A Word About The Shingles Vaccine
If you are age 60 or over and have not had shingles, talk to your doctor about getting the shingles vaccine. Not only will it reduce your risk of developing shingles, but if you do develop shingles, youll be more likely to have a mild case. And, just as important, youll be much less likely to develop PHN if youve had the vaccine.
Can Infection With Vzv During Pregnancy Harm The Baby
Some infections can be transmitted across the mothers bloodstream to the fetus or can be acquired by the baby during the birth process. Chickenpox during pregnancy poses some risk to the unborn child, depending upon the stage of pregnancy. During the first 30 weeks, maternal chickenpox may, in some cases, lead to congenital malformations . Most experts agree that shingles in a pregnant woman is even less likely to cause harm to the unborn child.
If a pregnant woman gets chickenpox between 21 to 5 days before giving birth, her newborn can have chickenpox at birth or develop it within a few days. But the time lapse between the start of the mothers illness and the birth of the baby generally allows the mothers immune system to react and produce antibodies to fight the virus. These antibodies can be transmitted to the unborn child and thus help fight the infection. Still, a small percent of the babies exposed to chickenpox in the 21 to 5 days before birth develop shingles in the first 5 years of life because the newborns immune system is not yet fully functional and capable of keeping the virus latent.
How Common Is Shingles
Shingles affects 1 out of every 3 people in the United States. More than 1 million cases of shingles are diagnosed every year. The risk of shingles increases as you get older, with about half the cases occurring in people over the age of 50. Shingles develops in about 10% of people who have had chickenpox at an earlier time in their life.
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How Long Does Shingles Last
The shingles virus lasts a lifetime. However, it may remain inactive for many years at a time. A shingles attack or episode may last between two and four weeks. Here is an average timeline:
What Are Other Complications Of Shingles
Complications of zoster are more frequent in people with lesions in or around the eyes, forehead, and nose , or around the ear and on the face . People with shingles in or near the eye should see an ophthalmologist immediately, as they can suffer painful eye infections and, in some cases, temporary or permanent vision loss. Symptoms can include redness and swelling involving just the white of the eye , the clear front of the eye , or internal parts of the eye. If the cornea is involved, treatment to avert permanent scarring is important to preventing lasting vision loss. The disease can cause damage to or death of the nerve cells that react to light .
Shingles infections within or near the ear can cause hearing or balance problems as well as weakness of the muscles on the affected side of the face. These problems can be long-lasting or permanent.
In rare cases, shingles can spread into the brain or spinal cord and cause serious complications such as stroke or meningitis .
The varicella zoster virus also may involve blood vessels or provoke an immune reaction irritating the surface of blood vessels . People with shingles have slightly increased risk of stroke, greatest in the first few weeks after vesicle eruption, but lasting for several months. The risk of stroke is highest in people with eye zoster, perhaps as much as five percent.
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What Is Postherpetic Neuralgia
Sometimes, particularly in older people, shingles pain persists long after the rash has healed. This is postherpetic neuralgia, defined as pain lasting three months after onset of the rash. Pain can be mild or severethe most severe cases can lead to insomnia, weight loss, depression, and disability. There may be other sensations, such as tingling, coldness, or loss of feeling. About 20 percent of people age 70 or greater who develop shingles may have long-lasting pain. Postherpetic neuralgia is not directly life-threatening and may get better over time.
About a dozen medications in four categories have been shown in clinical trials to provide some pain relief for postherpetic neuralgia. These include:
Tricyclic antidepressants : TCAs are often the first type of drug given to people suffering from postherpetic neuralgia. The TCA amitryptiline was commonly prescribed in the past, but although effective, it has a high rate of side effects. Desipramine and nortriptyline have fewer side effects and are therefore better choices for older adults, the most likely group to have postherpetic neuralgia.
Common side effects of TCAs include dry eyes and mouth, constipation, and impaired memory. People with heart arrhythmias , previous heart attacks, or narrow angle glaucoma should usually use a different class of drugs.
Topicals Are Not A Substitute For Medical Treatment
Topical products can help you manage your symptoms. But they arent a substitute for proper medical treatment.
Its important to visit your doctor if youre dealing with shingles. Your doctor can prescribe antiviral drugs and other medications that can shorten the duration of your infection and help you avoid severe complications.
The following creams may be able to help you manage shingles symptoms.
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What Brings On An Attack Of Shingles
Its difficult to predict when a shingles episode might happen again. However, there are some risk factors you should consider.
- Unhealthy lifestyle
- Acute on chronic stress
The first risk factor is age. If you are above the age of 50, ask your doctor about the shingles vaccine. In addition to being an effective shingles treatment, this vaccine is used to prevent shingles.
The second risk factor of shingles is immunity. If your immune system is weakened by illness or medication, you are at risk for contracting shingles or experiencing another shingles episode. Fortunately, you can naturally strengthen your immune system with the right diet and vitamins.
Citrus fruits, green vegetables, organic meat, eggs, whole grains, and dairy products are all part of a healthy diet. You should avoid sugar, refined carbohydrates, saturated fat, and arginine-rich foods, like nuts and seeds.
Additionally, take a multivitamin that includes vitamin A, B-12, C, and E. The amino acid lysine is also protective against infection. Many people over the age of 60 are deficient in zinc, selenium, and vitamin D. You may need to incorporate these supplements into your daily routine as well. Ask your healthcare provider for recommendations as to which vitamins and supplements you need.
How Does Shingles Spread
Someone with shingles can pass the virus to someone who hasnt had chickenpox or shingles before. That person is likely to contract chickenpox first. Then, the virus may reactivate later with symptoms of shingles.
The virus cannot be passed to someone who has already had chickenpox because they already have the virus. If they experience shingles, its because they already had the virusnot because they came into contact with you.
You can go to work, school, and other public places with shingles as long as youre otherwise healthy. However, you should take precautions and keep the shingles rash covered, regularly wash your hands, and avoid at-risk people. Infants, children, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems are at higher risk for contracting a virus, like shingles, than other people.
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When Should I See My Doctor
See your doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing any symptoms of shingles. Starting treatment with antiviral medicines within 3 days of the rash appearing should reduce the severity of symptoms and the risk of further complications, including post-herpetic neuralgia.
See your doctor straight away if you have symptoms of shingles and are experiencing the following:
- symptoms that affect your eye area
- a temperature of 38°C or higher
You should also see your doctor if you are pregnant, or have a weakened immune system due to medicine that suppresses the immune system, or a condition that weakens your immune system.
Are There Alternative Treatments
Some studies show that various alternative treatments, from acupuncture to supplements, can offer relief. The research isnât 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: Youâll 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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Where Does Shingles Come From
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.
Topical Pain Relief Products
e.g. lidocaine preparations , capsaicin cream
- topical pain relievers can be used in addition to oral pain relief medicines
- lidocaine is a local anaesthetic and numbs the skin
- do not apply lidocaine to broken or irritated skin avoid contact with eyes
- capsaicin cream should NOT be used on active shingles and may only be used to help with post-herpetic neuralgia . It should be discontinued if symptoms persist for longer than 2 weeks
- do not apply capsaicin cream to broken or irritated skin avoid contact with eyes
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How Is Shingles Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will do a complete physical exam and ask about your medical history, specifically about whether you have ever had chickenpox.
Your healthcare provider will likely know right away that it is shingles based on the unique rash. The rash usually appears one area on one side of the body or face. It appears as red spots, small fluid- or pus-filled vesicles, or scabs.
The healthcare provider may also take skin scrapings for testing.
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
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Why Does Shingles Appear Mostly On One Side Or In One Area Of The Body
The virus travels in specific nerves, so you will often see shingles occur in a band on one side of the body. This band corresponds to the area where the nerve transmits signals. The shingles rash stays somewhat localized to an area it does not spread over your whole body. The torso is a common area, as is the face.
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What Do Shingles Scabs Look Like
Shingles scabs develop when your blisters dry up. The blisters that form on the rash usually start to scab within 7 to 10 days. These scabs are usually dry and flat and can be red, brown, or yellowish in color.
Since shingles blisters affect just one side of the body, the scabs will only appear on one side as well. This is different from most other skin conditions, which typically affect both sides of the body.
Other common skin disorders might cause peeling or white patches . Shingles scabs usually dont have these characteristics.
The following images show what shingles scabs look like:
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Prescription Medication For Shingles Nerve Pain
Traditional, and arguably the most effective, medication for shingles nerve pain comes via a formally prescribed order from the dermatologist. Such medications have multiple purposes, like infection controlling, pain relieving, and inflammation reduction.
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Beginning with oral meds, well cover all the popularly prescribed routes.
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Help Is Available For Phn
Fortunately,early treatment for shingles can lower your chances of getting PHN.
For some people, the pain becomes refractory, or resistant to treatment, explains Dr. Rosenquist. So we want to treat shingles as fast as we can ideally as soon as somebody feels a tingling or burning sensation, even before a rash develops.
Sheadds that whenever nerve pain is involved, some people respond to treatment andsome dont.
However,medications taken orally or injected that can target the affected nerves may beable to stun the nervous system into behaving properly. That meanstransmitting the appropriate signal to the brain.
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Where Can I Find More Information About Research On Shingles
In addition to the NINDS, several other NIH organizations support research relevant to understanding, treating, or preventing shingles and its complications, including the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institute on Aging .
- NIH RePORTER is a searchable database of current and previously funded research supported by NIH and some other federal agencies. RePORTER also includes links to research results such as patents and publications citing support from these projects.
- PubMed allows users to search millions of journal article abstracts in biomedical research fields. The full text of many articles describing research funded by NIH and other sources is also freely available through PubMedCentral
What Is The Best Medication For Shingles
Your healthcare provider will determine the best medication for your case of shingles based on your symptoms, medical history, and response to shingles treatment. Heres an overview of the popular shingles medications that your doctor may prescribe.
|Best medication for shingles
|One 0.65 ml injection in the upper arm
|Irritation of the injection site or chickenpox-like rash near the injection site or headache
Dosage is determined by your healthcare provider based on your medical condition, response to treatment, age, and weight.
Other possible side effects exist. This is not a complete list.
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How Are Chickenpox And Shingles Different
When a person, usually a child, who has not received the chickenpox vaccine is exposed to VZV, he or she usually develops chickenpox, a highly contagious disease that can be spread by breathing as well as by contact with the rash. The infection begins in the upper respiratory tract where the virus incubates for 15 days or more. VZV then spreads to the bloodstream and migrates to the skin, giving rise to the familiar chickenpox rash.
In contrast, you cant catch shingles from someone else. You must already have been exposed to chickenpox and harbor the virus in your nervous system to develop shingles. When reactivated, the virus travels down nerves to the skin, causing the painful shingles rash. In shingles, the virus does not normally spread to the bloodstream or lungs, so the virus is not shed in air.
But a person with a shingles rashwhich contains active virus particlescan pass the virus to someone who has never had chickenpox or who has not been vaccinated. In this case, the person will develop chickenpox, not shingles. A person must come into direct contact with the open sores of the shingles rash. Merely being in the same room with someone who has shingles will not cause chickenpox. Children who develop chicken pox generally fully recover however, adults who develop chicken pox can become seriously ill.
Likewise, a person with chickenpox cannot give shingles to someone elsebut they can pass the virus to someone who has never had chickenpox.