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.
Identifying Other Rashes Not Related To Dermatitis
Although inflamed skin is a symptom of many types of rashes, not all rashes are a form of dermatitis.
Skin can become irritated by the seasons and temperature changes. You may also notice skin changes when youre more stressed than usual. Rashes are also symptoms of some illnesses, like autoimmune conditions.
Lets explore more of these causes in detail.
Why Doesnt Having Chickenpox Earlier In Life Provide Immunity Against Having Shingles Later
After having chickenpox, your body doesnt rid your system of the virus. Instead, the virus stays in a portion of the spinal nerve root called the dorsal root ganglion. In most people, the virus simply stays there quietly and doesnt cause problems. Scientists arent always sure why the virus gets active again, but they know stress can be a cause.
You May Like: What To Put On Shingles
How Are Skin Rashes Described
Skin rashes can be described in the following way:
- Redness of the skin .
- Flat abnormally coloured areas of skin . Macules are often either red, dark red or purple, brown or white.
- Solid raised areas which are up to half a centimetre across .
- Solid raised areas which are more than half a centimetre across .
- Areas of red raised skin and scales, which have a flaky silvery-white appearance.
- Reddish-purple lesions which do not fade with pressure :
- If less than one centimetre across then these are called petechiae.
- If more than one centimetre across then they are called ecchymoses.
- If a blister is less than half a centimetre across then it is called a vesicle. If filled with yellow fluid then it is called a pustule.
- If a blister is larger than half a centimetre across it is called a bulla .
- Vasculitis. This is a condition involving inflammation of blood vessels, which may occur with various illnesses, including rheumatoid arthritis.
- Erythema nodosum. This is a condition which causes red rounded lumps , most commonly on the shins.
- Redness on the palms of your hands may be caused by liver disease, pregnancy or an overactive thyroid gland .
- A red rash may occasionally be due to an inflammatory condition called systemic lupus erythematosus, especially if it is on the cheeks.
Who Should Be Vaccinated With Shingrix
The Shingrix vaccine is recommended for those 50 years of age and older who are in good health.
You should get the Shingrix vaccine even if:
- Youve had shingles already.
- Youve been previously vaccinated with Zostavax . If youve been vaccinated with Zostavax, wait at least eight weeks before getting vaccinated with Shingrix.
- You dont know for sure if youve ever had chickenpox.
Ask your healthcare provider, who knows your entire health history if getting this vaccine is right for you.
Read Also: Can Shingles Get On Your Face
Causes Of Rashes In Children
Children are particularly prone to rashes that develop as a result of illnesses:
- Chickenpox is caused by a virus, and the rash is characterized by small itchy bumps and blisters that form all over the body.
- Measles is a viral respiratory infection that causes a widespread rash consisting of itchy, red bumps.
- Scarlet fever is an infection due to group A Streptococcus bacteria that produces a toxin, causing a bright red or skin-tone-colored, sandpaper-like rash.
- Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a viral infection that can cause red lesions on the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet.
- Fifth disease is a viral infection that causes a red, flat rash on the torso, arms, and legs.
- Kawasaki disease is a rare but serious illness that triggers a rash and fever in the early stages and can lead to heart complications.
- Impetigo is a contagious bacterial infection that causes an itchy, crusty rash and yellow, fluid-filled sores on the affected area, such as the face, neck, or hands.
You can treat most contact rashes, but it depends on the cause. Follow these guidelines to help ease discomfort and speed up the healing process:
Eczema Can Cause Red Itchy Skin With Bumps
Like shingles, a skin allergy can also cause red, bumpy, itchy skin, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology . These reactions include eczema, hives, and contact dermatitis. Eczema can cause dry, red, itchy, irritated skin, per the ACAAI. Small, oozing, fluid-filled bumps may also appear, especially when the skin is infected. Eczema is most common on the face, inside the elbows and behind the knees, and on the hands and feet, per MedlinePlus. There is no cure for eczema, but treatments can help manage the condition.
Don’t Miss: Cvs Appointment For Shingles Shot
Is A Vaccine Available To Prevent Shingles
Two vaccines are available in the United States to reduce your chance of developing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. One vaccine, Zostavax®, has been available since 2006. The second vaccine, Shingrix®, has been available since 2017. Shingrix is recommended as the preferred vaccine by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of medical and public health experts.
Shingrix is given as a two-dose shot in your upper arm. You should receive the second dose two to six months after receiving the first. Shingrix has been shown to be more than 90% effective in preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. Its effectiveness remains above 85% for at least four years after receiving the vaccine.
What Causes Eye Shingles
Before we take a closer look at shingles affecting the eye , lets talk about what causes shingles in the first place: the chickenpox virus.
As an adult, you may have a hazy memory of spending a week in bed, your itchy body dotted in pink calamine lotion as you binged on daytime TV and ate popsicles by the box.
The blisters may be long gone, but the chickenpox virus still lies dormant in your body.
About one in three U.S. adults will get shingles when the varicella-zoster virus that sparked their childhood chickenpox reactivates in the body, according to Mayo Clinic.
Shingles typically starts out as a band of tenderness or tingling on your skin and then turns into a painful rash.
People will tell you, It was the worst pain I ever had, Rapuano says.
Don’t Miss: Shingles Rash On Breast Pictures
How Long Does Shingles Last
Shingles blisters usually scab over in 7-10 days and disappear completely in two to four weeks. In most healthy people, the blisters leave no scars, and the pain and itching go away after a few weeks or months. But people with weakened immune systems may develop shingles blisters that do not heal in a timely manner.
Ringworm Causes An Itchy Red Circular Rash
Ringworm is a skin infection that, despite its name, is caused by a fungus, whereas the shingles rash is caused by a virus, according to the CDC. Ringworm can cause a red, itchy, circular rash on your skin. It may also cause scaly, cracked skin and hair loss. The rash can appear on any part of your body, and it spreads easily through skin-to-skin contact or contact with an item contaminated with the fungus, like dirty clothes or a shower floor. Some forms of ringworm can be treated with over-the-counter medication, while others must be treated with prescription antifungal medication.
Recommended Reading: What To Do About Shingles Pain
What Does Early Shingles Look Like
Roughly 1-5 days after the first symptoms of shingles herpes zoster appear, a characteristic rash develops, typically on the chest or torso. The shingles rash usually affects a particular area on one side of the body and does not cross over the midline. It consists of a band or stripe of fluid-filled blisters. As noted, the rash is most commonly on the chest or torso, but it can also affect the face, neck, or eyes. The painful rash is typically itchy or burning until the blisters start scabbing over in about 7-10 days. The blisters eventually become smaller and disappear. A shingles rash typically lasts 2-4 weeks in total.
Dont Hesitate To See Your Doctor For Just A Rash
You know your body best. If any symptom feels concerning enough that youre tempted to see a doctor, thats a sign that you probably should seek medical advice.
Plus, even if you go through all of the above questions, it can be tough to decode a rash on your own. Luckily, dermatologists are well-versed in rashes. Seeing one can get you one step closer to putting your rash behind you.
You May Like: Does Blue Cross Pay For Shingles Vaccine
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.
What Is A Skin Rash
A rash is an area of irritated or swollen skin. Not exactly specific, is it? Well, thats because rashes can be caused by so many things: allergens, chemicals, drugs, viruses, temperatureeven stress.
Rashes can also be indicative of more serious skin ailments, like eczema or ringworm. Looking for the signs will be important. Lets get started.
Also Check: How Do People Get Shingles
What Does Early Stages Of Shingles Look Like
Shingles progress through several stages as the virus replicates in your body. Shingles start as a rash with red bumps, known as papules, distributed most frequently over your back and torso.
Within several days, grouped blisters are present. Within seven to ten days, the vesicles dry up and crust.
The early stage of shingles looks like small, red, raised, solid pimples or an inflamed rash. These are tiny, raised bumps on the skin. Eventually, these bumps blister and later crust. The beginning stages of shingles create tingling and localized pain.
The early stages of shingles are also described as itching, burning, or deep pain. People who have had shingles also described the early stages as similar to the beginning of the flu.
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.
Read Also: Does The Shingles Vaccine Help With Herpes
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.
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.
Read Also: Can You Have Shingles Without Pain
The Shingles Belt: The Key To Spotting The Difference
The shingles brand or girdle is the easiest visual sign to spot when dealing with the active virus and a great way to tell the difference between this serious condition and a mild skin rash in seniors. Shingles classically appears around the waist or rib cage, circling the area to look like a belt. This rash formation can be wide or narrow and will typically cover only one side of the midsection.
If you believe you might have shingles, isolate to control the spread of the virus and contact a healthcare professional to complete a physical examination. A healthcare provider will quickly know if its shingles because of the viruss unique, active, blistering rash. They will prescribe the needed antivirals after the visit and suggesting at-home remedies to quicken recovery time and relieve pain.
Could It Be Shingles
If youre an older adult and experiencing a blistery rash, the most likely answer is that youve got , a.k.a. herpes zoster, which affects one in three people in their lifetime, according to the CDC. Shingles is whats known as a reactivation virus that usually affects older adults, says Dr. Jones Lopez. Basically, once youve had chickenpox, the varicella zoster virus stays in your body. After the initial infection, the virus goes into dormant state for potentially decades, he says. Much later in life, when your immunity goes down, it can reactivate as shingles.
Unlike a chickenpox rash, the shingles rash is usually confined to a specific area of the body and appears in a single band, rather than spreading indiscriminately. It typically happens somewhere on the chest or back, says Dr. Jones-Lopez, although the head and other parts of the body can sometimes be affected. The key thing that distinguishes the shingles rash is that it doesnt cross the midline. If it spreads across your body, its not shingles. For example, if youve got a rash on left side of your face but another on the right side of your back, you can probably rule out this illness.
In addition to a rash , you may have some pain, itching, or tingling on your skin. You may also have flu-like symptoms . Like chickenpox, shingles rashes may itchbut they are mostly known for causing pain.
You May Like: Owens Corning 50 Year Shingles
Do You Have A Rash Know The Difference Between Common Conditions And When It Could Signal A More Serious Health Concern
Rashes are caused by exposure to any number of environmental allergens such as food, weather, sunlight and even stress.
Many of these can be treated effectively with over-the-counter medications. But in some cases, your skin may be telling you that you have a more serious condition.
In dermatology, we treat a wide variety of rashes, from life-threatening to simply bothersome, says Ashley B. Crew, MD, a dermatologist at Keck Medicine of USC and clinical associate professor of dermatology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
Because skin is the largest organ in the body, it can show signs of an internal disease before the disease shows typical symptoms.
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.
Don’t Miss: Shingles Vaccine Insurance Coverage Blue Cross
Is The Zostavax Vaccine Still Being Used
Yes. The CDC, however, recommends Zostavax for adults age 60 and older, but not routinely for people aged 50 to 59. Zostavax is given as a single-dose shot versus the two-dose shot for Shingrix. Zostavax is less effective than Shingrix in preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia .
You can consider Zostavax if you are allergic to Shingrix or if Shingrix is unavailable because of supply shortage and you want some immediate protection from a possible case of shingles and/or postherpetic neuralgia. Because its a weakened live vaccine, it may be dangerous if you have cancer, HIV, or take steroids, chemotherapy or other medications that suppress your immune system. Ask your healthcare provider if the Zostavax vaccine is an option for you.
When Is A Rash More Than A Rash
A minor rash is easily treatable with antihistamines or hydrocortisone cream. But you should speak with your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Do you have a fever or pain accompanying your rash? It could be a sign of infection and should quickly be evaluated by your doctor.
- Do you have blisters? A rash that begins to blister but that cant be explained by exposure to poison oak or ivy could be shingles.
- Does your rash persist without improvement from over-the-counter medications? If antihistamines or hydrocortisone cream offer no improvement, a visit with your doctor is advised.
- Is there any bruising or swelling around it? The rash may be preventing proper blood flow.
- Is there any discharge or secretion from the rash? Any colored discharge or bad odor is a sign of infection.
- Did the rash appear and spread quickly? This could be an allergic reaction to medication or food. Seek immediate medical attention if breathing becomes difficult.
- Is the rash circular in shape? This could be a sign of Lyme disease.
- Do you have skin discolorations or changes in your skin texture? A yellowing of the skin could indicate liver disease. Hardening and darkening of the skin could be signs of diabetes.
Don’t Miss: What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles On The Face