What Should You Expect If You 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 end symptoms earlier.
A better approach to shingles is to take action and do what you can to lessen your risk of getting it. If you’ve never had shingles 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.
When Should You Call Your Doctor
If you think you have shingles, see a doctor as soon as possible. Early treatment with antiviral medicines may help reduce pain and prevent complications of shingles, such as disseminated zoster or postherpetic neuralgia.
A rash or blisters on your face, especially near an eye or on the tip of your nose, can be a warning of eye problems. Treatment can help prevent permanent eye damage.
If you still feel intense pain for more than 1 month after the skin heals, see your doctor to find out whether you have postherpetic neuralgia . Getting your pain under control right away may prevent nerve damage that may cause pain that lasts for months or years.
If You Have More Than One Area Of Blisters What Can You Expect If You Go To The Hospital
Its important to note that most people with shingles dont need to be in a hospital, but if you do:
- Youll be in a contact isolation room.
- The door will be kept closed.
- A sign on your door will remind people who have never had chickenpox or the vaccine not to enter.
- The sign will also remind staff to wear gowns and gloves when entering the room.
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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.
S Of The Shingles Rash
If you have a rash of blisters on your skin or a rash that looks like any shown below, see your doctor immediately for a diagnosis. If you have shingles, its important to get treatment, preferably within 2 to 3 days.
If youve had the rash for longer than 2 to 3 days, its still important to see your doctor.
A typical shingles rash
Doctors often refer to this rash as the shingles band because it looks like a band that appears on one area of your body, as shown here.
A rash on one side of the body
A key that you have shingles is that the rash only develops on one side of your body.
Close-up of a shingles rash
The shingles rash often causes a cluster of tiny blisters. You may notice that the skin beneath the blisters is red and inflamed, as shown here.
The rash will also feel painful.
Blistering shingles rash on a mans chest
Although the rash can begin in one area, you may notice that a few scattered blisters develop in other areas, as shown here.
Shingles rash on the palm of a mans hand
While shingles tends to develop on your body or face, it can appear anywhere on your skin.
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How Is Shingles Treated
Treatment is most effective when initiated within 72 hours of the appearance of the rash. Antiviral drugs can help recover faster and reduce the risk of complications.
Shingles rash and blisters can cause severe pain and may not reduce with over-the-counter pain medication. Treatment of pain includes:
- Antiseizure medicines
- Over-the-counter pain killers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
- Prescription painkillers such as codeine for intense pain
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.
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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 Shingles Last
Shingles blisters usually scab over in 7-10 days and disappear completely in two to four weeks. In most healthy people, the blisters leave no scars, and the pain and itching go away after a few weeks or months. But people with weakened immune systems may develop shingles blisters that do not heal in a timely manner.
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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 .
How Long Will The Effects Last
The rash from shingles will heal in 1 to 3 weeks and the pain or irritation will usually go away in 3 to 5 weeks. When shingles occurs on the head or scalp, the symptoms usually go away eventually, but it may take many months.
If the virus damages a nerve, you may have pain, numbness, or tingling for months or even years after the rash is healed. This is called postherpetic neuralgia. This chronic condition is most likely to occur after a shingles outbreak in people over 50 years old. Taking antiviral medicine as soon as the shingles is diagnosed may help prevent this problem.
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Who Is At Risk For Shingles
About 1 in 3 Americans will develop shingles in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Cases are more common in older adults, but doctors say even children get shingles.
Shingles is caused by varicella zoster virus , the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in their body. The virus can reactivate later, causing shingles.
“Not everyone who had chickenpox will develop shingles,” Wigand-Bolling noted.
Two other things to keep in mind: You cannot get shingles from someone who has shingles, the CDC says. However, you can get chickenpox from someone who has shingles if you’ve never had chickenpox or never received the chickenpox vaccine.
Who Should Not Be Vaccinated With Shingrix
You shouldnt receive the Shingrix vaccine if you:
- Have ever had a severe allergy to this vaccine or any ingredient in this vaccine.
- Are breastfeeding or pregnant.
- Currently have shingles.
- Are ill and have a high fever.
- Have tested negative for immunity to varicella-zoster virus .
Ask your healthcare provider if the benefits of getting the vaccine outweigh any potential risks.
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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.
Are There Any Long
Very rarely, shingles can lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation or death. For about 1 person in 5, severe pain can continue even after the rash clears up. This pain is called post-herpetic neuralgia. As people get older, they are more likely to develop post-herpetic neuralgia, and it is more likely to be severe.
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Who Should Get Shingrix
Adults 50 years and older should get two doses of Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months. Adults 19 years and older who have or will have weakened immune systems because of disease or therapy should also get two doses of Shingrix. If needed, people with weakened immune systems can get the second dose 1 to 2 months after the first.
You should get Shingrix even if in the past you:
- Received varicella vaccine
There is no maximum age for getting Shingrix.
If you had shingles in the past, Shingrix can help prevent future occurrences of the disease. There is no specific length of time that you need to wait after having shingles before you can receive Shingrix, but generally you should make sure the shingles rash has gone away before getting vaccinated.
Chickenpox and shingles are related because they are caused by the same virus . After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus stays dormant in the body. It can reactivate years later and cause shingles.
Shingrix is available in doctors offices and pharmacies.
If you have questions about Shingrix, talk with your healthcare provider.
* A shingles vaccine called zoster vaccine live is no longer available for use in the United States, as of November 18, 2020. If you had Zostavax in the past, you should still get Shingrix. Talk to your healthcare provider to determine the best time to get Shingrix.
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.
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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.
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.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Shingles
Shingles causes a painful, blistering rash on your skin. If you get shingles, you may notice the following:
Before the rash appears: For 1 to 2 days before the rash appears, you may have pain, burning, or tingling on an area of skin where the rash will develop. Some people say they felt an electrical sensation on their skin before getting the rash.
Rash appears: A painful, blistering rash appears. It usually appears on one side of your body, often on the torso however, it can appear anywhere on your skin. Some people get more blisters after the rash appears, so it can seem that the rash is spreading.
Rash starts to clear: As the rash clears, the blisters may crack open, bleed, and scab over. For most people, the rash will clear within 2 to 4 weeks.
Although the rash will clear on its own, treatment is important. Taking medication within 3 days of getting the shingles rash can:
Reduce your risk of developing other health problems, such as long-lasting nerve pain, pneumonia, or hearing loss
Shingles rash on the face
If you have a shingles rash on your face, immediately seeing a doctor for treatment could save your eyesight.
Early Signs And Symptoms Of Shingles
Quick intervention can reduce duration and severity of shingles.
Shingles is a viral infection most often associated with and diagnosed by the appearance of a red, blistering rash that typically appears as a band along 1 side of the torso. Like many illnesses, however, there are precursor signs and symptoms that if recognized and treated early can lead to a shorter course of infection, less discomfort, and fewer complications.
The varicella zoster virus that causes shingles is the same virus that causes chickenpox and then lays inactive in the body for years or decades before reactivating. When it does, the first pre-rash sign of shingles is typically pain that may be stabbing and intense. It can manifest as steadily worsening burning, numbness, or tingling sensations in a limited area on the skin.
Other early symptoms include hypersensitivity to touch and itching. Additionally, patients may complain of fatigue, muscle ache, nausea, chills, headaches, fever, and a general overall feeling of unwellness.
It is important to note that in some rare cases people with shingles do not experience a visible rash. This is known as zoster sine herpete, and 1 example is enteric zoster. The shingles rash can also emerge on parts of the body other than the torso, including the eyes and ears.
When it comes to shingles, prevention by vaccination is always better than treatment after the fact. Currently there are 2 vaccination options available.
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.
Shingles Rash On One Side Of The Body
If you have the rash on one side of the body when shingles first starts, then you may be asymptomatic. In fact, most people with the disease only develop one side. The rash is a cluster of fluid-filled blisters that appear in the band that runs around the waist. The Latin word shingles means belt. It may also appear on other parts of the body, such as the face and torso.
Shingles is a common viral infection that affects people of all ages, although it is more common in adults 50 and older. A weakened immune system can also trigger an outbreak. However, this virus does not cause an outbreak in someone else, unless that person has chickenpox. People with shingles are susceptible to the chickenpox virus because they have chickenpox, but it can also occur in people who have never had it.
People with shingles will often experience tingling, burning, or both in the affected area. Pain may range from mild to severe, and may be present for several days before the rash appears. This pain may interfere with daily activities and may persist for weeks after the rash has disappeared. The rash will generally fade on its own after three to four weeks, though some patients experience prolonged pain.
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