Is Chickenpox And Shingles A Form Of Herpes
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.
How Are Shingles And Herpes Treated
Neither condition can be cured, but treatments are available.
Shingles is treated with both antiviral prescription medications that can speed up your healing and with medications that can help with your pain. Your exact treatment plan will depend on:
- how severe your case is
- your overall health
- the medications you already take
Antiviral options include:
Herpes is also treated with antiviral medication.
Antivirals can help you heal first and reduce your symptoms. Depending on your case and your overall health, you might take these medications during an outbreak or daily.
Options for herpes treatment include both acyclovir and valacyclovir.
Some other pain management options may include:
- numbing patches, gels, or creams you can apply to your skin
- codeine or other narcotic medications
- steroid injections
- anticonvulsants or antidepressants that can control pain
Talk with a doctor before using any of the treatments above. These treatments should not be used without guidance from a medical professional. A medical professional can help you avoid any unintended side effects, such as allergic reactions.
Treatment Of Shingles In The Eye
However, if you do end up with shingles, McLaughlin says the most effective treatment is antiviral medication.
The sooner you can start it, the better. Antiviral medications are most effective when started within 72 hours. These meds will reduce the duration and severity of your infection, as well as lower your risk of having those complications of eye damage, blindness, and postherpetic neuralgia.
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How Do You Prevent Eye Shingles
The Food and Drug Administration has approved Shingrix, a newer, more effective shingles vaccine.9
According to the CDC, the vaccine is about 90% effective at preventing shingles and lowering the risk of severe illness.
Shingrix is recommended for adults aged 50 years or older and younger adults with a weak immune system.
You can prevent shingles infection from spreading by:
- Staying away from older adults, pregnant women, and anyone who is immunocompromised
- Not scratching or touching the rash, as this may escalate the infection
- Covering the rash to avoid shedding
- Cleaning your hands after touching the affected area
S Of The Shingles Rash
If you have a rash of blisters on your skin or a rash that looks like any shown below, see your doctor immediately for a diagnosis. If you have shingles, its important to get treatment, preferably within 2 to 3 days.
If youve had the rash for longer than 2 to 3 days, its still important to see your doctor.
A typical shingles rash
Doctors often refer to this rash as the shingles band because it looks like a band that appears on one area of your body, as shown here.
A rash on one side of the body
A key that you have shingles is that the rash only develops on one side of your body.
Close-up of a shingles rash
The shingles rash often causes a cluster of tiny blisters. You may notice that the skin beneath the blisters is red and inflamed, as shown here.
The rash will also feel painful.
Blistering shingles rash on a mans chest
Although the rash can begin in one area, you may notice that a few scattered blisters develop in other areas, as shown here.
Shingles rash on the palm of a mans hand
While shingles tends to develop on your body or face, it can appear anywhere on your skin.
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Preventing Shingles In The Eye
When it comes to shingles and especially ocular shingles prevention is the best medicine.
Fortunately, there are two shingles vaccines:
Shingrix A fairly new vaccine, Shingrix is recommended for adults ages 50 and over. You get Shingrix in two doses two to six months apart, and its more than 90% effective in protecting you from shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia. Protection stays strong for at least four years after you get vaccinated.
Zostavax An older vaccine for shingles, Zostavax is a live vaccine that is less effective but may be used in healthy adults ages 60 and up if theres a reason they cant have Shingrix administered. For example, someone who is allergic to a component of Shingrix may opt for Zostavax.
The availability of a newer, more effective vaccine should prevent even more shingles outbreaks. We recommend the vaccine for all of our patients, Dr. Rapuano says.
WORRIED YOU MIGHT HAVE EYE SHINGLES ?Find an optician near you and schedule an appointment.
Page published on Sunday, 24 May 2020
Page updated on Wednesday, 2 February 2022
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Shingles Or Something Else
Small blisters that appear only on the lips or around the mouth may be cold sores, sometimes called fever blisters. They’re not shingles, but are instead caused by the herpes simplex virus. Itchy blisters that appear after hiking, gardening, or spending time outdoors could be a reaction to poison ivy, oak, or sumac. If you aren’t sure what’s causing your rash, see your healthcare provider.
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Symptoms Of Shingles In The Eye
Shingles in the eye often begin with a painful blistering rash on one side of the upper face, including the nose, forehead, or scalp.
Research shows about 10 to 20% of shingles cases affect the eye.6 One indicator of eye shingles is a rash on the tip of your nose. Sometimes, ocular shingles may appear without a skin rash.
- Vision loss in severe cases
- Muscle weakness or paralysis
If you suspect you have eye shingles, seek medical attention as soon as you can to prevent progression and eye damage.
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.
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Can You Get Shingles In The Eye
Its most common to get the shingles rash on your chest, back or legs but you can get shingles on the face and eye, Rapuano says. About 15% of cases involve shingles in the eye area, he says.
However, theres a difference between having shingles around the eye and having shingles in the eye, which doctors refer to as eye involvement, Rapuano says. A patient can have shingles around the eye area without the eye itself being involved, he says.
About half of people who have shingles on the forehead or nose will also have eye involvement.
Ocular shingles typically occurs in one eye on the same side of the face as the rash. It typically occur after the shingles rash on the body has resolved, Rapuano says.
A patient who has had shingles on the face may feel like theyre healing well but then notice a symptom such as redness in the eye. When this happens, patients need to see an eye doctor right away, Rapuano says.
What Causes Shingles In The Eye
The varicella-zoster virus, the virus that causes chickenpox, lives in the nerves of people who have previously had chickenpox. It becomes herpes zoster ophthalmicus when it reaches the eye, and it can cause severe pain along with the notorious rash that accompanies shingles on other areas of the body.
The shingles virus does not always activate in people who have had chickenpox. When it does, the shingles rash most often appears along the back, ribs, and chest areas. Occasionally, it will show up in other areas, like the face or legs.
According to experts, the resulting weakened immune systems and stress have caused increased shingles cases, tripling them from 2004 to 2016. You cannot predict whether you will have eye shingles since the virus can travel over your body and appear in different areas.
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Painful Virus That Can Cause Vision Loss Is Affecting More Older Adults
by Christina Ianzito, AARP, May 15, 2019
En español | The side effects of the shingles virus can range from extremely unpleasant to nightmarish, especially when the virus affects the eye. Unfortunately, shingles of the eye is rising dramatically, according to researchers at the University of Michigan’s Kellogg Eye Center who found that the incidence has tripled since 2004.
The study results were presented at the 2019 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology meeting in Vancouver recently and given how dramatic the findings are, says lead author Nakul Shekhawat, we are now looking at overall incidences of shingles in that time frame and seeing if there’s a similar pattern.”
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which first enters the body as chickenpox and never leaves. It stays dormant in sensory nerve roots, and in about one-third of us, reactivates later in life as shingles. Its most common early symptoms are itching, tingling or pain, followed by an angry red rash along the nerve path traveled by the virus the path depends on where the virus has been sleeping.
It often appears as an angry red rash on the torso, but about 20 percent of cases show up in the eye area on one side of the face typically with redness on and around the eyelid, and sometimes on the forehead and scalp.
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.
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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.
Treatments For Ocular Shingles
The treatment for shingles around the eye is the same as treatment for shingles on any other area of the body. Three antiviral drugs have been approved for treatment of shingles.
These drugs can:
Shorten the length of a shingles outbreak.
Make shingles less painful.
Reduce the chances of post-herpetic neuralgia, a complication that can cause ongoing pain and sensitivity after the rash resolves.
In addition to these overall benefits, prompt treatment with antiviral medication can cut in half the incidence of eye disorders in ocular shingles.
Without antiviral medication, 50% of ocular shingles patients will develop eye disorders compared with only 25% of patients who take the medication.
Its crucial to begin taking antiviral medication within 72 hours of the outbreak of the skin rash. It should be started as soon as possible after the rash starts, Rapuano says.
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Shingles Rash In The Eyes
Ophthalmic shingles, or herpes zoster ophthalmicus , is when the shingles rash is in and/or around the eye. It is a severe variant that affects 20% of people with the infection.
If you develop a shingles rash near your eye, contact your healthcare provider right away.
lauraag / Getty Images
HZO usually appears within two to four weeks after a shingles rash starts. People who have a compromised immune system, such as those with HIV/AIDS, are at higher risk for developing this.
All parts of the eye can be affected. For example:
- You can develop blisters around the eye that may cause the eyelids and surrounding area to swell.
- The corneaâthe transparent part over the front of the eyeâcan be affected, causing calcification .
- Blood vessels in the eye could become more pronounced blood flow to the eye could be impacted.
To reduce your risk of long-term eye complications, contact your healthcare provider right away if you have a shingles rash on your face.
What Is Herpes Zoster Of The Eye
Herpes zoster, commonly known as “shingles,” is a viral disease that causes a painful skin rash consisting of small fluid-filled blisters that form scabs and can leave permanent scars. When it involves the region that surrounds your eye, it is called herpes zoster ophthalmicus and can cause serious eye problems including corneal ulcers, inflammation, and glaucoma.
Shingles In The Back Of The Eye
Shingles involving the retina or optic nerve structures found at the back of the eye typically is not associated with a skin rash or other symptoms at the eye surface. This type of shingles infection is called viral retinitis and occurs much less commonly than HZO. But it can significantly damage the retina through a combination of infection and inflammation. Viral retinitis can take the form of acute retinal necrosis or progressive outer retinal necrosis .
In contrast to patients with HZO or other forms of shingles that are associated with a skin rash, patients with ARN are often middle-aged and generally healthy. Diagnosis of ARN requires a careful eye exam by an ophthalmologist, and a sample may be collected from the inside of the eye for testing to confirm that the infection is caused by the varicella zoster virus. In mild cases, ARN can be treated with oral antiviral medications, with or without injections of antiviral medications into the eye. In more severe cases, or if there is no improvement with oral medications and intraocular injections, these infections are treated with intravenous antiviral medications until the infection starts to improve.
Can Shingles Cause Chronic Pain
In some people, the pain of shingles may linger for months or even years after the rash has healed. This pain, due to damaged nerves in and beneath the skin, is known as postherpetic neuralgia. Others feel a chronic itch in the area where the rash once was. In severe cases, the pain or itching may be bad enough to cause insomnia, weight loss, or depression.
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Shingles In The Eye: Causes Symptoms Prevention & Treatments
If youve had the chickenpox virus as a child, you could develop shingles later in life. Shingles can appear anywhere on your body and cause complications, including in your eyes.
Shingles in eye areas can affect vision, along with the other painful and potentially dangerous symptoms that come with the virus. If you have symptoms of shingles, talk to your doctor for treatment options.
Prevention Of Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus
Recombinant herpes zoster vaccine Herpes Zoster Vaccine Chickenpox and shingles are caused by the varicella-zoster virus chickenpox is the acute invasive phase of the virus, and shingles represents reactivation of the… read more is recommended for immunocompetent adults 50 years, regardless of whether they have had herpes zoster or been given the older, live-attenuated vaccine. This recombinant vaccine decreases the chance of getting herpes zoster by 97% for adults 50 to 69 years and 91% for adults 70 years.
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Contact Dermatitis Can Cause A Rash And Blisters
Contact dermatitis can also cause a rash, blisters, itching, and burning, per the ACAAI. It occurs when the skin comes into contact with an irritant or an allergen, such as soaps, laundry detergents, shampoos, metals, medications, and more. Allergens like poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac can cause red, itchy rashes that may include blisters. Treatment can offer relief and aid healing.
The Shingles Rash Usually Occurs On One Side Of The Body Or Face Most Commonly On The Trunk
Its easy to mistake a shingles rash for another health condition that affects the skin. The shingles virus typically causes a painful rash and blisters, which can resemble many other skin conditions psoriasis, eczema, and hives among them. However, there are a few signs that your rash is more likely to be shingles than something else.
To get shingles, you must have had chickenpox. Shingles, or herpes zoster, occurs when the chickenpox virus reactivates after lying dormant in the body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 out of 3 people in the United States will get shingles in their lifetime. While your risk of getting shingles increases as you age, anyone can get it if they had chickenpox, notes the CDC.
About half of all shingles cases occur in adults age 60 or older, and the risk of getting shingles becomes much greater by age 70, according to the National Institute on Aging.
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