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How To Tell If You Have Shingles

If You Have More Than One Area Of Blisters What Can You Expect If You Go To The Hospital

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

Its important to note that most people with shingles dont need to be in a hospital, but if you do:

  • Youll be in a contact isolation room.
  • The door will be kept closed.
  • A sign on your door will remind people who have never had chickenpox or the vaccine not to enter.
  • The sign will also remind staff to wear gowns and gloves when entering the room.

Am I At Risk For Shingles

Everyone who has had chickenpox is at risk for developing shingles. Researchers do not fully understand what makes the virus become active and cause shingles. But some things make it more likely:

  • Older age. The risk of developing shingles increases as you age. About half of all shingles cases are in adults age 60 or older. The chance of getting shingles becomes much greater by age 70.
  • Trouble fighting infections. Your immune system is the part of your body that responds to infections. Age can affect your immune system. So can HIV, cancer, cancer treatments, too much sun, and organ transplant drugs. Even stress or a cold can weaken your immune system for a short time. These all can put you at risk for shingles.

Most people only have shingles one time. However, it is possible to have it more than once.

What Are The Risk Factors For Internal Shingles

Many of the risk factors for internal shingles are the same as those for the skin rash of shingles. They include:

  • Having a weakened immune system. Diseases and conditions such as HIV/AIDS, organ transplant, and autoimmune conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or inflammatory bowel disease can make you more susceptible to shingles.
  • Undergoing cancer treatment. Cancer, along with radiation and chemotherapy, also weaken your immune system and can increase your risk of a herpes zoster infection.
  • Being older than 60. Shingles can occur in people of any age. However, its more common in older adults. About half the cases of shingles develop in people over 60 .
  • Taking certain medications. Drugs that lower your chance of rejecting an organ transplant or treat autoimmune diseases will increase your risk of shingles. Examples include cyclosporine and tacrolimus . Extended use of steroids will also increase your risk. These medications suppress your immune system, making your body more vulnerable to infection.

Not receiving the shingles vaccine will also increase your chances of getting the condition. Even if you dont remember ever having chickenpox, you should get the shingles vaccine. Studies have shown that 99 percent of people over 40 have had chickenpox. According to the

Read Also: How Do You Get Shingles On Your Body

How Is Shingles Diagnosed

As with most other diseases, doctors will typically review your symptoms first. Be sure to take note of how long youve experienced symptoms, what your exact symptoms are, and their severity. Doctors may suspect internal shingles if your symptoms involve more than your skin. They will often suspect eye or nervous system involvement based on the location of the shingles rash. However, if you have a painful rash along with a cough, severe headache, or abdominal pain, you may have a more serious complication of shingles.

Doctors may perform the following tests to confirm your diagnosis of shingles:

  • direct fluorescence antibody stain

Where Does Shingles Come From

Tell Me It

When you have chickenpox as a child, your body fights off the varicella-zoster virus and the physical signs of chickenpox fade away, but the virus always remains in your body. In adulthood, sometimes the virus becomes active again. This time, the varicella-zoster virus makes its second appearance in the form of shingles.

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How Can I Take Care Of Myself

  • Take a pain-relief medicine such as acetaminophen. Take other medicine as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
  • Put cool, moist washcloths on the rash.
  • Rest in bed during the early stages if you have fever and other symptoms.
  • Try not to let clothing or bed linens rub against the rash and irritate it.
  • You develop worsening pain or fever.
  • You develop a severe headache, stiff neck, hearing loss, or changes in your ability to think.
  • The blisters show signs of bacterial infection, such as increasing pain or redness, or milky yellow drainage from the blister sites.
  • The blisters are close to the eyes or you have pain in your eyes or trouble seeing.
  • You have trouble walking.

Risk Factors For Shingles

Once youve had chickenpox as a child, youre at risk of getting shingles later in life. The virus stays dormant, or asleep, in your body. It hides out in nerve cells near your spinal cord, but it can become active again when youre older.

Youre at increased risk of getting shingles if you:

  • had chickenpox as a child
  • are age 50 or older because your immune system weakens as you age
  • have a weakened immune system because of a disease like cancer, HIV infection, or AIDS
  • take medicine that weakens your immune system, such as chemotherapy or radiation for cancer, or stops your body from rejecting a transplanted organ

Shingles is especially serious in some groups of people, including:

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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.

Who Should Not Get Shingrix

Shingles: What You Should Know | Johns Hopkins Medicine

You should not get Shingrix if you:

  • Have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine or after a dose of Shingrix.
  • Currently have shingles.
  • Currently are pregnant. Women who are pregnant should wait to get Shingrix.

If you have a minor illness, such as a cold, you may get Shingrix. But if you have a moderate or severe illness, with or without fever, you should usually wait until you recover before getting the vaccine.

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Can You Get Shingles From The Covid

There have been a few reports of shingles happening in people who were vaccinated against COVID-19. The varicella-zoster virus was reactivated in these people.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

If youve had chickenpox, youre at risk of developing shingles later in life. Shingles causes a rash that is contagious and painful. The disease can have serious complications. The best thing you can do to reduce your risk is to get the shingles vaccine. The vaccines are safe and effective.

What Problems Can Happen

Most cases of shingles heal on their own, with or without treatment, and won’t lead to any other problems. In rare cases, shingles can lead to complications, including:

  • Ongoing pain : Damaged nerve fibers in the skin send confused messages to the brain, leading to pain. Pain can go on for a long time after the shingles rash is gone. This is the most common shingles complication.
  • Vision problems: Shingles near or in an eye can lead to vision loss.
  • Skin infections: A shingles rash can become infected with bacteria, leading to impetigo or cellulitis.
  • Nervous system problems: Shingles on the face can involve different nerves that connect to the brain. This can lead to nerve-related problems such as facial paralysis, hearing problems, and problems with balance. In very rare cases, shingles can lead to encephalitis .

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Is There Anything Else I Need To Know About Chickenpox And Shingles Tests

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the chickenpox vaccine for children, teens, and adults who never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine. Some schools require this vaccine for admittance. Check with your child’s school and your child’s health care provider for more information.

The CDC also recommends that healthy adults age 50 and older get two doses of the shingles vaccine called Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months. The vaccine provides strong protection against shingles and complications from the disease. You should get the vaccine even if youâve already had shingles, as it may prevent future outbreaks.

A different shingles vaccine called Zostavax is no longer available in the United States. If you had a Zostavax vaccine in the past, you should still get vaccinated with Shingrix. Talk to your health care provider about the best time get Shingrix.

How Is Internal Shingles Treated

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Even though shingles is a virus, this is a case where there are antiviral medications available by prescription. Thats why its important to see your doctor right away if you suspect you have shingles. Early treatment may reduce the risk of complications, like PHN. Serious complications require hospitalization.

Common antiviral medications for shingles include:

Depending on the location and severity of the shingles infection, steroids may also help. Anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and pain-relieving medication such as acetaminophen or other prescription pain medication can help in easing pain experienced from shingles.

Read Also: Where Do You Get The Shingles Vaccine

Who Should Not Be Vaccinated With Shingrix

You shouldnt 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.
  • Currently have shingles.
  • Are 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.

Why Do I Need A Chickenpox Or Shingles Test

You may need a chickenpox or shingles test if you are at risk for complications, are not immune to VZV, and/or have symptoms of infection. Symptoms of the two diseases are similar and include:

  • Red, blistering rash. Chickenpox rashes often appear all over the body and are usually very itchy. Shingles sometimes appear in just one area and are often painful.

You may also need this test if you are in a high-risk group and were recently exposed to chickenpox or shingles. You can’t catch shingles from another person. But the shingles virus can be spread and cause chickenpox in someone who doesn’t have immunity.

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How Is Shingles Treated

Although a shingles outbreak can last from 3-5 weeks, your doctor can prescribe an anti-viral medication that can help shorten the length of your illness. These anti-viral medications work best when taken at the first sign of outbreak, and can help prevent any long-term side effects of the virus, like long-term nerve pain, known as postherpetic neuralgia.

Aside from anti-virals, your doctor may prescribe pain medication or lotions to help ease the shingles rash itself.

Is Chickenpox And Shingles A Form Of Herpes

Shingles: What you need to know about causes, symptoms, and prevention.

Though shingles and herpes are two distinct conditions caused by two distinct viruses, the viruses are both members of a family formally known as herpesviridae. The herpes simplex virus takes its formal name from this umbrella term, while the varicella-zoster virus does not.

Although it is a condition unrelated to herpes, shingles is sometimes referred to as herpes zoster, a nickname that references the shared family of the viruses that cause them. Within this viral family, only the herpes simplex virus causes the condition we know today as herpes.

If you are ever unsure whether your doctor is referring to herpes simplex or shingles when you hear the word herpes, ask for clarification.

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Other Health Problems Due To Shingles

Some people develop other health problems after the shingles rash clears, which include:

Postherpetic neuralgia : This is the most common. Occurring where you had the rash, PHN can cause constant tingling, burning, and pain. For others, the pain comes and goes.

Whether the pain is constant or intermittent, it can go on for a long time. You can have PHN for months, years, or the rest of your life. There is no way to know how long it will last.

The pain caused by PHN can become so severe that it interferes with your life, making everyday activities painful. A musician may no longer be able to play an instrument. Some people cannot walk comfortably. It may be difficult to bathe or get dressed. You may have trouble sleeping.

How to prevent PHN: If you have shingles, you can greatly reduce your risk of PHN by getting treated for shingles within 3 days of developing the rash.

Get treated for shingles within 3 days of developing the rash

Taking antiviral medication within 3 days of getting the shingles rash can: Reduce your risk of developing PHN Ease symptoms of shingles Clear the shingles rash more quickly

Other health problems that can develop after the shingles rash clears include:

  • Blindness or loss of some eyesight

Although rare, some people die of shingles.

Treatment can prevent these complications.

You can find out if you have a greater risk of developing shingles at, Shingles: Causes.

Images

What Can Be Done To Prevent The Spread Of Shingles

A vaccine for chickenpox is available and it is hoped that individuals immunized against chickenpox will be less likely to develop shingles in later life.

The risk of spreading the virus that causes shingles is low if the rash is covered. People with shingles should keep the rash covered, not touch or scratch the rash, and wash their hands often to prevent the spread of shingles. Once the rash has developed crusts, the person is no longer contagious.

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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.

You Cannot Get Shingles From Someone With Chickenpox

A 69

You cannot get shingles from someone with shingles or chickenpox.

But you can get chickenpox from someone with shingles if you have not had chickenpox before.

When people get chickenpox, the virus remains in the body. It can be reactivated later and cause shingles if someone’s immune system is lowered.

This can be because of stress, certain conditions, or treatments like chemotherapy.

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The First Symptoms Of Shingles

Early symptoms of shingles can appear several days before the more obvious symptoms. However, some people will not have early symptoms before a rash appears.

The most common early symptoms occur on one part of the body or face. This often happens in the abdominal area.

These symptoms many include:

The pain can worsen as shingles develops. The pain can be sharp, stabbing, and intense.

It may also cause hypersensitivity, or an excessive reaction to touch.

There are also other early symptoms of shingles.

Although not every person with shingles will experience them, early symptoms include:

  • general feeling of being unwell

Your doctor can often diagnose shingles based on these symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe medication to speed up recovery.

Medication also reduces the chance of complications, so seeking early intervention is important.

What Are The Complications Of Shingles

Symptoms of shingles usually dont last longer than 3 to 5 weeks. However, complications can happen. The main complications that can result from shingles include:

  • Postherpetic neuralgia . The most common complication of shingles is called postherpetic neuralgia . This continuous, chronic pain lasts even after the skin lesions have healed. The pain may be severe in the area where the blisters were present. The affected skin may be very sensitive to heat and cold. If you had severe pain during the active rash or have impaired senses, you are at increased risk for PHN. The elderly are also at greater risk. Early treatment of shingles may prevent PHN. Pain relievers and steroid treatment may be used to treat the pain and inflammation. Other treatments include antiviral drugs, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and topical agents.
  • Bacterial infection. A bacterial infection of the skin where the rash happens is another complication. Rarely, infections can lead to more problems, such as tissue death and scarring. When an infection happens near or on the eyes, a corneal infection can happen. This can lead to temporary or permanent blindness.

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How To Treat And Prevent Shingles

Shingles is treated using antiviral medications, such as:

To manage shingles pain, you can also use numbing creams like lidocaine, or place a cool, wet washcloth on your skin.

It’s important to get treatment as quickly as possible because, “people with shingles can develop long-term pain or itch after the shingles resolves if the virus does too much damage,” Kim says.

To stop yourself from spreading varicella-zoster to anyone else, try to cover up your rash when possible and avoid directly touching it.

The best way to prevent shingles is to get a shingles vaccine. The newest vaccine, called Shingrix, is 85% to 90% effective at preventing shingles in people who have already had chickenpox. If you have never had chickenpox, you will need to get the chickenpox vaccine instead.

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