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.
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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 Should I Expect Will Happen To Me If I Get Shingles
Shingles can be a very painful condition. If you think you have the symptoms of shingles, see your healthcare provider right away. Starting antiviral medications early can ease your discomfort and reduce the duration of your symptoms.
A better approach to shingles is to take action and do what you can to lessen your risk of getting it. If you never had shingles or had a bout of them in the past, talk to your healthcare provider about getting the shingles vaccine. If youve never had chickenpox, talk with your healthcare provider about getting the chickenpox vaccine.
What Are Early Signs Of Shingles
Early signs of shingles produce symptoms similar to a usual viral infection. The distinctive shingles rash may take days to appear despite itching and pain at the site of infection. This can lead to a missed or prolonged diagnosis. However, there are other early signs of shingles to look out for, including:
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What Does Shingles Under The Breast Look Like
A shingles rash under the breast appears as a long, broad strip around the torso. In the early stages, the rash may look flat or like raised blotches on the skin that are pink and red. When it is fully developed, the rash will:
- Be red but could be darker or the same color as the skin on people with dark skin tones
- Has fluid-filled blisters that form scabs
- Be painful, with pain often starting before the rash appears
- Have itchiness or tingling in the area before the rash develops
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Symptoms During The Prodromal Stage
Among the systemic symptoms that may appear in the first few days of the prodromal stage of shingles are:
- Sensitivity to light
Whether or not it feels like flu in the very beginning, the most telling first symptom of shingles typically is the pain. Often excruciating, the discomfort has been described as burning, stinging, tingly, prickly, itchy, numbing, achy, or shooting. It can be persistent or intermittent but will be limited to one side of the body. This symptom can be deceiving, though.
Because the pain from shingles is localized, it can be mistaken for other conditions depending on where its focused. For example, a stabbing or persistent pain on one side of the lower back may be attributed to sciatica or a kidney problem when, in fact, its the early sign of a shingles outbreak in that area. Similarly, shingles pain around the lips could suggest a cold sore coming on, while pain focused on the eye or ear might seem like the start of a migraine.
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What Are The Health Complications
The most common complication of shingles is postherpetic neuralgia . PHN causes severe pain even after the shingles rash clears.
People aged 60 years and older who dont seek treatment for shingles are more likely to develop PHN.
Shingles can also cause serious sight problems if it infects the structures of the eye.
Other rare complications include:
Other Complications Of Shingles
If the shingles rash appears around the eye or forehead, it can cause eye infections and temporary or permanent loss of vision. If the shingles virus attacks the ear, people may develop hearing or balance problems. In rare cases, the shingles virus may attack the brain or spinal cord. These complications can often be prevented by beginning treatment for shingles as soon as possible.
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What Shingles Symptoms Come Next
After about 1 to 5 days, a shingles rash will appear on one side of the body, often in a single characteristic band around one side of the torso or face.
The painful rash will then form itchy or burning blister-like sores filled with a clear fluid. The blisters will scab over in 7 to 10 days. Theyll gradually grow smaller before disappearing.
Shingles rash symptoms commonly last between 2 to 4 weeks.
What Are The Symptoms And Stages Shingles
Shingles symptoms appear in stages. At first, you may get headaches or feel like you have the flu, but without a fever. You may also be sensitive to light, have trouble thinking clearly or feel dizzy and weak.
A few days or even weeks later, an area of your body or face will feel itchy, tingly or painful. This is where a rash will appear. The rash will eventually turn into a cluster of blisters that are filled with fluid.
If the rash involves the ear, it can lead to hearing loss, imbalance, and weakness of the facial muscles. Shingles rash on the scalp causes pain while combing or brushing and bald patches. Shingles can occur in the mouth and are usually very painful, causing pain while eating and change in taste.
- Shingles of the eye and forehead
Rash and blisters appear around the eye, over the eyelids and one side of the forehead, extending to the tip of the nose. Patients present with burning or throbbing in the eye, with watering of the eyes, swelling, and blurred vision.
Pain may be present after the rash disappears due to nerve damage but eventually improves. Without treatment, it can lead to corneal damage and vision loss.
- Shingles on the waist and back
- Shingles on the buttocks
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What Can Be Done For Recurrent Shingles
Though most people will experience only one episode of shingles during their lifetime, recurrence can occur in certain individuals. In order to help prevent recurrent episodes of shingles, individuals with no contraindications can receive the zoster vaccine , which can prevent recurrent episodes of shingles. Otherwise, people who do experience a recurrent case of shingles should see their doctor as soon as the rash appears to promptly receive antiviral medication.
Burning Feeling And Red Rash
Between 1 and 5 days after you start to feel the tingling or numb feeling, a red rash will develop on the same area of your skin. Most often, the rash appears on one side of your torso, but it can show up anywhere on your body.
You may also have other symptoms along with the rash, such as:
When the rash starts, you should see a doctor for treatment as soon as possible. Starting antiviral medication treatment within 3 days of the rash first appearing can lower your risk of developing complications, like long-term pain.
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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.
Timeline Of Shingles Symptoms
Shingles actually doesn’t occur without a prior chickenpox infection. VZV lies dormant in nerve roots after you recover where it can reactivate years later, returning as shingles. But though they share the same viral cause, the two conditions are distinct.
The first sign of shingles is usually a burning or stinging sensation in a band-like formation around the waist, chest, stomach, or back.
You may experience itching or become incredibly sensitive to even the softest touch. The weight of bed sheets on your skin may be uncomfortable. You may also experience fatigue, fever, and headache.
After a few days or even up to a couple of weeks, the telltale shingles rash will appear. This rash consists of fluid-filled blisters that worsen quickly. The blisters may look like chickenpox, but they are clustered together.
The shingles rash can vary in color, depending on your skin tone. On darker skin, the rash may be pink, grayish, dark brown, or even purple. On lighter skin, it will be red.
This is the stage at which VZV can be passed on to someone who has never had or been vaccinated against chickenpox.
Blisters typically scab over within a week to 10 days. Shingles typically takes three to five weeks to progress through all of its stages.
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Can Shingles Be Prevented
Shingles can be prevented. Vaccine is available against varicella zoster virus to prevent chickenpox and shingles. According to the CDC , children are routinely recommended to take two doses of the vaccine, the first dose at the age of 12 to 15 months and the second between four and six years. Two doses of the vaccine are recommended in children and adults who have never had chickenpox. One dose of the vaccine prevents 95% of moderate disease and 100% of severe disease. Two doses of the vaccine are more effective. It is not known how long the vaccine is effective, but studies have shown that the vaccine provides protection against the varicella zoster virus for 10 to 20 years following vaccination.
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What Makes Shingles Go Away
The shingles rash usually goes away on its own. Several antiviral medicines, including Zovirax , Valtrex , and Famvir , can be used to treat shingles and shorten the length and severity of the illness. In the meantime, people with the rash can treat the symptoms to ease the discomfort. The life cycle of a shingles rash is about a month.
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Can I Give Shingles To Others
No one can catch shingles from you. But the virus can be spread to a person who has never had chickenpox. The virus lives in the blisters that shingles causes. It can be spread until the blisters are completely healed. If you have blisters that have not crusted over yet, you should stay away from:
- Anyone who has never had chickenpox
- Babies under 12 months old
- Very sick people
Tell your doctor if you live with children who have not had chickenpox. They may need to be vaccinated.
What Does Shingles Feel Like
To put it simply, shingles hurts and it makes you feel exhausted.
Before Id felt any shingles symptoms in my skin, I felt an overwhelming sense of fatigue. Not knowing a virus was chilling out in my nerve tissues and preparing to wage war in my body, I put on my gym clothes and walked to the YMCA. I took my usual classes and feigned a grin. Then I went home and napped for four hours.
But one morning I woke up and everything was a little different. The right side of my head and neck were in total agony. Yes, classic symptoms of shingles. But I had zero idea. I was just scared.
In my experience, shingles feels like someone boiling pins and them jabbing you with them. It was all I could do not to shriek each time the nearly electrical sensation struck.
I went to the bathroom to splash water on my face and noticed that my right eye was looking a little puffy and felt well weird. It was at this point that I, totally rationally , began to assume that I was slowly dying. Not at all an overreaction or anything!
Healthline explains that early on, shingles feels like burning or under your skin. Yep, I can confirm that. But its not just that.
Early symptoms of shingles may include fever and general weakness. You may also feel areas of pain, burning, or a tingling sensation. A few days later, the first signs of a rash appear. And boy did it.
Heres a photo of my shingles rash:
Finally I gave in and called the doctor.
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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.
What Are Complications Of Shingles
Though shingles often resolve without any major problems, several potential complications can arise from shingles.
- Postherpetic neuralgia : This is the most common complication of shingles. PHN is characterized by persistent pain and discomfort in the area affected by shingles. The pain can last for months to several years after the rash has cleared up. This complication is thought to occur because of damage to the affected nerves. The pain can sometimes be severe and difficult to control, and the likelihood of developing postherpetic neuralgia increases with age. This chronic post-herpetic pain can sometimes lead to depression and disability. In people 60 years of age and older with shingles, postherpetic neuralgia will develop in approximately 15%-25% of cases. It rarely occurs in people under 40 years of age. Timely treatment with antiviral medication during a shingles outbreak may help reduce the incidence of developing postherpetic neuralgia. If postherpetic neuralgia develops, there are various treatment options available including topical creams such as capsaicin , topical anesthetic lidocaine patches , antiseizure medications such as gabapentin , pregabalin , tricyclic antidepressant medications, and opioid pain medications. Intrathecal glucocorticoid injections may be useful for select patients with postherpetic neuralgia who do not respond to conventional medications and treatment measures.
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How Can You Prevent Spreading The Virus
You cant give shingles to someone else, but the varicella-zoster virus is very contagious. If you have shingles and you expose someone else who has not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, you can give them the virus. Theyll get chickenpox, not shingles, but this puts them at risk for shingles later on.
Youre contagious when your blisters are oozing, or after they break and before they crust over. Do the following to avoid spreading the virus to others:
- Keep your rash covered, especially when the blisters are active.
- Try not to touch, rub, or scratch your rash.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often.
Avoid contact with people whove never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, especially:
Who Should Not Get The Vaccine
Do not get the shingles vaccine if:
- You have a severe allergic reaction, such as anaphylaxis, to any ingredient of a vaccine or to a previous dose of Shingrix
- You have shingles now.
You are sick with an illness and a fever of 101Â°F or higher.
- You should also consider delaying the vaccine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Not enough is known about its safety for expectant and lactating women.
- You have had a negative test for varicella this would be uncommon for adults eligible for the vaccine, as most adults worldwide ages 50 and older have been exposed to the virus. You do not have to be tested before getting the vaccine.
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Active Phase Of Shingles
The active phase of shingles begins with the appearance of a rash. The shingles rash is red, inflamed, and turns into fluid-filled pustules. The rash usually appears on one side of the body in a band.
The torso is the most common area affected by the shingles rash. It can take 1421 days for the rash to crust over and no longer be contagious. Other symptoms that occur during the active phase include:
- Acute neuritis : Burning, throbbing, and stabbing pain at the infection site.
- Postherpetic neuralgia : When nerve pain persists for 90 days after the onset of the rash, it is called PHN. Other symptoms of PHN are numbness, itching, and sensitivity to touch. About 10%15% of people with shingles will develop PHN.
- Cellulitis : Immunosuppressed people and the elderly are at risk of developing skin infections from bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes.
- Vision deficit or blindness: If the virus involves the ophthalmic division of the fifth cranial nerve or the cornea, it can cause blindness.
- Ramsay Hunt syndrome: Also known as herpes zoster oticus, can cause facial paralysis, ear pain, blisters in the ear, hearing abnormalities, altered taste, and tongue lesions.