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.
What Triggers Shingles Flare
Most people who get shingles will have a one and done type of experience. In other words, theyll get it and likely never have it again. That said, there are some people who get shingles more than once.
Heres how it happens: the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox, lies dormant in nerve cells after you recover from chickenpox or shingles.
For the most part, the virus stays inactive after your shingles symptoms subside and youve healed. But certain risk factors can trigger flare-ups and cause the virus to reactivate. Experts call this recurrent shingles.
A 2021 review looked at the incidences of first and recurrent shingles episodes and found that the average time between infections was 2 years for people ages 45 to 54 and 3 years for those ages 55 and older.
In addition, of the participants who experienced a flare-up, the incidence was higher in those who were immunosuppressed compared with people with healthy immune systems.
In other words, if you have a compromised or weakened immune system, you have a greater chance of getting shingles again. This can happen if you:
- are undergoing chemotherapy
Natural Remedies For Shingles
If you had chickenpox as a child, the shingles virus lies dormant in your body. The virus can reactivate later in life and cause a shingles rash. The rash can occur on any part of your body but typically only affects small sections.
Pain is usually the first symptom of shingles. The rash and fluid-filled blisters form within a couple of days after the onset of pain. Some people with shingles also have a fever, sensitivity to light, and fatigue.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , about 1 in 3 people in the United States will develop shingles at some point in their lifetime.
The shingles virus can last between two and six weeks. Shingles isnt life-threatening, but some people experience postherpetic neuralgia. This is when nerve fibers become damaged, causing shingles pain that lasts for weeks or months after the rash clears.
Theres no cure for shingles, but your doctor can prescribe antiviral medication to help shorten the duration of the virus and reduce symptoms.
Although an antiviral is an effective treatment for shingles, its not the only option. Several natural remedies may also reduce pain and discomfort.
Dry your body completely and then wash your towel to avoid spreading the virus to others.
- orange and yellow fruits
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Skin Care And Itch Relief For Shingles
To relieve itching and discomfort, try:
- A cool, wet compresses on the affected skin
- Soothing baths and lotions, such as colloidal oatmeal bath, starch baths, or calamine lotion
- Zostrix, a cream that contains capsaicin
- Antihistamines to reduce itching
Keep your skin clean. Throw away bandages you use to cover your skin sores. Throw away or wash in hot water clothing that has contact with your skin sores. Wash your sheets and towels in hot water.
While your skin sores are still open and oozing, avoid all contact with anyone who has never had chickenpox, especially pregnant women.
What Are The Symptoms Of Postherpetic Neuralgia
Postherpetic neuralgia is pain that occurs months or years after you have had shingles.
- It happens in the area of your skin where the shingles infection first occurred.
- This is most commonly in a band around your body, usually on one side of your body.
- The pain is described as burning, sharp and jabbing, or deep and aching.
- People with the condition often cant bear even the touch of clothing on the affected skin as they are sensitive to light touch.
- Sometimes postherpetic neuralgia can produce an itchy feeling or numbness.
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Using Apple Cider Vinegar For Shingles
Several home remedy recipes online for relieving shingles pain using ACV can be found online.
Some popular options include applying ACV directly to the shingles rash, usually in combination with other ingredients like honey, or taking a bath that contains a small amount of ACV in the bathwater.
Reportedly, ACV can help relieve some of the painful stinging and itching of the shingles rash, as well as potentially help cleanse the rash and kill Herpes zoster, the virus that causes it.
Although some evidence suggests that ACV is antiviral, theres no proof that it can help kill Herpes zoster by applying it to your skin .
Additionally, theres no scientific evidence that ACV applied topically helps relieve pain or itching. However, this doesnt mean that it wont work for you.
ACV is sometimes used as a home remedy for pain caused by the shingles rash. Although it may work for some people, theres no scientific evidence to support its use.
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Articles On Shingles Treatment
The virus that causes chickenpox is also what causes shingles. Itâs called varicella zoster. It can lie quietly in your nerves for decades after causing chickenpox but suddenly wake up and become active.
The main symptom of shingles is a painful rash that comes up on one side of your body or face. See your doctor as soon as you can if you think you might have this condition.
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Mezereum: For Shingles With Blisters With Scabs
Mezereum is prepared from a plant called Daphne Mezereum . This plant belongs to the vegetable kingdom. The bark of the shrub is used to prepare Mezereum. This plant is native of hilly woods of nearly whole of Europe and Russian Asia.It is indicated for Herpes Zoster with burning pains. Eruptions ooze out with a discharge of acrid, gluey moisture from thick crusts. Scab formation over herpetic blisters with pus beneath it, itching over affected skin rash that gets worse by warmth, a sensation of insects crawling are some symptoms. The eruptions are crusty with white scabs and can bleed when touched. The skin becomes cold in those places where there is intense itching.
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How Is Shingles Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will do a complete physical exam and ask about your medical history, specifically about whether you have ever had chickenpox.
Your healthcare provider will likely know right away that it is shingles based on the unique rash. The rash usually appears one area on one side of the body or face. It appears as red spots, small fluid- or pus-filled vesicles, or scabs.
The healthcare provider may also take skin scrapings for testing.
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What To Do If You Think You Have Shingles
If you suspect that you have shingles, its important to visit a healthcare professional as soon as possible. According to the American Academy of Dermatology , treating shingles within the first 72 hours gives you the best chance of minimizing complications like nerve pain.
Antiviral medications or other medications only available by prescription can shorten the duration of your shingles or lessen the severity.
If a cream or other topical isnt reducing your pain, its a good idea to visit your doctor again. They may recommend trying another treatment like capsaicin cream instead of lidocaine.
If a product is making your symptoms worse, its important to stop taking it right away.
You may be able to reduce your symptoms using home remedies while youre waiting to see a healthcare professional. These include applying a wet cold compress or taking a cool bath.
How About Acupuncture For Shingles
Acupuncture is one of the most effective treatments for pain. My wife Lesley and I are both acupuncturists and we used a lot of it to try and treat this condition. The standard points for shingles are Spleen 10 and Large Intestine 11 . We also did auricular treatment: we bled the apex of the ear, indicated for all inflammatory conditions. This did not show any effect to warrant a repeat attempt.
A heroic procedure recommended by a respected acupuncturist as a gold-standard shingles treatment consisted of whacking the tender recently healed over area where the initial shingle blisters were until it bled profusely. This arduous and painful treatment promised immediate and lasting relief from postherpetic neuralgia. Ive always found that bleeding is the most effective way to immediately resolve inflammation and relieve pain. Fortunately, I took a lot of kratom before and allowed Lesley to perform the treatment. It did not work.
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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.
Apply A Licorice Gel Or Tea For Pain And Inflammation
Licorice has traditionally been used topically to treat shingles and ease the pain that lasts even after the blisters disappear. So how does licorice work? Glycyrrhizin, an active component found in this herb, has been found to stop varicella zoster from replicating. You can apply licorice gel a couple of times a day for relief.1819 You can also boil the herb in water to make a strong tea and apply that on the blisters.
How Can You Care For Yourself At Home
- Be safe with medicines. Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine. Antiviral medicine helps you get better faster.
- Try not to scratch or pick at the blisters.
- Keep the blisters moist until they heal over. One way to do this is to cover them with a thin layer of petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, and a nonstick bandage.
- Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen , ibuprofen , or naproxen . Read and follow all instructions on the label.
- Avoid close contact with people until the blisters have healed. It is very important for you to avoid contact with anyone who has never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine. Young babies and anyone who is pregnant or has a hard time fighting infection are especially at risk.
Avoid Intense Or Irritating Movement
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, shingles rashes most often appear on the trunk of the body, which includes your:
Shingles rashes can also occur on the:
With that in mind, its best to avoid activities that require you to lay on these areas, like exercising on the floor or a workout bench. For instance, if youre doing gentle yoga, skip any poses that have you lying in the prone or supine position, where your belly or back are touching the floor, respectively.
Additionally, intense cardiovascular exercise like running or cycling may irritate a shingles rash, especially in the early stages.
As you heal, consider switching to lower-intensity workouts like walking until the blisters dry up and crust over. According to the National Institute on Aging , this generally takes around 7 to 10 days after a rash appears.
If possible, hold off on high intensity exercise until the scabs are completely cleared up, which may take 2 to 5 weeks.
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Who Is At Risk For Getting Shingles
People who have had chickenpox who are more likely to develop shingles include those:
- With a weakened immune system .
- Over the age of 50.
- Who have been ill.
- Who have experienced trauma.
- Who are under stress.
The chickenpox virus doesnt leave your body after you have chickenpox. Instead, the virus stays in a portion of your spinal nerve root called the dorsal root ganglion. For the majority of people, the virus stays there quietly and doesn’t cause problems. Researchers aren’t always sure why the virus gets reactivated, but this typically occurs at times of stress.
Treatment Of Herpes Zoster
The treatment of herpes zoster has three major objectives: treatment of the acute viral infection, treatment of the acute pain associated with herpes zoster and prevention of postherpetic neuralgia. Antiviral agents, oral corticosteroids and adjunctive individualized pain-management modalities are used to achieve these objectives.
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Treatment For Shingles Rash And Pain
Medications and lifestyle changes can provide relief.
Despite the availability of a highly effective vaccine, an estimated 1 million Americans develop shingles each year.1 Early diagnosis and treatment are key to limiting the severity of the outbreak as well as its associated complications, including nerve damage. There are also simple at-home remedies that can help patients stay as comfortable as possible.
Antiviral medications should be started within 72 hours of the first shingles symptoms. The three antivirals most often prescribed are acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir. They help the shingles rash crust over, dry up, and heal, shortening the course of the infection.
Pain is a major factor with shingles. Patients can consult with their health care provider on over-the-counter and prescription options to manage it. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen can be effective, while prescription glucocorticoids such as prednisone can help with more aggressive pain. Short-term usage of opioid pain medicationlike oxycodone or hydrocodone/acetaminophen is reserved for the highest levels of pain.
Shingles typically lasts between 2 and 6 weeks patients are usually confined to their home for the duration both for their own comfort and to prevent spreading the virus to others. There are a number of simple steps they can take to promote healing and increase their comfort level.
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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Why Does Shingles Appear Mostly On One Side Or In One Area Of The Body
The virus travels in specific nerves, so you will often see shingles occur in a band on one side of the body. This band corresponds to the area where the nerve transmits signals. The shingles rash stays somewhat localized to an area it does not spread over your whole body. The torso is a common area, as is the face.
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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When Should You Call For Help
or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have a new or higher fever.
- You have a severe headache and a stiff neck.
- You lose the ability to think clearly.
- The rash spreads to your forehead, nose, eyes, or eyelids.
- You have eye pain, or your vision gets worse.
- You have new pain in your face, or you can’t move the muscles in your face.
- Blisters spread to new parts of your body.
- You have symptoms of infection, such as increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- The rash has not healed after 2 to 4 weeks.
- You still have pain after the rash has healed.
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.
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