Symptoms Of Shingles In The Eye
When you have shingles in the eye, the blistering rash will form on your eyelids, forehead, and possibly on the tip or side of your nose. This rash might show up at the same time as the skin rash, or weeks after the skin blisters have gone away. Some people only have symptoms in their eye.
Along with the rash, you might have:
- burning or throbbing pain in your eye
- redness around and in the eye
You might also have swelling in parts of your eye, such as:
- your retina, which is the light-sensitive layer in the back of your eye
- your cornea, which is the clear layer in the front of your eye
If you have one or more of these symptoms, call your primary care doctor or an eye doctor for an appointment. The sooner you get treatment, the less likely it is that youll have long-term complications.
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.
Appearance On Black And Brown Skin
Many images of the shingles rash show how it appears on white skin. These images typically display a patch of skin thats very red and inflamed. This is called erythema and is due to the dilation of blood vessels in the skin.
While erythema can happen in all people, its effects can be harder to see on black and brown skin. Because of this, it can be hard to identify some types of skin conditions.
The shingles rash generally has a very distinct appearance and co-occurring symptoms. In fact, medical students in the study above identified shingles correctly at a similar rate for skin or color and for white skin.
Nevertheless, its important to be able to recognize the signs of shingles on black and brown skin. This is because when identified and treated early, the duration and severity of shingles can be reduced. Well describe what to look out for below.
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Complications Of Shingles: Ramsay Hunt Syndrome & Bacterial Skin Infection
- Ramsay Hunt syndrome: If shingles affect the nerves of the face, this uncommon complication can lead to facial muscle paralysis, and the characteristic rash can affect the ear and the ear canal, and rarely the mouth. Symptoms may include ear pain, ringing in the ears, hearing loss, and dizziness. Though most people recover fully with treatment, some individuals may have permanent facial weakness and/or hearing loss.
- Bacterial skin infection: A secondary bacterial infection of the skin blisters can sometimes develop, leading to cellulitis or impetigo. These skin infections may be characterized by increasing redness, tenderness, and warmth in and around the area of the rash. Most of these bacterial skin infections are caused by either Staphylococcus aureus or group A Streptococcus bacteria. These bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics.
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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What Is The Prognosis Of Shingles
Generally speaking, shingles typically resolves within two to four weeks in most individuals. The prognosis is excellent for younger and healthy individuals who develop shingles, with very few experiencing any complications. However, in older individuals and in those with compromised immune systems, the prognosis is more guarded, as complications and more severe outbreaks of shingles occur more commonly in these groups.
Approximately 1%-4% of people who develop shingles require hospitalization for complications, and about 30% of those hospitalized have impaired immune systems. In the U.S., it is estimated that there are approximately 96 deaths per year directly related to the varicella-zoster virus, the vast majority of which occur in the elderly and in those who are immunocompromised.
Home Care For Shingles
Colloidal oatmeal baths are an old standby for relieving the itch of chickenpox and can help with shingles, as well. To speed up the drying out of the blisters, try placing a cool, damp washcloth on the rash If your doctor gives you the green light, stay active while recovering from shingles. Gentle exercise or a favorite activity may help keep your mind off the discomfort.
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What Causes Shingles And Who Is At Risk
If youve had chickenpox in the past you can develop shingles.
This is because the inactive chickenpox virus stays in your nerve cells near your spine. When shingles develops its because the virus has become active again. Usually, a person will only get shingles once in their lives, but it can sometime occur again if you have a weakened immune system.
Shingles is more likely to occur in people who:
- are aged over 50
- have weakened immune systems, for example:
- have HIV or AIDS
- have had an organ transplant
- have recently had a bone marrow transplant
- have a condition which requires treatment that affects the immune system, such as chemotherapy for cancer.
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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.
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What Is The Contagious Period For Shingles
The virus that causes shingles, the varicella-zoster virus, can be transmitted from person to person by direct contact with the fluid from the active blistering rash. Therefore, susceptible individuals should avoid contact with people who have active shingles, especially pregnant women who have never had chickenpox and immunocompromised individuals. It cannot be transmitted by coughing or sneezing, and it is not contagious before the blisters appear. Once the shingles rash has dried and developed crusting, it generally is not considered to be contagious.
There are a few important points to consider when discussing the varicella-zoster virus and transmissibility.
- If an individual who has never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine comes in direct contact with the fluid from the shingles rash, they may go on to develop chickenpox, but they will not immediately develop shingles.
- It is possible, however, for them to develop shingles later in life, just as it is with others who have previously been exposed to the virus and developed chickenpox.
- Also, if you have previously been exposed to the varicella-zoster virus and you have had chickenpox, you will not contract the virus from others with shingles.
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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What Are The Complications Associated With Shingles
Shingles is not usually dangerous to healthy individuals although it can cause great misery during an attack. Anyone with shingles on the upper half of their face, no matter how mild, should seek medical care at once because of the risk of damage to the eye. Very rarely, shingles can lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, blindness, brain inflammation or death. For about one person in five, 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.
How Is Shingles Diagnosed And Treated
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 you have shingles and can make a treatment plan. Most cases can be diagnosed from a visual examination. If you have a condition that weakens the immune system, your doctor may order a shingles test. Although there is no cure for shingles, early treatment with antiviral medications can help the blisters clear up faster and limit severe pain. Shingles can often be treated at home.
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Myth : Shingles Isnt That Serious
Shingles isnt usually mild. Though the disease may run its course relatively quickly , a red rash isnt the worst of it. In most cases the blisters come with deep pain that can be debilitating, reducing a persons ability to go about their day.
What some people dont realize is how terrible the pain associated with shingles can be and how long it can last, Garner says.
After the rash is gone, burning, stabbing, throbbing pain can reappear as a chronic condition, called postherpetic neuralgia . It occurs where the rash was and can continue for months, even years. As the most common complication of shingles, PHN can usher in more problems, including depression, fatigue, loss of appetite, and trouble with sleeping and concentrating.
According to the CDC, between 10 and 18 percent of people with shingles develop PHN. Thats roughly 1 or 2 people out of every 10. Your risk for developing PHN increases with age. Also, the more pain you experienced during your shingles outbreak, the more likely you are to develop PHN.
This part is important: If your shingles rash appears on your face, it can be serious, especially if its near your eyes. This is particularly urgent, and the patient should also be evaluated by an ophthalmologist, Patel says, as it can pose a risk to vision and result in corneal scarring and, rarely, blindness.
We consider that an ophthalmological emergency, Garner adds.
What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles
Usually, shingles develops on just one side of the body or face, and in a small area. The most common place for shingles to occur is in a band around one side of the waistline.
Most people with shingles have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Fluid-filled blisters
- Tingling, itching, or numbness of the skin
- Chills, fever, headache, or upset stomach
For some people, the symptoms of shingles are mild. They might just have some itching. For others, shingles can cause intense pain that can be felt from the gentlest touch or breeze. Its important to talk with your doctor if you notice any shingles symptoms.
If you notice blisters on your face, see your doctor right away because this is an urgent problem. Blisters near or in the eye can cause lasting eye damage and blindness. Hearing loss, a brief paralysis of the face, or, very rarely, inflammation of the brain can also occur.
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Skin Allergies: Causes & Symptoms Of The Reaction
Skin allergies and stress are two common causes of skin rashes, but an allergic skin reaction can look very similar to the shingles rashmaking the two skin conditions difficult to differentiate. To spot the difference, its important to ask your resident or the elderly loved one in question about any recent changes in his or her routine. An allergic skin reaction can be caused by medication, exposure to an outdoor skin allergen , or exposure to new cosmetics . These allergic reactions can look like sporadic or irregularly shaped red sores on the skin. This flat or raised irritation can be itchy and bumpy, and even lead to blisters. However, unlike shingles, allergic skin rashes like this will often clear up on their ownwith most gone around two weeks after exposure.
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Symptoms And Treatment For Shingles Rash
The first symptom of the shingles rash is usually a burning or shooting pain, generally on one side of the body or face. One to three days later, a viral rash will erupt and eventually form pus-filled blisters like those of chicken pox. The blisters remain for as long as two weeks before crusting over and fading away. All patients who suspect they have shingles should seek medical attention. Studies show that not treating shingles worsens post-herpetic neuralgia pain.
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What Does A Shingles Rash Look Like At First
If the rash involves the ear, it can lead to hearing loss, imbalance, and weakness of the facial muscles. Shingles rash on the scalp causes pain while combing or brushing and bald patches. Shingles can occur in the mouth and are usually very painful, causing pain while eating and change in taste.
- Shingles of the eye and forehead
Rash and blisters appear around the eye, over the eyelids and one side of the forehead, extending to the tip of the nose. Patients present with burning or throbbing in the eye, with watering of the eyes, swelling, and blurred vision.
Pain may be present after the rash disappears due to nerve damage but eventually improves. Without treatment, it can lead to corneal damage and vision loss.
- Shingles on the waist and back
Rash and blisters appear on one side of the waist and back in a stripe pattern, extending up to the lower back.
- Shingles on the buttocks
Shingles rash and blisters appear on the buttocks, usually on one side.
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.
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Symptoms Of Eye Shingles
The symptoms of shingles around the eye may be different from the symptoms of eye involvement. Symptoms of shingles around the eye area may include:
Tingling on the face
Shorten the length of a shingles outbreak
Make shingles less painful
Reduce chances of persistent nerve pain after the rash resolves
In addition to these overall benefits, prompt treatment of eye shingles with antiviral medication can significantly reduce the risk of vision loss.
Without antiviral medication, 50% of ocular shingles patients will develop eye disorders compared with only 25% of patients who take the medication.
Its crucial to begin taking antiviral medication within 72 hours of the outbreak of the skin rash. It should be started as soon as possible after the rash starts, Rapuano says.
If your doctor diagnoses eye involvement with your case of ocular or facial shingles, you may also need topical eye drops. There are two main types of eye drops for shingles:
Corticosteroid eye drops Steroid drops can reduce the eye inflammation caused by shingles, Rapuano says. This lowers the chances of complications from shingles of the eye.
Pupil dilating eye drops Your eye doctor also may prescribe eye drops to keep the pupils open for pain relief due to an internal ocular inflammation caused by shingles.
When Should I See A Doctor
If you think you may have shingles, see your doctor as soon as possible. “Treatment is most effective when given within 72 hours of the appearance of rash and blisters,” advises Dr. Mohring. “Any rash accompanied by pain, including fever or headache, should prompt you to have a conversation with your doctor, especially if it’s a fluid-filled blister.”
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