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.
Who’s At Risk For Shingles
Anyone who has ever had chickenpox can get shingles, but the risk increases with age. People older than age 60 are up to 10 times more likely to get shingles than younger people. Other factors that increase your risk include:
- Some cancer medicines
- A weak immune system from illnesses such as cancer or HIV
A quarter of adults will develop shingles at some point, and most are otherwise healthy.
What Are The Causes Of Shingles On The Scalp
Shingles forms due to a virus called varicella-zoster. Although its uncomfortable and itchy, it goes away within a few weeks. However, when chickenpox goes away, youre not free from the virus. The virus stays behind in your body, without you ever realizing it.
Once chickenpox subsides, the virus travels to clusters of nerves called ganglia. These ganglia are present all over the spinal cord and the brain. Once the virus arrives at the ganglia, it sits there quite harmlessly, and often for many years.
While its lying dormant, you wont even be aware that the virus is still there. In its dormant state, it doesnt cause any symptoms. But eventually, without any warning, the virus might reactivate. This is what causes shingles.
When the varicella-zoster virus comes out of hibernation, it starts multiplying. It then moves along the nerves towards the skin which the nerves attach to. Once it reaches the skin, shingles come out in the form of blisters.
Its not clear why shingles can suddenly develop, after years of the virus being dormant. Doctors estimate that roughly 20% of people who have had chickenpox will develop shingles at some point.
It just depends on which nerves the shingles virus attached to. So if it lies dormant in the nerves in your head, youll develop shingles on your scalp!
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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.
What Does A Mild Case Of Shingles Look Like
Not everyone with shingles will develop a blistering rash. A mild case of shingles may include a red rash without blisters. The shingles rash and blisters are distinct characteristics of the illness. Mild cases of shingles do not usually cause headaches, fever, or fatigue.
Whether mild or severe, pain is the most common symptom of shingles. Most people describe a deep burning, throbbing, or stabbing sensation. The pain usually subsides within 30 days.
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Shingles On Scalp And Ear Pain
A rash is the most common symptom of shingles on scalp. The pain from rash behind the ear and on the scalp is felt like sharp stabbing knives. Ear pain or hearing difficulties is a complication you may develop when the condition is not diagnosed in time. This condition is however curable and the following are some of the treatments that might be administered
- Cold compressing- this helps to soothe and relieve pain in the ear
- Use of pain relievers such as non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications
- Ear drops for relieving itching and irritation inside the ear.
Eczema Can Cause Red Itchy Skin With Bumps
Like shingles, a skin allergy can also cause red, bumpy, itchy skin, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology . These reactions include eczema, hives, and contact dermatitis. Eczema can cause dry, red, itchy, irritated skin, per the ACAAI. Small, oozing, fluid-filled bumps may also appear, especially when the skin is infected. Eczema is most common on the face, inside the elbows and behind the knees, and on the hands and feet, per MedlinePlus. There is no cure for eczema, but treatments can help manage the condition.
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Can You Get Shingles On Your Head
Shingles can appear anywhere on your body, and this includes shingles on your head. This is a more apparent outbreak which is harder to hide but that is not the only unique trait of it. Where it manifests is a function of the track of nerve the sleeping pathogen inhabits.
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If it happens to settle along a nerve responsible for sending signals to the legs, outbreaks on your leg are to be expected. If they happen to be on the facial nerve, it should come as no surprise that they appear on the head. Many people experience symptoms of shingles on the head including episodes affected the neck, ears, forehead, nose, chin, or other regions of the face.
What Are Shingles Symptoms
Common symptoms of shingles are pain and a rash in a belt-like form that stops at the midline of the body affecting only one side. Symptoms of shingles progress from burning and itching sensations to severe pain at the location of the rash. Early shingles symptoms may include burning, tingling, or a numb sensation on the skin accompanied by headache, upset stomach, and chills.
Later stages include painful fluid-filled blisters that cause severe pain, fever, and severe itching.
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Are Shingle On Scalp Contagious
Shingle on scalp or on other parts of the body is not contagious. What that means is that you cannot give it to someone else. However, the virus that causes chicken pox is highly contagious. The virus can be spread through physical contact with people who have not had chickenpox before or who were not vaccinated against the virus.
Remember, it is the virus that causes chicken that activates to cause shingles on scalp. Once infected with the varicella virus, your immune system releases antibodies that protect your body from future infections of the virus.
To reduce the risk of transmitting the virus from an infected person to those not infected, you need to reduce physical contact until the symptoms clear. Shingles without rash is however not contagious, It is however advised to reduce close physical contact with those not infected with the virus, especially pregnant women and those with weak or compromised immune system.
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.
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How Is Postherpetic Neuralgia Treated
Treatments include lotions or creams and/or other medications not specifically used for pain, such as antidepressants or drugs for epilepsy. Regular pain relievers are not usually effective for this type of pain.
If your pain doesnt lessen, you might try therapies like nerve blocks or steroid injections near the area where the nerves exit the spine. Your provider might suggest an implantable nerve stimulator device for severe, ongoing pain that hasnt responded to other treatments.
How Does It Occur
If you have had chickenpox, you are at risk for later developing shingles. After you recover from chickenpox, the chickenpox virus stays in your body. It moves to the roots of your nerve cells and becomes inactive . Later, if the virus becomes active again, shingles is the name given to the symptoms it causes.
What exactly causes the virus to become active is not known. A weakened immune system seems to allow reactivation of the virus. This may occur with normal aging, immune-suppressing medicines, or another illness, or after major surgery. It can also happen as a complication of cancer or AIDS or treatment of these illnesses. Chronic use of steroid drugs may trigger shingles. The virus may also become active again after the skin is injured or sunburned. Emotional stress seems to be a common trigger as well.
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How Common Is Shingles
Shingles is an infection of a nerve and the area of skin supplied by the nerve. It is caused by a virus called the varicella-zoster virus. It is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who has had chickenpox in the past may develop shingles. Shingles is sometimes called herpes zoster.
About 1 in 4 people have shingles at some time in their lives. It can occur at any age but it is most common in older adults . After the age of 50, it becomes increasingly more common as you get older. It is uncommon to have shingles more than once but some people do have it more than once.
Serious Symptoms That Might Indicate Complications Of Shingles
In some cases, shingles can affect the nerves of the face, eyes, or ears and cause serious symptoms and complications, such as facial paralysis or impaired vision and hearing. Get prompt medical care if you, or someone you are with, have symptoms of shingles, particularly the following symptoms or conditions:
- painful, widespread rash, a symptom of disseminated shingles
- weakened immune system caused by a chronic condition or immune-suppressing medications
- rash near your eyes or involving the tip of the nose
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When Should You See A Healthcare Provider For Shingles
If you experience persistent pain or a widespread itchy rash on the body or face, you should reach out to your healthcare provider. The National Institute of Aging recommends that you see your healthcare provider no later than three days after the rash or skin pain has appeared.
Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to reducing your risk for complications, helping you to heal quicker and reduce the potential for scarring.
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.
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Why Doesnt Having Chickenpox Earlier In Life Provide Immunity Against Having Shingles Later
After having chickenpox, your body doesnt rid your system of the virus. Instead, the virus stays in a portion of the spinal nerve root called the dorsal root ganglion. In most people, the virus simply stays there quietly and doesnt cause problems. Scientists arent always sure why the virus gets active again, but they know stress can be a cause.
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.
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What Does Shingles Look Like
Shingles looks as painful as it sounds. Red patches of skin covered in bumps eventually erupt into fluid-filled blisters that ooze before eventually drying out and crusting over. The infected bands of skin typically wrap around one side of the bodyleft or right. Shingles mostly appears on the torso, face, and neck, but it has been known to pop up on an arm or leg.
People with weakened immune systems often have shingles that stray from the typical band-like pattern. Their shingles may be more widespread.
People with severe cases of shingles may see permanent changes in the pigmentation of their skin once their blisters scab over and fall off.
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 111.nhs.uk 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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What Could It Be If Its Not Shingles
By now, you know the causes, symptoms, and treatments of shingles, as well as the most frequently asked questions. If youve decided that your symptoms dont match scalp shingles, you might be wondering what else it could be. There are many conditions that could cause a rash on the scalp, so well take you through the most common ones.
One common cause of a rash on the scalp is psoriasis. This rash looks quite different from shingles, although it is just as itchy. Rather than blisters that fill with fluid, psoriasis is a dry, scaly rash. So if youre suffering from patches of silvery, flaky skin on your scalp, psoriasis could be the cause. Seborrheic dermatitis also produces very similar symptoms to psoriasis.
You could also have a fungal infection of the scalp. Tinea capitis is a common fungal infection that causes very itchy, dry patches of skin on the scalp. Its usually accompanied by hair loss in the area of the rash. Tinea capitis can also cause a low fever and swollen lymph nodes, symptoms that it has in common with shingles.
If you have a very itchy, irritated scalp, you could even have head lice. Contrary to popular belief, its not just children who catch head lice. They dont cause a rash, but their bites do cause itchiness. If you scratch your head too much, it can result in sores that might resemble a shingles rash.
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 manâs 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 manâs hand
While shingles tends to develop on your body or face, it can appear anywhere on your skin.
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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: