, but there is something you can do. The CDC recommends adults over age 60 get a shingles vaccine.
The vaccine is designed to boost your immune system, reducing the likelihood of developing shingles. And if you do develop the disease, having had the vaccine can shorten its duration and make the symptoms less severe. If you have not had the chickenpox, you should not get the shingles vaccine but instead get the chickenpox vaccine.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Shingles
The varicella-zoster virus the virus that causes chicken pox and shingles is part of a group of viruses called herpes viruses. This group also includes the viruses that cause cold sores and genital herpes.
If youve had chicken pox, you can get shingles. After the chicken pox is over, varicella-zoster lies inactive, mainly in spinal or cranial nerves. Sometimes the virus reactivates, and thats when it travels along the nerves to erupt as a rash on your skin, causing shingles.
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How To Pay For Shingrix
Commercial insurance covers about 96% of insured people for the Shingrix vaccine. Most people with private insurance will pay under $5 for each dose.
Programs like Medicaid cover Shingrix in certain states. Medicare Parts A and B do not cover the shingles vaccine. But individuals covered under Medicare prescription drug plans, or Part D, will have their vaccines covered.
For people who do not have access to insurance, there are a number of vaccine assistance programs and affordable health coverage options available. Many of these programs provide vaccines at little or no cost.
If You Get The Shingles Vaccine Does This Mean Youre 100% Protected From Getting Shingles
No. Just like most vaccines, getting vaccinated with a shingles vaccine 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, a painful condition that can follow a shingles outbreak.
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Can You Get Shingles More Than Once
Although possible, its rare to experience shingles more than once. In a 2019 study , researchers found the reoccurrence rate of shingles was 5.3 percent over an average of a 4.4-year follow-up period.
The researchers found that experiencing shingles that lasted more than 30 days significantly increased the risk of reoccurrence. Other risk factors were:
- being 51 to 70 years old
- having shingles lasting longer than 90 days
- having a blood cancer, an autoimmune disease, high blood pressure, or dyslipidemia
Why Vaccinated People Still Get Sick With The Covid
With so many health experts, public officials, and organizations pushing for COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters, you may be wondering why vaccinated individuals are still getting sick with COVID-19.
The answer takes some explanation, with the help of Dan Diekema, MD, MS, hospital epidemiologist, and infectious disease specialist.
Its also a good time to remind ourselves that we must recommit ourselves to follow safety standards at work and in our community: Be aware and committed to mask wearing, social distancing, and avoiding gatherings.
The purpose of vaccinations
First, we must understand the purpose behind vaccinations. In general, vaccinations of any kind are intended to lessen the likelihood that an individual contracts a certain illness. But the most important goal of a vaccine, and what is essential to know about the COVID-19 vaccine, is that it reduces the severity of the illness within an individual if they do get sick.
COVID-19 vaccine boosters
Initial reports show that receiving only one or two doses of an mRNA vaccine, like the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, does not reduce the likelihood of infection against omicron as much as it does against previous variants. However, receiving a booster greatly helps both prevent the likelihood of infection with the omicron variant and reduces the severity of illness if you do get sick.
Omicron is highly contagious
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Is Shingles Contagious
You cannot catch shingles from someone who has a rash if you have had the chickenpox. However, if you have an active shingles rash, you can pass the virus on to someone who has not had the chickenpox. The virus is spread through direct contact with the rash, not through the air, and once the rash has scabbed over, it is no longer contagious. If you develop shingles, keep the rash covered to reduce chances of transmission.
How Is It Treated
It is best to start treatment as soon as possible after you notice the rash. See your healthcare provider to discuss treatment with antiviral medicine, such as acyclovir. This medicine is most effective if you start taking it within the first 3 days of the rash. Antiviral medicine may speed your recovery and lessen the chance that the pain will last for a long time.
Your provider may also recommend or prescribe:
- medicine for pain
- antibacterial salves or lotions to help prevent bacterial infection of the blisters
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Who Is Prone To Get Shingles
There is a certain demographic that is more prone to developing shingles. Read on to know if you or a loved one fall into the at-risk categories. If you have ever had chicken pox in your life or have otherwise been exposed to the virus, then you are at risk of getting shingles. However, people who are 60 and older are more likely to experience shingles along with those who are immune compromised. Approximately 50% of shingles cases are in people who are over 60 years old. Indeed, extra caution is advised for those in that demographic as weakening of the immune systems can allow the virus to awaken in your body.
Complications of Shingles
Shingles can be extremely debilitating. In more severe cases, shingles can spread to your eyes and lead to permanent eye damage or even blindness. In about 20% of cases, shingles can also lead to Postherpetic Neuralgia , which causes severe burning pain for up to months after your shingles rash has healed. You are more at risk for developing PN if:
- You are over 50
- You waited too long to see your doctor and receive treatment
- Your case of Shingles was severe
- You have a chronic disease, such as diabetes, HIV, or cancer
- You are a woman
- Symptoms of pain or itching showed up long before your rash
The Most Important Tip For Shingles
I know that this is a lot of information so give yourself time to take it all in. Perhaps, more importantly take this one piece of advice: RELAX. Shingles is usually brought on by stress in your life. While I didnt think I had a lot of stress , when I listed everything on my plate its easy to see how my body was overburdened.
The biggest lesson learned through this process is how important it is to really, truly support your body. People often mentioned how lucky I was to be able to have a job that works from home, but when youre sick its easy to just reach for your phone in bed or work on a project while recovering on the couch. The boundaries are less clear. Though I did the bare minimum I needed to do, I mostly took a lot of time to rest, nap, journal, watch TV and essentially do nothing.
I would have loved to have gone on walks or been outside but the pain of the wind on my face made it impossible. I was upset over this but C reminded me that compassion is a big part of the recovery process. So even though I felt stir crazy, I also knew that going outside actually created more stress in my life. Acknowledging those stressors and putting in plans of action to eliminate or diffuse them is the key to getting over shingles.
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Overall I can tell Im drastically improved from where I was and also have learned one of lifes most important lessons: STRESS IS REAL and it can manifest physically, so dont ignore it!
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