Should You Get Vaccinated After A Shingles Infection
Yes, vaccination is still important even if youve had shingles. However, Thomas says there’s no official guidance on how long you should wait. At the very minimum, she recommends waiting until the shingles rash goes away before you get vaccinated.
When you develop shingles, your body produces more antibodies to fight that infection. You get immunity, but it wanes over time, says Thomas.
That means its possible to get shingles again. This is rare only about 5% of people have a repeat infection. But you dont want to be one of them. Waiting to get the vaccine a year after an active shingles infection, when immunity has likely waned, is a reasonable option to protect yourself from a repeat infection, assures Thomas.
Experiences On How Long Shingles Last
Hope you guys are having a good day so far.
I wanted to ask everybodys experience on the first time you had shingles how long did it last from the first first stage until the last stage where the rash and blisters went away from the affected areas.
Im currently on day 7 and on the stage where Im noticing the red spots rash are turning into blisters and getting really painful. I have to sleep on a certain angle to get a good nights rest. Since the shingles is affecting my lower left chest, side and back.
Any feedback or experience would be appreciated. Thanks!
1 like, 18 replies
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
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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 .
Nerve Pain: Most Common Complication Of Shingles
Nerve pain is the most common complication of shingles. The formal name for shingles nerve pain is postherpetic neuralgia . What causes PHN? Nerves damaged by the vaccine-preventable herpes zoster virus.
Pain occurs in the skin that was initially affected by the shingles rash, says Thomas. It can be a mild, lingering pain or an abnormal sensation when touching the skin. For other people, it can be persistent, burning, or shooting pain that can be really disruptive to daily life.
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The Emotional Toll Of Nerve Pain After Shingles
Researchers are not just looking at biological and neurological risk factors for PHN. Dworkin was also a co-author of a study looking at psychological risk factors, too. The results were published in the Journal of Pain in 2005.
“It certainly looks like psychological stress can be a potent risk factor for PHN,” Dworkin tells WebMD.
The study showed that people with shingles who went on to develop PHN were more likely to have had symptoms of personality disorders, hypochondria, intense worry about their disease, and other bodily complaints.
Dworkin says previous studies have already shown a connection between stress and shingles development.
“One study even found that the risk of developing PHN was higher in people who were living alone when they developed shingles than people living with others,” Dworkin says, perhaps indicating that social isolation increases the risks of PHN.
How Long Does Nerve Pain Last After Shingles
Only approximately 9-15% of patients who get shingles develop Postherpetic Neuralgia. For those few patients who develop PHN, the length of time that it lasts usually varies. The majority of PHN patients have discomfort that lasts one to two months. About one-third of Postherpetic Neuralgia patients have symptoms that last around three months, and about one-fifth have symptoms that last a year or longer. Researchers are unsure what triggers the herpes zoster virus to re-emerge even after years of lying dormant. The virus may be obtained during youth, but it does not flare into shingles until years down the line. When the pain of shingles lingers long after the rash heals, it is considered Postherpetic Neuralgia. The bout of shingles damages the nerves. This means that the nerve damage caused by shingles affects a fully functioning nervous system. The damaged nerve will send random pain signals to the brain, which thereby causes a burning, throbbing sensation. Over time, the nerves of the skin calm, but due to the existing nerve damage, the pain can persist for years, even for the rest of the persons lifetime.
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What Is Shingles And What Are Its Causes
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. The rash can appear anywhere on the body, but is most often found on the torso.
Shingles is a reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Following the chicken pox, the virus lies asleep or dormant in nerve tissue. It never truly goes away though. The virus may awaken as Shingles years later. This occurs especially in times of stress or illness.
Are There Any Treatments For Phn
There are several treatments for PHN so people do not have to live with the pain after a shingles episode. Treatment includes different types of oral medicines such as:
What about treatment for PHN other than medications?
Neuromodulation or spinal cord stimulation
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When You Should See Your Doctor
Go to your doctor as soon as you see the rash, as treatment is most effective if its started early.
Your doctor may prescribe antiviral medicine, which may help you recover faster and will reduce the chance that the pain will last for a long time.
Your doctor may also give you medicine for pain relief.
See your doctor again if:
- you get any blisters on your face
- your fever or pain gets worse
- your neck gets stiff, you cant hear properly or you feel less able to think clearly
- you develop new symptoms such as drooping or weakness to one side of your face
- the blisters show signs of infection or if you see milky yellow drainage from the blister sites.
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Risk Factors For Nerve Pain After Shingles
Researchers have long known that older people are more likely to get PHN, the nerve pain after shingles, but recent studies have found other factors that increase risks.
In one study published in the journal Neurology, researchers — including Dworkin — looked at data from 965 people with shingles. The researchers identified five risk factors for developing PHN in people who had been recently diagnosed with shingles:
- Presence of symptoms before the rash appeared, like numbness, tingling, itching, or pain
- Severe pain during the illness’s initial stages
Importantly, the researchers found the more risk factors you have, the greater the risk of developing PHN.
For instance, 17% of women with shingles and 26% of those who had severe pain went on to get PHN. But 50% of women who were over age 60 and had symptoms before the rash, severe rash, and acute pain went on to get PHN.
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Lifestyle And Nutritional Support For Phn
Some people have found that eliminating coffee and other acidic and neuro-stimulant foods, beverages, and medications has helped in both decreasing PHN and outbreaks. Other lifestyle modifications, including meditation, guided imagery, yoga, breathing exercises, and moderate aerobic exercise can help. Better nutrition can also help people manage their overall health, deal with infection and other physical stresses, and just feel better. Proper and sufficient hydration, increased intake of essential fatty acids and good oils, and consuming fruits and vegetables with anti-oxidant properties can lead to a stronger immune system and better overall health.
The healthier a persons mind and body, the better they are able to cope with infections, and other physical issues. This seems obvious, but its one of those things that we sometimes need to remind ourselves. There are also some experts who say that the neuralgia, like many other aspects of herpesvirus infections, gets better by itself with time.
The good news is that with time and taking good care of yourself, most people find that neuralgia, like other aspects of Herpes infections, gets better, with fewer and milder occurrences. So thats something to look forward to! More tips on how to improve your physical and emotional well-being to support a healthy and strong immune system can be found on the Living With Herpes and Health & Wellness pages of HerpeSite.
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What Are The Three Stages Of Shingles
The stages of shingles are the early lesion, the vesicular stage, and the late stage.
The early lesion is the first sign of shingles and appears as a patch of red skin that may be sensitive to touch.
The vesicular stage is the next and is marked by the appearance of small red bumps on the skin, which are slightly cloudy and may have a yellowish tinge to them.
The late-stage is the last stage of shingles and is characterized by a rash of painful blisters, which crust over and eventually scab over.
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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.
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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Lasting Pain After Shingles
Pain that continues for a long time after a shingles rash has disappeared is called post-herpetic neuralgia. This is the most common complication of shingles. Its still not clear how it can be prevented or what the best treatment is.
Shingles typically causes a rash accompanied by pain in the affected area. The pain normally goes away when the rash goes away. This usually happens after two to four weeks. Pain that continues for longer is referred to as post-herpetic neuralgia. The word “post-herpetic” means “post-herpes” because the pain arises after infection by the herpes zoster virus. In very rare cases pain can come back after a shingles infection, even if it had already gone away and the rash has disappeared.
The main symptom of post-herpetic neuralgia is pain in the nerves . The skin is often overly sensitive and itchy as well. This can make it difficult or painful to wash yourself, turn over in bed, or hug someone. The pain and itching can be very severe and might keep you from sleeping.
What Is The Recovery Period For Postherpetic Neuralgia
The recovery period for postherpetic neuralgia is different for different persons. It varies from a few months to a few years. In some people, there may be a need to take pain medications for about three months. In some others, there may be a need to take medications for a much longer period than three months. In a rare few, postherpetic neuralgia may result in permanent nerve damage. The disease, however, is not fatal
- To diagnose the disease, the doctor will conduct a physical examination to determine the areas that are severely sensitive to touch
- He may also try and determine the margins of the affected area
- Tests are generally not required to determine postherpetic neuralgia, in most of the cases
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If You Have Shingles Symptoms Get Treatment Now And You May Avoid Permanent Nerve Pain
Shingles, a viral infection of the nerve roots, affects 1 million people in the U.S each year. Most people recover from their bout, but for as many as 50% of those over age 60 who have not been treated, the pain doesn’t go away. It can last for months, years, or even the rest of their lives.
These people have what’s called postherpetic neuralgia , the result of the shingles virus damaging the nerves of the skin. In some cases, the pain is mild. In others, even the slightest touch — from clothing or even a breeze — can be excruciating.
“PHN causes a great deal of suffering and high social costs,” says Robert H. Dworkin, PhD, a professor in the department of anesthesiology at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y. “It can severely disrupt people’s lives.”
But the good news is that there are drugs that can help treat and even prevent PHN, and doctors are learning more about who is at greatest risk of developing this debilitating condition.
How Do Dermatologists Treat Shingles
An antiviral medication can:
Reduce the amount of time that you have a shingles rash
Lower your risk of developing long-lasting nerve pain and other health problems
One of three antiviral medications is usually prescribedacyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir.
To treat your symptoms, dermatologists typically recommend the following:
Pain: Medication that you can buy without a prescription can help, such as:
If you have severe pain, your dermatologist may prescribe a medication that reduces inflammation, such as a corticosteroid.
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Is It Possible To Prevent Postherpetic Neuralgia
If shingles can be prevented, then PHN can be prevented. Fortunately, the vaccine Zostavax is about 70% effective in preventing shingles. The CDC recommends that everyone older than 60 years of age get the vaccine in 2011, the FDA approved the vaccine for people aged 50 and above. The CDC states, “Zostavax should not be given to pregnant women, persons with a primary or acquired immunodeficiency, or to persons with a history of anaphylactic reaction to gelatin, neomycin, or any other component of the vaccine. Herpes zoster vaccine can be administered simultaneously with other indicated vaccines.”
What You Can Do About Nerve Pain That Lingers After Shingles
Chronic pain that continues after a case of shingles is called postherpetic neuralgia . It is estimated that about 20% of patients will experience this type of nerve pain as a complication of shingles.
Those who have had chickenpox are at risk of developing shingles later in life. People who develop PHN are generally age 60 and older. Although there is no cure for PHN, there are several methods of pain management that can ease symptoms. Fortunately, the type of pain that arises from postherpetic neuralgia improves over time.
Neuralgia affects the nerves, causing structural and functional damage. It can feel like a stabbing or burning pain that radiates along the affected nerve.
Neuropathic pain is not caused by an external injury or stimuli but originates from inside the nervous system. When the herpes-varicella zoster virus is reactivated in the form of shingles, scar tissue forms alongside nerves, creating pressure, and sending pain signals to the brain.
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Key Points About Shingles
- Shingles is a common viral infection of the nerves. It causes a painful rash or small blisters on an area of skin.
- Shingles is caused when the chickenpox virus is reactivated.
- It is more common in people with weakened immune systems, and in people over the age of 50.
- Shingles starts with skin sensitivity, tingling, itching, and/or pain followed by rash that looks like small, red spots that turn into blisters.
- The rash is typically affects just one area on one side of the body or face.
- Treatment that is started as soon as possible helps reduce the severity of the disease.