Tuesday, April 16, 2024

How To Stop Shingles From Itching

Preventing The Virus Spreading

How to treat shingles

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.

Apply Capsaicin Ointment For Pain Relief

Capsaicin, a component found in red pepper, can ease the pain caused by shingles. This compound depletes a neurotransmitter called substance P. which helps transmit pain signals to your brain.

Ointments with capsaicin are available in the market. You can also mix a pinch of powdered red pepper with plain skin ointment to make one at home. However, do keep in mind that its not a good idea to use capsaicin ointments on broken skin. Also, application of the ointment can cause burning and itching the first few times. Do a patch test before using to ensure your skin doesnt react adversely to it.1112

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What Not To Do

As your shingles blisters start to scab, be sure not to:

  • Touch or scratch your scabs. This can break the scabs and cause scarring. You might also introduce harmful bacteria into your skin that can cause an infection.
  • Use thick ointments. Thick ointments will keep the scabs moist, which may increase the risk of infection. Try to keep your scabs dry instead.
  • Wrap your scabs. Avoid bandages or dressings, which can stick to your scabs. Its best to keep them uncovered and dry.
  • Wear tight clothes. Tight, restrictive clothing will rub against the scabs and further irritate your skin.

Even as your blisters start to scab, you might still develop new ones for about a week. Thats why its essential to keep protecting your skin as it heals.

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Should I See A Doctor

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 doesnt 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.

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Who Should Not Be Vaccinated With Shingrix

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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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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

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.

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

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From Oatmeal Baths To Cold Compresseslearn How To Soothe Shingles Pain And Itching With These At

Medically reviewed in June 2022

Shingles is a painful, blistering rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus , the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, VZV remains in the body in an inactive state. Shingles occurs when the virus becomes active again, and most often appears as a single band of blisters that wraps one side of the torso, though it can appear on any part of the body. Its estimated that one in three people in the United States will experience shingles at some point in their lifetime.

While there is no cure for shingles, there are antiviral treatments available that can ease symptoms and reduce the duration of the infection. Antiviral treatments should be started within the first 48 to 72 hours, and preferably within the first 24 hoursif you or a loved one has shingles, see a healthcare provider as soon as possible.

How to soothe shingles at home In addition to following the instructions for shingles care given to you by your healthcare provider, the ideas below may help you get relief from the itching and pain.

Apply a lotion or cream During the blistering phase of shingles you can apply calamine lotion to soothe shingles pain and itching. Be sure to wash your hands and keep the nozzle of the lotion bottle clean in order to prevent infection. Once the blisters have scabbed over, you may want to try capsaicin cream, which is used to relieve neuralgia, or nerve pain in the skin.

How Is Shingles Treated

New treatment for the pain of shingles

Specific treatment for shingles will be determined by your healthcare provider based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • How long the shingles have been present
  • Extent of the condition
  • Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the condition
  • Your opinion or preference

There is no cure for shingles. It simply has to run its course. Treatment focuses on pain relief. Painkillers may help relieve some of the pain. Antiviral drugs may help lessen some of the symptoms and reduce nerve damage. Other treatments may include:

  • Creams or lotions to help relieve itching
  • Cool compresses applied to affected skin areas
  • Antiviral medicines
  • Anticonvulsants

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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 shouldn’t, giving false sensations that fool the central nervous system. Patients often report the sensation of insects on their skin when there aren’t 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.

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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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.

Can Shingles Be Prevented

Shingles Solution Body Lotion

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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Apply A Licorice Gel Or Tea For Pain And Inflammation

Licorice has traditionally been used topically to treat shingles and ease the pain that lasts even after the blisters disappear. So how does licorice work? Glycyrrhizin, an active component found in this herb, has been found to stop varicella zoster from replicating. You can apply licorice gel a couple of times a day for relief.1819 You can also boil the herb in water to make a strong tea and apply that on the blisters.

References

Tips For Coping With Shingles

If you have shingles, here are some tips that might help you feel better:

  • Wear loose-fitting, natural-fiber clothing.
  • Take an oatmeal bath or use calamine lotion to soothe your skin.
  • Apply a cool washcloth to your blisters to ease the pain and help dry the blisters.
  • Keep the area clean and try not to scratch the blisters so they dont become infected or leave a scar.
  • Do things that take your mind off your pain. For example, watch TV, read, talk with friends, listen to relaxing music, or work on a hobby such as crafts or gardening.
  • Get plenty of rest and eat well-balanced meals.
  • Try simple exercises like stretching or walking. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
  • Avoid stress. It can make the pain worse.

Also, you can limit spreading the virus to other people by:

  • Staying away from anyone who has not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, or who might have a weakened immune system
  • Keeping the rash covered
  • Not touching or scratching the rash
  • Washing your hands often

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Stay Away From Certain Groups Of People If You Have Shingles

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

How Do You Prevent Shingles

How to prevent painful rash of Shingles

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to protect against shingles in most people. The shingles vaccine should not be given to people who are immunocompromised.

For more information on shingles immunisation, see Shingles immunisation service.

Shingles is less contagious than chickenpox. The risk of spreading the disease is low if the rash is covered. When the rash has developed crusts, you are no longer infectious.

If you have shingles, you should:

Avoid contact with these people until the rash has developed crusts:

  • pregnant women who have never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine
  • premature or low birthweight babies
  • children who have not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine
  • people with weakened immune systems, such as people who:
  • have had chemotherapy
  • are living with HIV.

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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 Shingles And Who Can Get It

Shingles is another name for a condition called herpes zoster. It causes a painful rash. You can only get shingles if you had chickenpox in the past.

After you have chickenpox , the virus that causes it stays in your body, in certain nerve cells. Most of the time your immune system keeps the chickenpox virus in these cells. As you get older or if your immune system gets weak, the chickenpox virus may escape from the nerve cells and cause shingles.

Most people who get shingles are more than 50 years old or have a weak immune system. For example, you might get shingles if you have cancer, take medicines that weaken your immune system or have the virus that causes AIDS .

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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.

How Long Does Shingles Last

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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.

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