What Specialists Treat Shingles
Primary care physicians, including internal medicine specialists, family medicine specialists and/or specialists in infectious diseases, can appropriately treat some patients. An emergency medicine physician may start the initial care. However, if there is a chance the eye may be involved, an ophthalmologist should be consulted. If a person is pregnant and gets shingles, they should consult with their ob-gyn physician immediately. For long-term or chronic pain involved in postherpetic neuralgia, a neurologist and/or pain specialists may be involved in the care of the patient.
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How Do You Treat Shingles In The Eye
Shingles respond well to antiviral medication, such as acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir. These medications stop the virus from spreading, help the rash clear more quickly, heal shingles blisters, and control nerve pain from the rash.
For the best results, start the antiviral medication within three days after you notice your symptoms. When treated early, most people recover fully from shingles. During this time, you can also take over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .
If the rash spreads to your eye, your doctor may give you additional shingles treatments. They may prescribe a steroid medication in the form of eye drops or pills. Treating shingles in your eye requires more careful treatment, as it can cause more severe problems that affect your daily life if neglected.
If you develop postherpetic neuralgia, pain medications or antidepressants prescribed by your doctor can help.
When it comes to home remedies, you may find that a cool bath or shower can help soothe the nerve pain associated with shingles. Additionally, although not everyone experiences itching with shingles the way they do with chickenpox, calamine lotion can help those who do.
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Dont Shrug Off Shingles
- By Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Mens Health Watch
ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
If you had chickenpox as a kid, there is a good chance you may develop shingles later in life. In fact, one in three is predicted to get shingles during their lifetime, says Dr. Anne Louise Oaklander, director of the Nerve Unit at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
The same varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox also causes shingles. After the telltale spots of chickenpox vanish, the virus lies dormant in your nerve cells near the spinal cord and brain. When your immunity weakens from normal aging or from illnesses or medications, the virus can re-emerge. It then travels along a nerve to trigger a rash in the skin connected to that nerve. The rash often appears on only one side of your body. The most common locations are the chest, back, or stomach, or above one eye.
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How To Recover From Shingles Quickly
With shingles, a painful viral disease of the skin, comes a lot of confusion and anxiety. Many people assume that its an inevitable part of getting older, but this couldnt be further from the truth. In this article, well outline what shingles is, tell you how to prevent them, and provide tips on how to deal with them if they do occur.
What Are Shingles Symptoms
Before we talk about the vaccine, let’s look at the virus. The hallmark of shingles is a blistering rash in a single stripe, but often pain and itching is felt on the skin days before the rash actually appears. Other symptoms may include fever, chills, headache, and upset stomach. Shingles can cause severe pain for days, weeks, or even months, says Dr. Weisenberg. It can be especially serious if it affects an area such as the eye, potentially leading to blindness. Preventing an outbreak with the vaccine is a smart move, he adds.
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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.
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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Can You Get Shingles If You Havent Had Chickenpox
No. You cant get shingles if youve never had chickenpox, but you can get chickenpox from someone who has shingles. If youve never had chickenpox and you come into direct contact with the oozing, blister-like rash of someone with shingles, the varicella-zoster virus can infect you and you would develop chickenpox.
Once youve had chickenpox, you could develop shingles at some point in your life. This is because the varicella-zoster virus never fully goes away after youve had chickenpox. It lies quietly inactive in your nerve tissue. Later in life, the virus may become active again and appears as shingles.
Can you get chickenpox more than once?
Its rare to get chickenpox twice in your life. Once youve had chickenpox, youre usually immune to it for the rest of your life. However, its not totally impossible. If you have a severely weakened immune system , you can get chickenpox a second time. If youve had chickenpox, you are more likely to get shingles at some point in your life than a repeat bout of chickenpox.
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.
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How Do I Treat Post
Over-the-counter pain relievers will help ease those flu-like symptoms , but Dr. Weisenberg doesnt suggest taking them preventatively. Wait until you develop symptoms, he advises. You may not get them at all, and if you do, many times, the pain isnt severe enough that you would have to take a medication, he says. In fact, taking pain relievers prophylactically has been shown to decrease the effectiveness of some vaccines.
How Do I Spot A Severe Reaction
Severe reaction with the shingles vaccine is rarebut possible. I would say if you get a very robust response with shaking and chills, call your physician for directions on how to proceed, says Dr. Lee. If you break out in hives or have difficulty breathing, it could be an allergic reaction,” meaning you need to be seen by a doctor, STAT. Dr. Lee says she hasnt seen it with Shingrix in her practice. That said, as with all immunizations, there is a small risk of a reaction occurring.
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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.
Staying Active During Shingles
Light exercise has both physical and emotional benefits
Physical activity has many proven benefits: it helps prevent or manage health issues, improves mood, boosts energy, enhances the bodys immune response, and promotes better sleep. But what about exercising during an illness like shingles can it help? The answer is yes,with some caveats.
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster , is an infection caused by the varicella zoster virus , which first causes chickenpox. The virus then lies dormant in the nervous system, usually for decades, before reactivating as shingles.
The primary symptom of the illness is a painful red blistering rash that can erupt just about anywhere on the body. Accompanying symptoms are fever, headache, tingling sensations on the skin, general fatigue, and sensitivity to light.
It can take up to 5 weeks for the rash to crust over and heal. Until it does, patients are advised to distance themselves from immunocompromised individuals, pregnant women, young children, and others who have not been vaccinated against or have had chickenpox so they do not become infected.
The physical symptoms and social isolation can add considerably to a shingles patients distress. Patients and their caregivers can take a number of simple steps to minimize discomfort and raise spirits. Light physical activityincluding everyday pursuits and low-impact exerciseis one of them.
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Can Shingles Be Prevented Or Avoided
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
What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles
Usually, shingles develops on just one side of the body or face, and in a small area. The most common place for shingles to occur is in a band around one side of the waistline.
Most people with shingles have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Fluid-filled blisters
- Tingling, itching, or numbness of the skin
- Chills, fever, headache, or upset stomach
For some people, the symptoms of shingles are mild. They might just have some itching. For others, shingles can cause intense pain that can be felt from the gentlest touch or breeze. Its important to talk with your doctor if you notice any shingles symptoms.
If you notice blisters on your face, see your doctor right away because this is an urgent problem. Blisters near or in the eye can cause lasting eye damage and blindness. Hearing loss, a brief paralysis of the face, or, very rarely, inflammation of the brain can also occur.
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How Long Does It Take For Shingles To Go Away
According to statistics, the blisters of shingles are usually crusted within 7 to 10 days and then clear completely after 3 to 5 weeks. In the beginning, you may feel burning or tingling pain accompanied by numbness or itching on the skin. Then after 1 to 5 days, the burning feeling will go away, but a red rash may appear on the skin.
When Should I See A Doctor Because Of The Side Effects I Experience From Shingrix
Shingrix causes a strong response in your immune system, so it may produce short-term side effects. These side effects can be uncomfortable, but they are expected and usually go away on their own in 2 or 3 days. You may choose to take over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Contact your healthcare provider if the symptoms are not improving or if they are getting worse.
In clinical trials, Shingrix was not associated with serious adverse events. In fact, serious side effects from vaccines are extremely rare. For example, for every 1 million doses of a vaccine given, only one or two people might have a severe allergic reaction. Signs of an allergic reaction happen within minutes or hours after vaccination and include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness. If you experience these or any other life-threatening symptoms, see a doctor right away.
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How Can You Care For Yourself At Home
- Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. Antiviral medicine helps you get better faster.
- Try not to scratch or pick at the blisters.
- Keep the blisters moist until they heal over. One way to do this is to cover them with a thin layer of petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, and a nonstick bandage.
- Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen , ibuprofen , or naproxen . Read and follow all instructions on the label.
- Avoid close contact with people until the blisters have healed. It is very important for you to avoid contact with anyone who has never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine. Young babies and anyone who is pregnant or has a hard time fighting infection are especially at risk.
Can Shingles Be Prevented
There are 2 vaccines available to reduce the likelihood of developing shingles, Zostavax and Shingrix. If you are over 50, you can talk to your doctor about whether you need it. It is recommended for everyone over 60 and is given free of charge in Australia to people aged 70 to 79.
Vaccination will not guarantee that you will not get shingles, but it will reduce your chance of developing the condition. The vaccine used to protect against shingles is not the same as the vaccine used to protect against chickenpox. Read more about the chickenpox vaccine here.
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Do You Always Get The Typical Rash If You Have Shingles
Occasionally, some people dont get a rash. If you have any of the other symptoms of shingles , see your healthcare provider sooner rather than later. There are effective treatments you can take early for shingles. Even if you dont have shingles, seeing your healthcare provider will help you get your condition diagnosed and treated.
How To Survive Shingles
Remember that time I got the shingles? I know I wont be forgetting that experience anytime soonFor anyone who has had or currently has shingles, you know this is a pain you wont soon forget. They call it adult chicken pox, but I can assure you its far worse than chicken pox ever was. That or my memory is playing tricks on me!
Im going to skip over the whole medical diagnosis part since your doctor should probably be the one doing that but instead describe my personal experience with the shingles and what I did to nip it in the bud. The first thing I did when I got diagnosed, was immediately take to the internet to see if anyone had helpful tips for healing shingles. I read a lot of horror stories, some not-so-horror stories but also some really productive tips. Im hoping this post can be that for some of you. Or if you have a friend or family member suffering, feel free to pass onto them. We got this!
So, first things first
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Natural Remedies For Shingles
If you had chickenpox as a child, the shingles virus lies dormant in your body. The virus can reactivate later in life and cause a shingles rash. The rash can occur on any part of your body but typically only affects small sections.
Pain is usually the first symptom of shingles. The rash and fluid-filled blisters form within a couple of days after the onset of pain. Some people with shingles also have a fever, sensitivity to light, and fatigue.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , about 1 in 3 people in the United States will develop shingles at some point in their lifetime.
The shingles virus can last between two and six weeks. Shingles isnt life-threatening, but some people experience postherpetic neuralgia. This is when nerve fibers become damaged, causing shingles pain that lasts for weeks or months after the rash clears.
Theres no cure for shingles, but your doctor can prescribe antiviral medication to help shorten the duration of the virus and reduce symptoms.
Although an antiviral is an effective treatment for shingles, its not the only option. Several natural remedies may also reduce pain and discomfort.
Dry your body completely and then wash your towel to avoid spreading the virus to others.
- orange and yellow fruits