Wednesday, July 17, 2024

What Do I Need To Know About Shingles

How Do You Get Shingles

Shingles: What you need to know about causes, symptoms, and prevention.

It is not currently understood why some people who carry the VZV virus go on to develop shingles while others do not. However, there are certain risk factors which are thought to increase a persons chances of getting the disease.

For instance, the overall risk that you will develop shingles increases with age, as around 50 percent of cases occur in people who are 60 or older. People over 70 years old are by far the most likely to be affected.

Any health condition or medication which can compromise or reduce natural immunity may increase a persons risk of getting shingles. This is because the bodys own immune system is what keeps the dormant VZV virus in check.

The following may compromise immunity and leave you more likely to develop shingles:

  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Anti-rejection drugs, such as those given after organ transplants

You cannot catch shingles from someone who has shingles. However, you can catch chickenpox. If you are suffering with shingles and know somebody who has not had chickenpox yet, it is best to avoid contact with them as much as possible.

What Is Brain Damage

Brain damage involves the destruction or deterioration of a persons brain cells.5

Most Zostavax cases involving brain damage pertain to acquired brain injuries. These injuries are associated with pressure on the brain and may result from a neurological illness .6

Symptoms of brain damage can include:

  • difficulty processing information,
  • sensory problems, and
  • bladder or bowel dysfunction.10

Treatment typically involves medications and rehabilitative therapy. Most people that suffer from the condition recover at least partially. Severe cases of myelitis can lead to major disabilities.11

Urgent Advice: Get Advice From 111 As Soon As You Suspect Shingles

You might need medicine to help speed up your recovery and avoid longer-lasting problems.

This works best if taken within 3 days of your symptoms starting.

111 will tell you what to do. They can arrange a phone call from a nurse or doctor if you need one.

Go to or .

Get an urgent GP appointment

A GP may be able to treat you.

Ask your GP surgery for an urgent appointment.

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How Is Shingles Diagnosed

Your healthcare provider will do a complete physical exam and ask about your medical history, specifically about whether you have ever had chickenpox.

Your healthcare provider will likely know right away that it is shingles based on the unique rash. The rash usually appears one area on one side of the body or face. It appears as red spots, small fluid- or pus-filled vesicles, or scabs.

The healthcare provider may also take skin scrapings for testing.

Other Complications Some Severe Include:

Shingles and Shingrix, Everything People Need to Know
  • Bacterial infection of the rash
  • Herpes zoster ophthalmicus causes eye problems when shingles is severe on the face, near the eyes, impacting sight. When very severe, blindness can occur
  • Ramsay Hunt syndrome causes problems within the ear’s auditory canal or external parts. It is accompanied by ear pain, internal or external blisters, and one-sided facial paralysis

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What You Need To Know About Shingles

If you had chickenpox in your childhood, you probably thought youve already seen the worst of it. After all, once someone has had chickenpox, a condition caused by the varicella-zoster virus, they will not get chickenpox again.

But now for the sobering fact: if you had chickenpox, you can also get shingles. This is because the chickenpox and shingles are caused by the same varicella virus. Although you may have recovered from chickenpox 60 years ago, the virus always remains dormant in the nervous system and can resurface later in life as shingles.

Whos Most At Risk Of Shingles

People tend to get shingles more often as they get older, especially over the age of 70. And the older you are, the worse it can be. The shingles rash can be extremely painful, such that sufferers cannot even bear the feeling of their clothes touching the affected skin.

The pain of shingles can also linger long after the rash has disappeared, even for many years. This lingering pain is called post-herpetic neuralgia .

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Can You Get Shingles After Youve Been Vaccinated

While the shingles vaccine is highly effective, some people can still get shingles. However, people who do get shingles after getting the shingles vaccine usually have milder symptoms and a shorter illness. Youll also be less likely to have complications from shingles, including postherpetic neuralgia.

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Should I Get A Shingles Vaccine

Shingles: What You Should Know | Johns Hopkins Medicine

The CDC recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older get two doses of the shingles vaccine called Shingrix. Adults 19 years and older who have weakened immune systems due to disease or therapy should also get vaccinated. Schindler said Shingrix is highly effective in preventing shingles and the long-term pain after the rash has healed. In fact, according to the CDC, Shingrix is more than 90% effective at preventing shingles.

Even if you have previously had the shingles or have received the Zostavax vaccine* or the chickenpox vaccine, you should talk with your healthcare provider about getting the Shingrix vaccine.

If youre concerned you may have shingles, early treatment is critical, so consult a physician immediately.

*: The vaccine content of this blog was updated on May 3, 2022. NOTE: The shingles vaccine called zoster vaccine live is no longer available in the U.S. as of November 18, 2020.

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What Are The Advantages Of Getting The Shingles Vaccine

The shingles vaccine reduces your risk of getting shingles. Shingles causes a painful rash that usually develops on one side of your body or face. Some people describe the pain as an intense burning or shooting sensation. The rash is often a single strip that wraps around one side of your body or is on one side of your face. It consists of blisters that normally crust over in seven to 10 days. The rash generally clears up within a month.

Some people with shingles also experience additional symptoms including fever, headache, chills or upset stomach.

For some people, the pain from the rash can last for months or even years after the rash goes away. This long-term pain is called postherpetic neuralgia , and it is the most common complication of shingles.

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Shingles Symptoms: What Should I Look Out For

The first symptoms of shingles tend to be itching, tingling, burning or pain, followed by a rash a few days later. A clue that its shingles, and not something else, is shingles almost always presents on just one side of the body. In addition to these symptoms affecting the skin, some people also experience fever, chills, upset stomach or headaches, although as Schindler noted, fewer than 20% of those who develop shingles experience these non-skin symptoms.”

Once the rash appears, it usually consists of clustered red bumps that may form into blisters and ooze fluid. After 1-2 weeks, the blisters begin to heal and form scabs, but pain may persist at the site of the rash long after the skin has healed.

Because shingles is a reactivation of the chickenpox virus, anyone who has had chickenpox is a candidate for shingles, even children, said Schindler. And varicella zoster virus , the virus that causes shingles, can be spread from a person with active shingles to others and cause chickenpox in those who have not had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine, according to the CDC.

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Do You Always Get The Typical Rash If You Have Shingles

Occasionally, some people dont get a rash. If you have any of the other symptoms of shingles , see your healthcare provider sooner rather than later. There are effective treatments you can take early for shingles. Even if you dont have shingles, seeing your healthcare provider will help you get your condition diagnosed and treated.

Is The Zostavax Vaccine Still Being Used

BARDOLINE Pro Shingles

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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What Can I Do To Help Prevent Shingles Or A Shingles Outbreak

  • A vaccine may be given to help prevent shingles. You can get the vaccine even if you already had shingles. The vaccine comes in 2 forms. A 2-dose vaccine is usually given to adults 50 years or older. A 1-dose vaccine may be given to adults 60 years or older.
  • The vaccine can help prevent a future outbreak. If you do get shingles again, the vaccine can keep it from becoming severe. Ask your healthcare provider about other vaccines you may need.

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.

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Shingles Can Be Treated

That said, shingles treatment options can shorten the length of the disease and alleviate its symptoms for greater comfort. Doctors will often prescribe antiviral medications to help your immune system fight back. The most common antiviral drugs for shingles are Famciclovir , Acyclovir , and Valacyclovir .

Your doctor may also recommend drugs to reduce pain and feelings of discomfort or depression, such as:

  • Medicated lotions and numbing creams
  • Over-the-counter painkillers
  • Prescription painkillers

For Older Adults: Shingles Vaccine

All about shingles

A different vaccine, the herpes zoster vaccine, is available for people aged 50 and older who have had chickenpox and therefore carry VZV. Experts also recommend this vaccine for those who have not had chickenpox or shingles.

In the U.S., of people born before 1980 already have this virus in their system. The herpes zoster vaccine can help prevent shingles in people who already have the virus.

The options available are Zostavax and a newer vaccine called Shingrix.

After two doses of Shingrix, a person will have more than 90% protection against shingles, falling to just above 85% after 4 years, according to the CDC.

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Who Is At Risk

If you’ve had chickenpox, you are more susceptible as you age. About 50% of people who live to age 85 will have had some shingles event in their lives. Shingles can develop for a variety of reasons, especially for those:

  • Over the age of 50, with increasing risk with each decade
  • With a weakened immune system, such as those with cancer, HIV, transplant recipients, or patients receiving chemotherapy
  • With an autoimmune disease
  • Who may have a weakened immune system due to trauma or illness

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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You Cannot Get Shingles From Someone With Chickenpox

You cannot get shingles from someone with shingles or chickenpox.

But you can get chickenpox from someone with shingles if you have not had chickenpox before.

When people get chickenpox, the virus remains in the body. It can be reactivated later and cause shingles if someone’s immune system is lowered.

This can be because of stress, certain conditions, or treatments like chemotherapy.

How Do I Know If I Have The Shingles And What Should I Do

Supreme® Shingles

Shingles is a reactivated virus which often causes pain and skin lesions, says Asfana Alam, DO, MPH, a family medicine doctor at NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group Hudson Valley. The rash usually presents on one side of the body with an eruption of little blisters called vesicles, which causes fever and inflammation.

Symptoms include:

If shingles is caught earlywithin the first 72 hours of the rash, we can treat it with anti-viral medication, says Dr. Alam. Without treatment, the rash usually goes away within two weeks. But, some people develop a condition called called postherpetic neuralgia a persistent pain in the area of the rash even after it has cleared up which can last for months and, in rare cases, years, Dr. Alam says.

Shingles can only be spread to someone who never had chickenpox and it actually causes chickenpox, not shingles. However, the only way it is spread is through direct contact with the fluid from the blistery rashes.

Fortunately, medications are available that can both shorten the duration of the rash and decrease the likelihood of postherpetic neuralgia if given quickly.

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What Can Be Done To Prevent The Spread Of Shingles

A vaccine for chickenpox is available and it is hoped that individuals immunized against chickenpox will be less likely to develop shingles in later life.

The risk of spreading the virus that causes shingles is low if the rash is covered. People with shingles should keep the rash covered, not touch or scratch the rash, and wash their hands often to prevent the spread of shingles. Once the rash has developed crusts, the person is no longer contagious.

What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles

Early symptoms of shingles may include:

Other signs and symptoms that appear a few days after the early symptoms include:

  • An itching, tingling or burning feeling in an area of your skin.
  • Redness on your skin in the affected area.
  • Raised rash in a small area of your skin.
  • Fluid-filled blisters that break open then scab over.
  • Mild to severe pain in the area of skin affected.

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When To Seek Medical Advice

Shingles is not usually serious, but you should see your GP as soon as possible if you recognise the symptoms. Early treatment may help reduce the severity of your symptoms and the risk of developing complications.

You should also see your GP if you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system and you think you have been exposed to someone with chickenpox or shingles and haven’t had chickenpox before.

Preventing The Virus Spreading

What You Should Know About Shingles Vaccines | Johns Hopkins Medicine

If you have the shingles rash, do not share towels or flannels, go swimming, or play contact sports. This will help prevent the virus being passed on to someone who has not had chickenpox.

You should also avoid work or school if your rash is weeping and cannot be covered.

Chickenpox can be particularly dangerous for certain groups of people. If you have shingles, avoid:

  • women who are pregnant and have not had chickenpox before as they could catch it from you, which may harm their unborn baby
  • people who have a weak immune system, such as someone with HIV or AIDS
  • babies less than one month old, unless it is your own baby, in which case your baby should have antibodies to protect them from the virus

Once your blisters have dried and scabbed over, you are no longer contagious and will not need to avoid anyone.

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms

You may have shingles if you have skin blisters, pain or a burning sensation. Johns Hopkins Medicine says patients should seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

Usually, patients will see a rash develop within a day or two of feeling the pain. That rash most commonly affects the scalp, neck, shoulders and chest wall, Johns Hopkins Medicine says.

Between 10 and 18 percent of patients, especially those who are older, may see some long-term nerve pain as a result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How Can I Catch It

Bad news if you had the chickenpox as a kid — the varicella-zoster virus is still inside your body. As you get older, your immune system loses its ability to fight off the virus. That makes it more likely to flare up the older you get.

Johns Hopkins Medicine said other major health events, including stress, could prompt a flare-up of shingles.

A 2020 study found people who had had a stroke had a higher risk of getting shingles.

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For Children: Chickenpox Vaccine

recommend routine immunization with the varicella vaccine during childhood.

With two doses of the vaccine, there is at least a 90% chance of preventing chickenpox. Preventing chickenpox will also prevent shingles.

Children should receive the first dose at . The second dose is at 46 years.

Tests have shown the vaccine to be safe, though some children may experience:

  • pain at the injection site
  • a fever and a mild rash
  • temporary joint pain and stiffness

Since vaccination started in children, the number of shingles cases has

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