The First Symptoms Of Shingles
Early symptoms of shingles can appear several days before the more obvious symptoms. However, some people will not have early symptoms before a rash appears.
The most common early symptoms occur on one part of the body or face. This often happens in the abdominal area.
These symptoms many include:
The pain can worsen as shingles develops. The pain can be sharp, stabbing, and intense.
It may also cause hypersensitivity, or an excessive reaction to touch.
There are also other early symptoms of shingles.
Although not every person with shingles will experience them, early symptoms include:
- general feeling of being unwell
Your doctor can often diagnose shingles based on these symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe medication to speed up recovery.
Medication also reduces the chance of complications, so seeking early intervention is important.
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.
How Long Does A Shingles Outbreak Last
It can take three to five weeks from the time you begin to feel symptoms until the rash totally disappears.
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Zoster Sine Herpete : Shingles Without The Rash
It is possible for a person to develop shingles without being affected by the rash, although this is rare. When shingles occurs without the rash being present, this is called zoster sine herpete .
When shingles occurs without a rash, the first symptoms of the condition may involve:
- A feeling of numbness in a certain area
- An itchy, burning sensation
- Generalized aches
- Hypersensitivity to touch
When shingles is present, even without the rash, sensations will be concentrated in a specific area of the body â commonly the face, neck, one side of the torso or the eyes. However, in the absence of the shingles rash, zoster sine herpete may still rarely lead toneurological and visceral diseases, such as inflammation of the brain , Varizella pneumonia, paralysis of the facial nerves and problems related to keeping oneâs balance or problems with hearing.
Because shingles shares characteristics with many other conditions, including herpes simplex, impetigo, dermatitis herpetiformis and contact dermatitis, it can easily be confused with these conditions. In cases where a rash is not present, a laboratory test will usually be necessary to establish the presence of the varicella zoster virus in the body.
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Ringworm Or Shingles Virus: A Case Of Mistaken Identity
Ringworm is an infectious skin disease that, despite its name, is caused by a fungus, whereas the shingles rash is caused by a virus. Ringworm infection causes red, itchy, scaly patches on your skin, often in several places at once. Sometimes the patches blister and ooze, much like the shingles rash. Ringworm is most common in children, 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.
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Shingles Treatment: Home Remedies
Bathing is generally allowed, and the affected area can be washed with soap and water. Cool compresses and anti-itching lotions such as calamine lotion may also provide relief from symptoms. An aluminum acetate solution can be used to help dry up the blisters and oozing. Application of petroleum jelly can also aid in healing. Over-the-counter antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine and pain medicines can also help provide relief.
Wearing loose clothing can help avoid extra pain from clothing rubbing against the rash. Avoid close skin-to-skin contact with others who have not had chickenpox, are ill, or who have a weakened immune system to avoid spread of the virus. People who do not have immunity to the virus may catch varicella by having direct contact with the lesions. In this way zoster is similar to cold sores, which are caused by a virus in the same family as varicella.
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What Is The Best Treatment For Shingles
The condition of shingles can be suppressed by the use of medications that can control infection, inflammation, pain and improve the healing process. Medical professionals are generally prescribing antiviral drugs like Acyclovir, Famciclovir, and Valacyclovir within the third day of the first occurrence of symptoms.
Other medications such as painkillers , antihistaminic, numbing medicine and tricyclic antidepressant agents are also given to patients suffering from shingles.
To avoid itchy skin reaction, doctors are prescribing calamine lotion to soothe these skin conditions. For severe pain during this condition, capsaicin topical patch, codeine like narcotics, gabapentin like anticonvulsants, injections of corticosteroids and local anesthetics are also advised to people.
Diagnosis Of Shingles & Serious Complications
Shingles must be diagnosed by a medical professional. Your doctor should ask for your medical history and the symptoms you have been experiencing recently. The giveaway for shingles includes pain and itching on one side of the body and fluid-filled blisters or rashes. The majority of the time, your doctor can diagnose you through a visual examination.
Your doctor may also take a skin sample to analyze in a laboratory and confirm shingles. When visiting your doctor with a suspected case of shingles it is helpful to know your medical history, specifically if you have ever received the chickenpox vaccine. This will be helpful for your doctor to diagnose you and begin treatment.
It is crucial to seek medical care right away if you suspect shingles. Although shingles usually clear up with treatment within 3 to 5 weeks, they can cause some more serious complications and health conditions. Specifically, if shingles symptoms develop in or around the eye it can lead to eye damage or blindness.
The most common complication associated with shingles is postherpetic neuralgia . PHN is defined by the National Health Service as âa lasting pain in the areas of your skin where you had shingles.â Approximately 10 to 18 percent of people who have shingles will experience PHN, with a higher likelihood being those older than 40 years. The CDC lists these as rare complications sometimes associated with shingles:
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When To Call A Doctor
- Have a rash or blisters on your face, especially near an eye or on the tip of your nose. This can be a warning of eye problems. Treatment can help prevent permanent eye damage.
- Think you have shingles. Early treatment with antiviral medicines may help reduce pain and prevent complications of shingles, such as disseminated zoster or postherpetic neuralgia .
If you still feel intense pain for more than 1 month after the skin heals, see your doctor to find out if you have PHN. Getting your pain under control right away may prevent nerve damage that may cause pain that lasts for months or years.
Risk Factors Of Shingles
Anyone who has had wild-type varicella zoster virus , also known as chickenpox, is at risk of developing shingles. This also applies to those whove had the varicella vaccination. Your increase for hospitalization due to shingles rises after the age of 50. Its also highly contagious, so be aware if youve interacted with anyone that may have shingles.
Those living with certain conditions that compromise their immune system gave an increased risk of getting shingles. This includes cancer, human immunodeficiency virus , bone marrow or solid organ transplant recipient, and anyone taking immunosuppressive medications.
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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.
Shingles Risks And Pregnancy
Pregnant women are susceptible to shingles. Fortunately, shingles in pregnancy is very rare. The antiviral medications described previously are considered safe to use in pregnant women, as are most pain-relieving drugs. Women should not take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen in the later stages of pregnancy, but acetaminophen is considered safe. Having chickenpox during pregnancy has the potential to cause birth defects, depending upon when in the pregnancy the infection occurs. The risk of birth defects is believed to be lower with shingles than with primary chickenpox infection.
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How Is Internal Shingles Treated
There have been few trial studies that have examined internal shingles or the best treatments for this particular type of shingles. Thats why there are currently no guidelines for treatment. Instead, doctors rely on standard treatment for classic shingles.
Even though shingles is a virus, this is a case where there are antiviral medications available by prescription. Thats why its important to see a doctor right away if you suspect you have shingles. Early treatment may reduce the risk of complications, like PHN. Serious complications require hospitalization.
Common antiviral medications for shingles include:
Depending on the location and severity of shingles, steroids may also help. Anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen and pain-relieving medication such as acetaminophen or other prescription pain medication can help in easing pain experienced from shingles.
People whove had multiple bouts with internal shingles may be
estimated 1 in 3 people in the United States throughout their lifetime, according to the CDC. In certain cases, the virus can cause more severe infections, inflammation, or complications.
Its unclear how many people experience internal shingles, but its a rare condition. However, depending on the organ system affected, it can be life threatening.
They can provide a series of effective ways to manage symptoms and treat the virus. They can also check you to make sure you dont have a more serious complication.
This vaccine is over
How Can I Help Prevent Shingles
The recombinant zoster vaccine vaccine is available to prevent shingles or make it less painful.
Experts recommend the vaccine for all adults 50 and older, even if youve had shingles before. Two doses of the RZV vaccine are recommended. You should get the second RZV dose 2 to 6 months after the first. The vaccine makes it less likely that you will develop shingles. If you do develop shingles, your symptoms will likely be milder than if you hadnt been vaccinated. RZV is also advised even if you had the older shingles vaccine in the past. Thats because the RZV vaccine works better and protects you from shingles longer.
Talk with your healthcare provider about the best time for you to get vaccinated, along with the benefits and side effects.
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What Problems Can Happen
Most cases of shingles heal on their own, with or without treatment, and won’t lead to any other problems. In rare cases, shingles can lead to complications, including:
- Ongoing pain : Damaged nerve fibers in the skin send confused messages to the brain, leading to pain. Pain can go on for a long time after the shingles rash is gone. This is the most common shingles complication.
- Vision problems: Shingles near or in an eye can lead to vision loss.
- Skin infections: A shingles rash can become infected with bacteria, leading to impetigo or cellulitis.
- Nervous system problems: Shingles on the face can involve different nerves that connect to the brain. This can lead to nerve-related problems such as facial paralysis, hearing problems, and problems with balance. In very rare cases, shingles can lead to encephalitis .
Shingles: Not Just A Band Of Blisters
Shingles is a common condition in which the virus that causes chickenpox reactivates after years of lying dormant in your body. As the virus reactivates, it causes pain and tingling and eventually a rash of short-lived blisters.
Shingles normally isnt a serious condition, but in some people the rash can cause an eye infection, explains Jeffery Wheeler, M.D., Mayo Clinic Health System family physician. Vaccines can help reduce the risk of shingles, while early treatment can help shorten a shingles infection and lessen the chance of complications.
One complication is called postherpetic neuralgia, which can cause the skin to remain painful and sensitive to touch for months or years. When identified early, shingles can be treated with prescription medications that help shorten the infection and reduce the risk of complications.
Dr. Wheeler says signs and symptoms of shingles may include:
- A feeling of pain, burning, tingling, itching, numbness or extreme sensitivity in a limited area of your body
- A red rash with fluid-filled blisters that begins a few days after the pain and lasts two to three weeks before scabbing over and healing
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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.
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.
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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, ZostavaxÂ®, has been available since 2006. The second vaccine, ShingrixÂ®, 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.
ShingrixÂ® is given as a two-dose shot in the 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.
Due to high levels of demand for the Shingrix vaccine and a supply shortage, the vaccine manufacturer is managing the timing and distribution of the vaccine throughout the United States. It plans to continue to manage the availability of the vaccine and hopes to make available the same or increased number of doses and to shorten the wait time for delivery this year .
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