Seek Treatment Right Away
Many people have the mistaken impression that, like poison ivy, shingles is a nuisance rash that fades on its own. But in fact a shingles rash should alert people, especially in middle or old age, to seek immediate medical help, says Dr. Oaklander.
Rapid treatment with one of three antiviral drugs, acyclovir , valacyclovir , or famciclovir , can shorten a shingles attack and reduce the risk of serious damage, such as:
- Long-term pain. Pain that lingers in the area of a healed shingles rash is called postherpetic neuralgia. This often-disabling pain can last several months to a year.
- Prolonged itching. Many people are left with an itchy area from their shingles, which can be as disabling as chronic pain. It is most common on the head or neck.
- Damage to vision and hearing. Pain and rash near an eye can cause permanent eye damage and requires an urgent ophthalmological exam. When the nerve to the ear is affected, it can permanently damage hearing or balance.
- Strokes and heart attacks. A PLOS Medicinestudy that tracked about 67,000 people ages 65 and older who were newly diagnosed with shingles found that stroke risk more than doubled in the first week after the shingles diagnosis. The same study reported an increased risk for heart attacks in the three months after shingles, but the additional risk dissipated after six months.
Understanding And Treating Postherpetic Itch
An itchy post-shingles complication can be challenging to control.
Postherpetic itch , like postherpetic neuralgia , occurs in shingles patients who have persistent nerve damage after the rash subsides. The neuropathic itch condition is caused when the herpes zoster virus kills or damages the neurons that mediate normal itch and pain sensations. PHI gets less attention than PHN, but it is just as disabling, and is a challenge to treat.
Many cases of shingles are preceded or accompanied by itch or pain. In older or more severely affected patients with the most severe nerve damage, mild or severe pain and itching can last for months or years.
PHI is most common after shingles affecting the head or neck. PHI and PHN, which can occur together, are more prevalent and longer-lasting in the elderly because they are less able to regenerate the neurons damaged by shingles.
PHI is believed to be the result of isolated remaining nerve fibers firing when they shouldnât, giving false sensations that fool the central nervous system. Patients often report the sensation of insects on their skin when there arenât any.
Neurologist Anne Louise Oaklander, MD, director of the Nerve Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, notes that while itch and pain are distinct sensations, they are closely related and are the two major nocifensive sensations. The job of itch and pain is to protect us from harmful stimuli, she says.
Preventing The Virus Spreading
If you have the shingles rash, do not share towels or flannels, go swimming, or play contact sports. This will help prevent the virus being passed on to someone who has not had chickenpox.
You should also avoid work or school if your rash is weeping and cannot be covered.
Chickenpox can be particularly dangerous for certain groups of people. If you have shingles, avoid:
- women who are pregnant and have not had chickenpox before as they could catch it from you, which may harm their unborn baby
- people who have a weak immune system, such as someone with HIV or AIDS
- babies less than one month old, unless it is your own baby, in which case your baby should have antibodies to protect them from the virus
Once your blisters have dried and scabbed over, you are no longer contagious and will not need to avoid anyone.
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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.
Can I Put Lidocaine On Shingles Rash
. In this regard, can you put numbing cream on shingles?
If you have severe pain after the rash clears or an infection during your shingles outbreak, your doctor might prescribe: A numbing medicine: You might get lidocaine for pain. It can come in a variety of forms, such as creams, lotions, patches, powders, and sprays, among others.
Also, can I put calamine lotion on shingles rash? Calamine lotionThe American Academy of Dermatology recommends this lotion for shingles relief. Its gentle and can help keep itching to a minimum. Apply once your blisters have scabbed over, says Dr. Ploch.
Consequently, what is the best cream to put on shingles?
Topical creams may help reduce itching. Antiviral medications, such as acyclovir , valacyclovir , and famciclovir , can decrease the duration of skin rash and pain, including the pain of PHN.
Can you use cold sore cream on shingles?
Uses. Acyclovir is used to treat infections caused by certain types of viruses. It treats cold sores around the mouth , shingles , and chickenpox. This medication is also used to treat outbreaks of genital herpes.
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When To Seek Care
Early shingles symptoms, such as pain or flu-like feelings, are not obvious signs of a shingles outbreak.
Once a rash appears, you should see your primary care physician or a dermatologist. A trained eye can often diagnose shingles by visually inspecting the rash.
If you have shingles, you may never experience the extreme pain that can often come with it. You may only feel itching and some minor discomfort.
Even without the painful symptoms of shingles, its recommended that you see a healthcare professional and start antiviral treatment within 72 hours of a rashs appearance.
Its especially important to seek prompt medical care if a rash forms near one or both eyes. Shingles in the eye may cause permanent vision loss.
Who Should Not Be Vaccinated With Shingrix
You should not receive the Shingrix vaccine if you:
- Have ever had a severe allergy to this vaccine or any ingredient in this vaccine.
- Are breastfeeding or pregnant.
- Are somewhat ill or very ill and have a high fever.
- Have tested negative for immunity to varicella zoster virus .
Ask your healthcare provider if the benefits of getting the vaccine outweigh any potential risks.
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Shingles Can Be Devastating But You Can Prevent It Treat It And Minimize Its Long
Pretty much 100% of older Americans have had chickenpox. They might have had mild cases they didnt recognize. That puts us all at risk for shingles, a serious adult condition caused by the same virus, known as varicella-zoster. Prior to the availability of a vaccine, about a third of people over 60 got shingles, and half of people 85 or older had already had an attack.
How To Cure Shingles In 3 Days
If you want to cure your shingles quickly without much so much struggle, you must activate your body to fight the virus varicella Zoster in the below discussed two ways:
- Use anti-itching and anti-inflammatory medications such as lotions and creams outside the skin this will facilitate healing from outside the skin.
- Make regular consumption of essential nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, and enzyme supplements that will help to strengthen your bodys immune system. A strong body immune system will be able to destroy the shingles virus varicella-zoster.
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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.
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.
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Avoid Scratching The Blisters
It might be tempting to scratch or pick at the blisters, especially if theyre causing you discomfort. Know that theyll eventually crust over and fall off if you leave them alone.
Scratching at blisters or scabs can lead to infection and scarring. Cleaning and covering them regularly with a new sterile bandage can help reduce the likelihood that youll pick at the rash.
Keeping the rash clean is one part of the process. The other is to make sure you bandage it properly, especially if the rash is still weeping .
When dealing with a painful shingles rash, your best bet is to use bandages that are:
When youre switching the dressing, allow the skin to dry before covering it with a new bandage.
In addition to keeping the rash protected, bandaging also prevents you from passing the varicella-zoster virus to another person. Be sure to keep bandages on any areas of the rash that havent scabbed over yet.
While shingles isnt contagious, the virus that causes it can be passed to anyone who hasnt had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine. If they come into skin-to-skin contact with the fluid that oozes from a shingles blister, they could end up with chickenpox, according to
Are There Alternative Treatments
Some studies show that various alternative treatments, from acupuncture to supplements, can offer relief. The research isnÃÂ¢t complete, but some shows promise. Check with your doctor before you try any of these:
TENS . This therapy uses tiny electrical pulses to relieve pain. A TENS unit is about the size of a smartphone and comes with small patches called electrodes. You put them over the painful area and turn the unit on and off as your pain comes and goes.
Traditional Chinese medicine: These treatments aim to restore balance in your body. They include acupuncture, the ancient practice of inserting very thin needles into your skin at specific points. Also, moxibustion and cupping, two types of heat therapy, are supposed to draw out toxins. These treatments may be done in combination.
Creams and other skin treatments: A mixture of liquid dimethyl sulfoxide and idoxuridine, an antiviral drug, may reduce swelling and the number of blisters you have when you put it on your rash. And chlorophyll, the chemical that gives plants their green color, is also used directly on the rash as a cream or saline solution.
Supplements: YouÃÂ¢ll find a long list of herbs, pills, and oils that claim to relieve shingles. Most have no research to back them up, but there are a couple of exceptions. Papain, a protein found in papayas, is sold in capsules. And manuka and clover honeys can be put directly on your skin. Very early studies on both show they may be helpful.
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When Should You See A Healthcare Provider For Shingles
If you experience persistent pain or a widespread itchy rash on the body or face, you should reach out to your healthcare provider. The National Institute of Aging recommends that you see your healthcare provider no later than three days after the rash or skin pain has appeared.
Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to reducing your risk for complications, helping you to heal quicker and reduce the potential for scarring.
Can Shingles Be Prevented
A vaccination called Zostavax reduces the likelihood of developing shingles. If you are over 50, you can talk to your doctor about whether you need it. It is recommended for everyone over 60. It 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. Zostavax is not the same as the vaccine used to protect against chickenpox. Read more about the chickenpox vaccine here.
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Check If You Have Shingles
The first signs of shingles can be:
- a tingling or painful feeling in an area of skin
- a headache or feeling generally unwell
A rash will appear a few days later.
Usually you get the shingles rash on your chest and tummy, but it can appear anywhere on your body including on your face, eyes and genitals.
The rash appears as blotches on your skin, on 1 side of your body only. A rash on both the left and right of your body is unlikely to be shingles.
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
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How Long Does Shingles Last
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.
Antiviral Medicines For Shingles
Antiviral medicines used to treat shingles include aciclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir. An antiviral medicine 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.
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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.