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.
How Is Shingles Diagnosed
The clinical appearance of shingles is usually sufficient for a doctor to establish the diagnosis. Diagnostic tests are not usually required. However, particularly in people with impaired immune function, shingles may sometimes not have the characteristic clinical pattern. In this situation, samples from the affected skin may be examined in a laboratory, either by culturing the tissue for growth of the virus or by identifying the genetic material of the varicella virus.
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Shingles Rash In The Eyes
Ophthalmic shingles, or herpes zoster ophthalmicus , is when the shingles rash is in and/or around the eye. It is a severe variant that affects 20% of people with the infection.
If you develop a shingles rash near your eye, contact your healthcare provider right away.
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HZO usually appears within two to four weeks after a shingles rash starts. People who have a compromised immune system, such as those with HIV/AIDS, are at higher risk for developing this.
All parts of the eye can be affected. For example:
- You can develop blisters around the eye that may cause the eyelids and surrounding area to swell.
- The corneaâthe transparent part over the front of the eyeâcan be affected, causing calcification .
- Blood vessels in the eye could become more pronounced blood flow to the eye could be impacted.
To reduce your risk of long-term eye complications, contact your healthcare provider right away if you have a shingles rash on your face.
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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:
How Is Shingles Treated
Antiviral and pain medicine are used to treat the virus. Taking your medicine immediately can help your rash heal faster and be less painful. Avoid contact with people until your blisters crust over. Its especially important to avoid contact with people who are at risk, like pregnant women and infants. Talk with your doctor immediately if you think you have shingles.
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Shingles Vs Other Skin Conditions
Shingles is different from other conditions in several ways:
- People may experience pain, including burning, tingling, or electrical sensations on their skin for 1 to 2 days before the rash develops.
- The shingles rash looks like a group of small blisters or lesions.
- The rash usually develops in one area, not as patches of blisters in different areas on the face.
- Shingles usually affects just one side of the face.
- Makeup, sun exposure, or an allergy do not trigger shingles.
- Shingles will not spread from one area of the body through contact, unlike some other rashes.
- Some people develop more lesions after the initial outbreak. These blisters might be near the location of the first rash, or somewhere else.
- The rash begins as sore blisters that may then crack, bleed, and scab over.
- Shingles lasts 1 to 2 weeks.
- Shingles sometimes causes other symptoms, such as a fever, headache, muscle aches, and stomach pain or vomiting.
- Only people who have previously had chickenpox can get shingles.
When Should I See My Doctor
See your doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing any symptoms of shingles. Starting treatment with antiviral medicines within 3 days of the rash appearing should reduce the severity of symptoms and the risk of further complications, including post-herpetic neuralgia.
See your doctor straight away if you have symptoms of shingles and are experiencing the following:
- symptoms that affect your eye area
- a temperature of 38°C or higher
You should also see your doctor if you are pregnant, or have a weakened immune system due to medicine that suppresses the immune system, or a condition that weakens your immune system.
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Treating Shingles On The Face
Treatment is the same no matter where shingles develop. Treatment will involve taking an antiviral drug to reduce the severity of the outbreak and help it disappear more quickly.
People will see the best results if they take antiviral medication within 72 hours of the rash appearing.
In most cases, a doctor will prescribe the drugs famciclovir and valacyclovir. People with weak immune systems may need to take a different drug, such as acyclovir, instead.
Most research suggests anti-shingles drugs are safe for people who are breast-feeding, but those who are pregnant or breast-feeding should discuss medications with their doctors.
People who develop PHN may also require pain medication. PHN medication may include oral drugs, such as opioids or creams that people can apply directly to the skin.
What Can I Do For The Pain
To help with the pain of shingles, your doctor might have you take an over-the-counter pain medicine. This could include acetaminophen or ibuprofen .
Applying a medicated anti-itch lotion to the blisters might reduce the pain and itching. Placing cool compresses soaked in water mixed with white vinegar on the blisters and sores might also help.
If shingles causes severe pain, your doctor might prescribe a stronger pain medicine.
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Psoriasis Forms Red Patches On The Skin
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that is easy to confuse with the shingles rash. As with the shingles virus, psoriasis forms red patches on the skin, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. One type of psoriasis pustular can lead to the development of blisters. Areas of skin affected by psoriasis often develop into silvery scales on the scalp, elbows, knees, and lower back. Treatment can help control the condition.
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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Other Complications Of Shingles
If the shingles rash appears around the eye or forehead, it can cause eye infections and temporary or permanent loss of vision. If the shingles virus attacks the ear, people may develop hearing or balance problems. In rare cases, the shingles virus may attack the brain or spinal cord. These complications can often be prevented by beginning treatment for shingles as soon as possible.
How Can I Take Care Of Myself
- Take a pain-relief medicine such as acetaminophen. Take other medicine as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
- Put cool, moist washcloths on the rash.
- Rest in bed during the early stages if you have fever and other symptoms.
- Try not to let clothing or bed linens rub against the rash and irritate it.
- You develop worsening pain or fever.
- You develop a severe headache, stiff neck, hearing loss, or changes in your ability to think.
- The blisters show signs of bacterial infection, such as increasing pain or redness, or milky yellow drainage from the blister sites.
- The blisters are close to the eyes or you have pain in your eyes or trouble seeing.
- You have trouble walking.
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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.
Is The Zostavax Vaccine Still Being Used
Yes. The CDC, however, recommends Zostavax for adults age 60 and older, but not routinely for people aged 50 to 59. Zostavax is given as a single-dose shot versus the two-dose shot for Shingrix. Zostavax is less effective than Shingrix in preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia .
You can consider Zostavax if you are allergic to Shingrix or if Shingrix is unavailable because of supply shortage and you want some immediate protection from a possible case of shingles and/or postherpetic neuralgia. Because its a weakened live vaccine, it may be dangerous if you have cancer, HIV, or take steroids, chemotherapy or other medications that suppress your immune system. Ask your healthcare provider if the Zostavax vaccine is an option for you.
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Can You Get Shingles If You Havent Had Chickenpox
No. You cant get shingles if youve never had chickenpox, but you can get chickenpox from someone who has shingles. If youve never had chickenpox and you come into direct contact with the oozing, blister-like rash of someone with shingles, the varicella-zoster virus can infect you and you would develop chickenpox.
Once youve had chickenpox, you could develop shingles at some point in your life. This is because the varicella-zoster virus never fully goes away after youve had chickenpox. It lies quietly inactive in your nerve tissue. Later in life, the virus may become active again and appears as shingles.
Can you get chickenpox more than once?
Its rare to get chickenpox twice in your life. Once youve had chickenpox, youre usually immune to it for the rest of your life. However, its not totally impossible. If you have a severely weakened immune system , you can get chickenpox a second time. If youve had chickenpox, you are more likely to get shingles at some point in your life than a repeat bout of chickenpox.
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.
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Can You Get Shingles From The Covid
There have been a few reports of shingles happening in people who were vaccinated against COVID-19. The varicella-zoster virus was reactivated in these people.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
If youve had chickenpox, youre at risk of developing shingles later in life. Shingles causes a rash that is contagious and painful. The disease can have serious complications. The best thing you can do to reduce your risk is to get the shingles vaccine. The vaccines are safe and effective.
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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What Are Symptoms Of Shingles
The first signs of shingles include:
- Unusual sensations such as tingling, itching, or burning in an area of skin on one side of the body
After one to two days, signs and symptoms of shingles include:
- A rash that looks like a band-like pattern of blisters on one side of the body
- Commonly appears on the trunk but can appear on almost any part of the body
- After three to four days, blisters become open sores
- After 7 to 10 days, sores crust over and are no longer contagious
- A rash near the eye that can permanently affect vision if not treated
Skin color changes and scarring may occur after shingles have gone away.
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.
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Shingles Symptoms And Causes Mayo Clinic
- Highest rating: 5
- Summary: Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Shingles can occur anywhere on your body. It typically looks like a single stripe of blisters that
- Highest rating: 5
- Summary: Shingles rash shown on white skin. Close up of patches of red blisters oozing fluid The blotches become itchy blisters that ooze fluid. A few days later, the
Shingles Risks And Pregnancy
Pregnant women are susceptible to shingles. Fortunately, shingles in pregnancy is very rare. The antiviral medications described previously are considered safe to use in pregnant women, as are most pain-relieving drugs. Women should not take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen in the later stages of pregnancy, but acetaminophen is considered safe. Having chickenpox during pregnancy has the potential to cause birth defects, depending upon when in the pregnancy the infection occurs. The risk of birth defects is believed to be lower with shingles than with primary chickenpox infection.
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Hives And The Shingles Rash Are Often Confused
Hives are another type of allergic reaction that can be confused with the shingles rash. Hives are red, itchy bumps and swollen areas of varying sizes that can appear anywhere on the body. The allergic reaction that prompts hives can come from exposure to certain medications, foods, latex, or a viral infection. A quarter of Americans will experience hives at least once in their lives, while one in three Americans over 60 will get the shingles virus. Hives will clear up on their own, but the process can take months.
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.
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Why Does Shingles Appear Mostly On One Side Or In One Area Of Your Body
The virus travels in specific nerves, so you will often see shingles occur in a band on one side of your body. This band corresponds to the area where the nerve transmits signals. The shingles rash stays somewhat localized to an area. It doesnt spread over your whole body. Your torso is a common area, as is your face.