Is The Shingles Rash Dangerous
The shingles rash doesnt usually cause any long-term damage to your body. However, if your rash develops on your face or ears, it can cause long-term issues Ill explain the full risks in the section below.
No matter how minor your case of shingles you should still go see your doctor to get treatment for your shingles. Theyâll likely provide you with medication to ease your pain and help fight the virus.
What Specialists Treat Shingles
Primary care physicians, including internal medicine specialists, family medicine specialists and/or specialists in infectious diseases, can appropriately treat some patients. An emergency medicine physician may start the initial care. However, if there is a chance the eye may be involved, an ophthalmologist should be consulted. If a person is pregnant and gets shingles, they should consult with their ob-gyn physician immediately. For long-term or chronic pain involved in postherpetic neuralgia, a neurologist and/or pain specialists may be involved in the care of the patient.
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.
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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 , and 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.
What Does The Shingles Rash Look Like
The varicella zoster virus which causes shingles lies dormant in the nervous system, so the rash will appear in a dermatomal pattern a band or area of skin on the body corresponding to a particular set of nerves. The shingles rash usually appears on the face, neck or one side of the torso.
Good to know: If the relevant nerves are affected, it is also possible to experience shingles on the leg. It is relatively unusual, but also possible, to develop the shingles rash in more than one area of the body, i.e. in relation to more than one set of nerves. Even more rarely and especially in people with a compromised immune system, three or more dermatomes may be affected. This is a form of the condition known as disseminated zoster.
As the condition progresses, the rash site develops blisters which fill with clear fluid. Because shingles interacts with a personÃ¢s nervous system, the rash is often accompanied by an intense, stabbing pain which worsens as it develops. The area affected by the rash may be hypersensitive to touch, which can render it difficult to dress or to sleep in certain positions.
A person with shingles is contagious to others in the period when their rash is blistering. During this period, a person should avoid physical contact with others, in particular, certain population groups, including:
- People with a weakened immune system
- People who have not had chickenpox in the past
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Am I Contagious If I Have Shingles
Shingles cannot be passed from one person to another. But someone who has never had chickenpox can contract VZV from a person with active shingles. They would then develop chickenpox, not shingles.
Only direct contact with fluid from shingles blisters can transmit the virus. Keep shingles blisters covered with a fluid absorbent dressing to prevent others from contracting the virus.
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
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Does Shingles Spread If You Scratch It
Myth: Shingles isnt contagious
The virus is spread not by sneezing, coughing, or causal contact, but by direct contact with the fluid from blisters caused by the rash that characterizes shingles. If you have shingles, keep the rash covered and do not touch or scratch. Wash your hands often.
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:
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What Is Shingles What Does Shingles Look Like
Shingle is a disease characterized by a painful, blistering skin rash that affects one side of the body, typically the face or torso. This condition may also be referred to as herpes zoster, zoster, or zona. The word shingles comes from the Latin word cingulum, which means belt. There are approximately 1 million estimated new cases per year in the U.S., with almost one out of every three people developing shingles at some point in their lifetime. Though most people who develop shingles will only have a single episode, there are some who develop recurrent cases of shingles. Shingles are more common in older individuals and in those with weakened immune systems.
The characteristic rash of shingles typically appears after an initial period of burning, tingling, itching, or stinging in the affected area. After a few days, the rash then appears in a stripe or band-like pattern along a nerve path , affecting only one side of the body without crossing the midline. The rash erupts as clusters of small red patches that develop into blisters, which may appear similar to chickenpox. The blisters then break open and slowly begin to dry and eventually crust over.
How Do You Prevent Shingles
You can lower your risk of shingles and its complications by getting vaccinated for shingles. The shingles vaccine Shingrix is approved for people ages 50 and older and for people 18 years and older whose immune system is weakened or compromised by a medical condition or immune-suppressing medications .
Shingrix is 97% effective in preventing shingles in people ages 50 to 69 years and 91% effective in the 70 and older age group. The vaccine also reduces the risk of severe shingles and complications of shingles in all adults.
You can reduce your risk of chickenpox and subsequent development of shingles by avoiding exposure to a person with chickenpox and by getting vaccinated for these diseases as recommended by your healthcare provider.
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Outlook For People With Shingles In The Eye
Your shingles rash should heal within one to three weeks. Symptoms around your face and eyes can sometimes take up to a few months to heal.
In the early stages of the disease, your doctor will check you every few days. After youve received treatment for the infection, youll probably need to see your eye doctor every 3 to 12 months to check for glaucoma, scarring, and other long-term problems that can affect your vision.
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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.
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Im Pregnant And Have Recently Been Exposed To Someone With Chickenpox How Will This Exposure Affect Me Or My Pregnancy
- Susceptible pregnant women are at risk for associated complications when they contract varicella. Varicella infection causes severe illness in pregnant women, and 10%-20% of those infected develop varicella pneumonia, with mortality reported as high as 40%.
- Because of these risks, pregnant women without evidence of immunity to varicella who have been exposed to the virus may be given varicella-zoster immune globulin to reduce their risk of disease complications.
- If you are pregnant and have never had chickenpox, and you get chickenpox during the:
- First half of your pregnancy, there is a very slight risk for birth defects or miscarriage.
- Second half of your pregnancy, the baby may have infection without having any symptoms and then get shingles later in life.
- Newborns whose mothers develop varicella rash from 5 days before to 2 days after delivery are at risk for neonatal varicella, associated with mortality as high as 30%. These infants should receive preventive treatment with varicella-zoster immune globulin .
Shingles On The Face: Symptoms Treatments And More
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Shingles on the face
Shingles, or zoster, is a common infection that occurs due to a herpes virus.
Shingles is a rash that usually appears on one side of the chest and back. It can also develop on one side of the face and around the eye.
The condition can be very painful and can sometimes have long-term side effects. No cure for shingles is available, but early treatment can lower your risk of serious complications.
second most common rash site is the face. It can spread from the ear to the nose and forehead. It can also spread around one eye, which can cause redness and swelling of the eye and surrounding area. The shingles rash occasionally develops in the mouth.
Many people feel a tingling or burning sensation days before the first red bumps appear.
The rash starts out as blisters filled with fluid, or lesions. Some people have a few clusters of blisters scattered about, and others have so many that it looks like a burn. The blisters eventually break, ooze, and crust over. After a few days, the scabs start to fall off.
Other symptoms of shingles are:
Will Shingles Go Away On Its Own
Shingles isnt life-threatening, but it can be incredibly painful and, in some cases, complications can arise. While this rash typically goes away its own, prompt treatment can reduce your pain and help shingles go away faster.
Several antivirals can be used to treat shingles. These drugs can help you heal more quickly and reduce your pain, but they are most effective when started within 72 hours of your rash appearing. This means its important to see your doctor as soon as you suspect shingles, says Dr. Brown. When it comes to the pain associated with shingles, most people are able to manage it using over-the-counter pain relievers. But, pain can be severe for some people. In these cases, your doctor can prescribe stronger pain medications.
Beyond treating your immediate pain and rash, seeing your doctor is also important since serious complications can occur as a result of shingles, such as:
- Postherpetic neuralgia pain that lasts for months to years after the rash clears, with this pain being debilitating in some cases
- Skin infection occurs if the open sores of your rash become infected with bacteria, which can require antibiotics and delay healing
- Vision problems while rare, if your rash develops near your eye, the associated inflammation can damage your retina and, in some cases, result in vision loss
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.
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Shingles Affects The Spine
If shingles affects the spine, the most effective treatment is early and continuous pain control. A primary care doctor or emergency room doctor will likely start with an antiviral medication and light analgesics. If these dont control pain, a doctor specializing in pain management can help. Pain specialists are trained to treat postherpetic neuralgia, a common symptom that lasts months after shingles first starts.
People with a weakened immune system are at higher risk for shingles. The virus is kept in check by the bodys immune system, but increased stress allows it to multiply. The virus then moves along the nerve to the skin and produces painful blisters. The blisters are prone to spreading the virus to the next person infected. Because of this, individuals who are already suffering from shingles should avoid contacting unvaccinated people.
Herpes zoster can affect the spine at any time, but it usually starts in a specific area. It usually follows the nerve root from the spine, which is called the dermatome. This nerve innervates the spine and the face. If the infection spreads to the spinal cord, it can cause a stroke. If shingles is severe in the face, it can even spread to the brain.
Chickenpox Is Caused By The Same Virus
The same virus, varicella zoster virus, causes both chickenpox and shingles.
Chickenpox typically causes an itchy rash that spreads over the entire body, as opposed to just one side of the body or face like shingles. More than 99 percent of Americans born on or before 1980 have had chickenpox, per the CDC. If you dont know if you had chickenpox, check with your family doctor, who can review your records.
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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What Causes Chickenpox
Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus . This virus also can cause a painful skin rash called shingles later in life. After someone has had chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in the nervous system for the rest of their life. The virus can reactivate later as shingles.
Kids who are vaccinated against chickenpox are much less likely to develop shingles when they get older.
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What Is The Outlook
If you have a particularly severe case of shingles, it could take months to go away. It can also become a long-term problem for some people. If you have postherpetic neuralgia, you may need to see your doctor more often.
Complications that involve the eye or ear may require ongoing care, especially if you have lingering vision or hearing problems.
Most people have shingles only once, but it can recur. This is more likely to happen if you have a weakened immune system.
If you havent had any major complications, your symptoms should clear up within a matter of weeks with few, if any, lasting effects.