Who Is At Risk For Getting Shingles
People who have had chickenpox who are more likely to develop shingles include:
- People with a weakened immune system .
- People over the age of 50.
- People who have been ill.
- People who have experienced trauma.
- People who are under stress.
After having chickenpox, your body does not rid your system of the virus. Instead, the virus stays in a portion of the spinal nerve root called the dorsal root ganglion. For the majority of people, the virus stays there quietly and doesnt cause problems. We arent always sure why the virus gets reactivated, but this typically occurs at times of stress.
Caring For Shingles Rash
As the pustules scab over its important to try to leave the scabs intact as this can cause: bacterial infection to occur, the herpes simplex virus to spread and can also cause the area affected to scar more. This can be difficult to maintain but try to avoid knocking or scratching the scabs as they heal. The rash can take up to four weeks to heal .
Most people will not be left with scarring from the shingles infection, but if you are left with some scars then the marks are usually an angry red or purple colour at first, but this will gradually fade over a number of weeks and months . Usually these marks have faded completely a year after the initial infection and there are some steps you can take to help the process along.
Tips to reduce likelihood of scarring
- Ensure good hygiene and no disruption to the skin surface as it heals
- Protect the area from sunlight, which can darken the pigmentation, by applying high SPF sun creams when exposed to sunlight
- Keep the skin well moisturised by using emollients, oils and creams containing ingredients such as Aloe Vera, Vitamin E, Vitamin C and other natural products .
Unfortunately, however diligent you are in following these steps, some scars may still be left. If the scars are very unsightly you may wish to talk to your GP about whether further treatment could help and what options are available.
Home Remedies For Shingles
Self-care for shingles at home includes:
- applying calamine lotion or other creams to soothe the skin and relieve pain
- cleaning the rash area gently to prevent bacterial infection
- placing cool compresses on blisters to lessen pain and help the blisters heal
- drinking plenty of water and other healthy liquids
- reducing stress as much as possible, such as walking every day and eating nutritious food
- resting, contact your doctor if pain is making it difficult to sleep
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What Does Shingles Feel And Look Like
A viral infection, shingles cause an outbreak of a painful rash that may appear as a band-like rash of fluid-filled blisters along one area of your body. For most patients, the rash is usually on one side of the body, where the nerve is located. Shingles won’t typically spread over your whole body but is localized to that particular nerve distribution.
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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What Are The Risk Factors For Shingles
In the United States, 1 in 3 people will develop shingles in their lifetime, and there are about 1 million cases a year in the country. Older adults who had chickenpox but do not have the shingles vaccine can often have a higher risk of reactivating the varicella-zoster virus and getting shingles.
Other factors that increase your risk include:
- conditions that weaken the immune system, such as HIV, cancer, chemotherapy, or an organ transplant
- weakened or impaired immune system, which also increases the risk for having recurring episodes of shingles
The risk of shingles is usually 10 times greater in adults who are more than 60 years old than in children younger than 10. Much of the increase in shingles risk occurs at around 50 years old.
When To See A Healthcare Provider
Because scabies is so contagious, its important to seek a diagnosis and treatment right away.
Talk to your healthcare provider immediately if you experience scabies symptoms or if someone close to you has been diagnosed with scabies. Your healthcare provider can advise you on how to treat your symptoms and avoid spreading the condition.
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What Are The Stages Of Shingles Symptoms
There are no formal, clinical stages of shingles, but symptoms generally fall into three stages. Beginning to end, shingles can last 24 weeks.
Contact your doctor right away if you have symptoms of shingles. Early treatment with antiviral medication may help lessen the severity, speed recovery time, and lower the potential for complications.
Common Symptoms Of Shingles
The most common symptoms of shingles are:
- sensation of an itching, tingling, or severe burning or shooting pain that precedes a rash
- painful rash in a band or patch-like shape over the affected area
- fluid-filled blisters that eventually dry out, crust over, and heal
Other symptoms may include chills, upset stomach, fever, and headache.
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How To Prevent Shingles: Get Vaccinated
Two vaccines may help prevent the shingles virus: the chickenpox vaccine and the shingles vaccine. The shingles vaccine is approved for adults ages 50 and older and for those 18 and older with weakened immune systems or at increased risk of herpes zoster because of a disease or treatment, according to the CDC.
Per the CDC, talk to your doctor about getting a shingles vaccination if you are 50 or older or if you have the following risk factors:
- You have cancer, especially leukemia or lymphoma.
- You are a bone marrow or solid organ transplant recipient.
- You take immunosuppressive medications, including steroids, chemotherapy, or transplant-related medications.
How Do Dermatologists Diagnose Shingles
A dermatologist can often diagnose shingles by looking at the rash on your skin.
If there is any question about whether you have shingles, your dermatologist will scrape a bit of fluid from a blister. This will be sent to a lab where a doctor will look at the fluid under a high-powered microscope.
When you have shingles, the fluid contains the virus that causes shingles. Seeing the virus confirms that you have shingles.
Your dermatologist will also ask about your symptoms. Shingles tends to be painful.
When the shingles rash spreads to an eye, it can affect your eyesight
You can reduce this risk by seeing an ophthalmologist immediately.
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Have A Rash Go To The Doctor
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 or not you have shingles and can make a treatment plan. If you have a condition that weakens the immune system, the doctor may give you a shingles test. The shingles test can also help doctors diagnose shingles in people who dont have a rash. Although there is no cure for shingles, early treatment with drugs that fight the virus can help the blisters dry up faster and limit severe pain. Shingles can often be treated at home. People with shingles rarely need to stay in a hospital.
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Other Health Problems Due To Shingles
Some people develop other health problems after the shingles rash clears, which include:
Postherpetic neuralgia : This is the most common. Occurring where you had the rash, PHN can cause constant tingling, burning, and pain. For others, the pain comes and goes.
Whether the pain is constant or intermittent, it can go on for a long time. You can have PHN for months, years, or the rest of your life. There is no way to know how long it will last.
The pain caused by PHN can become so severe that it interferes with your life, making everyday activities painful. A musician may no longer be able to play an instrument. Some people cannot walk comfortably. It may be difficult to bathe or get dressed. You may have trouble sleeping.
How to prevent PHN: If you have shingles, you can greatly reduce your risk of PHN by getting treated for shingles within 3 days of developing the rash.
Get treated for shingles within 3 days of developing the rash
Taking antiviral medication within 3 days of getting the shingles rash can: Reduce your risk of developing PHN Ease symptoms of shingles Clear the shingles rash more quickly
Other health problems that can develop after the shingles rash clears include:
Blindness or loss of some eyesight
Although rare, some people die of shingles.
Treatment can prevent these complications.
You can find out if you have a greater risk of developing shingles at, Shingles: Causes.
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
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.
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Measles Rash Looks Like Flat Red Spots
Like the shingles rash and herpes simplex, measles is caused by a virus. Measles is highly contagious. Symptoms of measles typically begin with a high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes, according to the CDC. Three to five days later, a rash that looks like flat red spots appears, normally starting on the face at the hairline and spreading down the body to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. Measles is a very serious disease that can lead to complications and death fortunately, it can be prevented with a measles vaccine.
Can Shingles Cause Chronic Pain
In some people, the pain of shingles may linger for months or even years after the rash has healed. This pain, due to damaged nerves in and beneath the skin, is known as postherpetic neuralgia. Others feel a chronic itch in the area where the rash once was. In severe cases, the pain or itching may be bad enough to cause insomnia, weight loss, or depression.
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Skin: Condition: Infomation To Treat The Pain Of Postherpetic Neuralgia
Using an anaesthetic ointment before applying a topical analgesic cream may help. The lidocaine can be bought over the counter, but the capsaicin cream needs to be prescribed by a doctor. Treatments that are sometimes also used include antidepressants and anticonvulsant tablets, as well as pain killers, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
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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The Shingles Vaccine Can Prevent Shingles
The best way to prevent shingles is to get the shingles vaccine, known as Shingrix.
Regardless of your age, its important to see a healthcare professional right away if you develop symptoms of shingles. Antiviral drugs can help reduce the severity and duration of illness as well as lower your risk of complications.
Seeking timely medical attention is particularly important if you have:
- severe symptoms
- shingles that affect a large area of skin
- shingles around the area of your eyes, ears, or face
- a weakened immune system
Antiviral drugs are most effective when started within 72 hours after the rash begins. Because of this, dont hesitate to seek care if you suspect that you have shingles.
If Ive Been Vaccinated For Chickenpox Can I Still Develop Shingles Later In Life
Unfortunately, yes, despite being vaccinated for chickenpox, you can still get shingles. No vaccine is 100% protective and the effects of vaccines lessen with time. However, people who get the chickenpox vaccine are significantly less likely to develop shingles later in life compared with people who never received the chickenpox vaccine. One recent 12-year study found that the number of shingles cases was 72% lower in children who had received the chickenpox vaccine compared with those who did not.
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What Is Shingles And What Causes It
The varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox is the same virus that causes shingles. When you’ve had chickenpox as a child or teenager, the physical signs disappear as your body fights off the virus. However, the virus always remains in your body and can reactivate as you age.
For some, the virus stays in the body quietly in a portion of your spinal nerve root called the dorsal root ganglion. For others, the virus can become reactivated and develop into shingles.
Should I Get The Shingles Vaccine
“Because the vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of developing herpes zoster and shingles complications, getting the vaccine is highly recommended,” says Dr. Mohring. “I strongly recommend it for all patients 50 years or older and those who are immunocompromised. It’s safe and effective and reduces severity if you have a breakthrough episode.”
The Shingrix vaccine is a two-dose series given two to six months apart. It’s been shown to be over 90% effective in preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia and remains over 85% effective for at least four years afterward. You will not get shingles from this vaccine, and it is generally safe for those with weakened immune systems.
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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 havent had chickenpox before.
Is That Rash From Chicken Pox Cases Still Crop Up
Chicken pox, also called varicella, is a highly contagious disease that mainly strikes children. In the early stages of chicken pox, youll see fever, fatigue, loss of appetite and headache. A day or two later the disease causes an itchy rash with blisters.
If you ask most adults if theyve had chicken pox, theyll share a story about how the disease spread through their elementary school classroom and their family. They may remember missing a week or more of school, staying home and struggling not to scratch their itchy blisters.
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Contact Dermatitis Can Cause A Rash And Blisters
Contact dermatitis can also cause a rash, blisters, itching, and burning, per the ACAAI. It occurs when the skin comes into contact with an irritant or an allergen, such as soaps, laundry detergents, shampoos, metals, medications, and more. Allergens like poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac can cause red, itchy rashes that may include blisters. Treatment can offer relief and aid healing.
Tingling Pain Or Numbness
During the first stage of shingles, before anything appears on your skin, a particular area of your body may begin to feel different. When a shingles outbreak is starting, you may feel itching, burning, or pain, Kim says. Often you will feel this on only one side of your body.
The initial signs of shingles may feel different for each person. In some cases, shingles can cause intense sensitivity, making it painful to even wear clothes over your skin, while in other cases, your skin may feel numb.
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Check If You Have Shingles
The first signs of shingles can be:
- a tingling or painful feeling in an area of skin
- a headache or feeling generally unwell
A rash will appear a few days later.
Usually you get the shingles rash on your chest and tummy, but it can appear anywhere on your body including on your face, eyes and genitals.
The rash appears as blotches on your skin, on 1 side of your body only. A rash on both the left and right of your body is unlikely to be shingles.