Tuesday, April 16, 2024

What Is Shingles And What Causes It

What To Do Next

Shingles: What you need to know about causes, symptoms, and prevention.

If you notice shingle granule loss and you didnt just have a brand new roof replacement, then your roof could be showing signs of storm damage or aging. Typically, if the granule loss reaches a point where youre seeing bald patches on your roof, then its likely time for a roof replacement.

No matter what level of shingle granule loss you have, its a wise idea to contact a trusted local roofing contractor to perform a free inspection. A professional roofer will be able to tell if your granule loss is urgent or not and if they recommend any repairs or a replacement.

Its always better to be safe than to be sorry. Scheduling a roof inspection will save you a lot of hassle in the long run.

Is There A Vaccine Against Shingles

Shingix is currently the only shingles vaccine available in the United States. Its given to people over age 50.

Previously, an additional vaccine, Zostavax, was used, but it was phased out in the United States as of November 2020.

According to the CDC, two doses of Shingrix are over 90 percent effective at preventing shingles. Youll retain at least 85 percent protection for 4 years after being vaccinated.

If you get shingles after being vaccinated, your symptoms will likely be less severe. Youll also have a lower chance of developing postherpetic neuralgia a complication where pain remains even after a shingles rash goes away.

Shingles usually follows a pattern of development. It typically progresses with the following symptoms:

  • First, you may notice a tingling or burning sensation in your skin.
  • One to 5 days later a rash appears as small red spots.
  • Fluid-filled blisters develop a few days later.
  • After 7 to 10 days, the lesions crust over.
  • The rash disappears over the next 2 to 4 weeks.

In some cases, pain may persist for several months or even years after the rash has disappeared. This complication, known as postherpetic neuralgia , can be severe enough to affect your quality of life.

Certain antiseizure medications can help manage the pain. Gabapentin and pregabalin are two that are commonly used.

Symptoms And Complications Of Shingles

During the 2 or 3 days before shingles develops, most people have pain, a tingling sensation, or itching in a strip of skin on one side of the body. Clusters of small, fluid-filled blisters surrounded by a small red area then develop on the strip of skin. Typically, the blisters occur only on the limited area of skin supplied by the infected nerve fibers. Most often, blisters appear on the trunk, usually on only one side. However, a few blisters may also appear elsewhere on the body. Typically, blisters continue to form for about 3 to 5 days. The affected area is usually sensitive to any stimulus, including light touch, and may be very painful.

Shingles symptoms are usually less severe in children than in adults.

The blisters begin to dry and form a scab about 5 days after they appear. Until scabs appear, the blisters are contagious and contain varicella-zoster virus, which, if spread to susceptible people, can cause chickenpox. Having many blisters outside the affected dermatome or having blisters that persist for more than 2 weeks usually indicates that the immune system is not functioning normally.

Rarely, the affected skin becomes infected by bacteria. Scratching the blisters increases this risk. Bacterial infections increase the risk of scarring.

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Key Points About Shingles

  • Shingles is a common viral infection of the nerves. It causes a painful rash or small blisters on an area of skin.
  • Shingles is caused when the chickenpox virus is reactivated.
  • It is more common in people with weakened immune systems, and in people over the age of 50.
  • Shingles starts with skin sensitivity, tingling, itching, and/or pain followed by rash that looks like small, red spots that turn into blisters.
  • The rash is typically affects just one area on one side of the body or face.
  • Treatment that is started as soon as possible helps reduce the severity of the disease.

Shingles On Your Face

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Shingles usually occurs on one side of your back or chest, but you can also get a rash on one side of your face.

If the rash is close to or in your ear, it can cause an infection that could lead to:

  • loss of hearing
  • issues with your balance
  • weakness in your facial muscles

Shingles inside your mouth can be very painful. It may be difficult to eat and may affect your sense of taste.

A shingles rash on your scalp can cause sensitivity when you comb or brush your hair. Without treatment, shingles on the scalp can lead to permanent bald patches.

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For Older Adults: Shingles Vaccine

A different vaccine, the herpes zoster vaccine, is available for people aged 50 and older who have had chickenpox and therefore carry VZV. Experts also recommend this vaccine for those who have not had chickenpox or shingles.

In the U.S., of people born before 1980 already have this virus in their system. The herpes zoster vaccine can help prevent shingles in people who already have the virus.

The options available are Zostavax and a newer vaccine called Shingrix.

After two doses of Shingrix, a person will have more than 90% protection against shingles, falling to just above 85% after 4 years, according to the CDC.

Who Should Be Vaccinated With Shingrix

The Shingrix vaccine is recommended for those 50 years of age and older who are in good health.

You should get the Shingrix vaccine even if:

  • Youve had shingles already.
  • Youve been previously vaccinated with Zostavax . If youve been vaccinated with Zostavax, wait at least eight weeks before getting vaccinated with Shingrix.
  • You dont know for sure if youve ever had chickenpox.

Ask your healthcare provider, who knows your entire health history if getting this vaccine is right for you.

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How Do Health Care Professionals Diagnose Shingles

Shingles can often be diagnosed by your doctor based upon the distinctive appearance and distribution of the characteristic shingles rash. A painful, blistering rash that is localized to defined dermatomes is a sign highly suggestive of shingles. Blood work or other testing is usually not necessary. Diagnosing shingles before the appearance of the rash or in cases of zoster sine herpete can be challenging. In cases where the diagnosis is unclear, laboratory tests are available to help confirm the diagnosis. Depending on the clinical situation, testing can be done using either blood work or by specialized testing of skin lesion samples.

Shingles Chickenpox And Pregnancy

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An attack of shingles during pregnancy will not harm the unborn baby. The mother is already carrying the varicella zoster virus before developing shingles and there is no increase in the risk of passing it on to the fetus if shingles develops. However, an attack of chickenpox during pregnancy can be serious and requires urgent medical attention.

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Treatment If Shingles Gets Worse

In some cases, shingles causes long-term problems. Treatment depends on the specific complication.

  • Postherpetic neuralgia is persistent pain that lasts months or even years after the shingles rash heals. Certain medicines, such as anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and opioids, can relieve pain. Most cases of PHN get better within a year.
  • Disseminated zoster is a blistery rash over a large portion of the body. It may affect the heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, joints, and intestinal tract. Treatment may include both antiviral medicines to prevent the virus from multiplying and antibiotics to stop infection.
  • Herpes zoster ophthalmicus is a rash on the forehead, cheek, nose, and around one eye. It could threaten your sight. Get treatment from an ophthalmologist right away. Treatment may include rest, cool compresses, and antiviral medicines.
  • If the shingles virus affects the nerves originating in the brain , serious complications involving the face, eyes, nose, and brain can occur. Treatment depends on the nature and location of the complication.

What Is The Connection Between Chickenpox & Shingles

Chickenpox is a very contagious disease that causes a blister-like rash typically all over the body, itching, and fever. Before the chickenpox vaccine, nearly everyone in the United States got chickenpox. The chickenpox virus can reactivate, causing shingles. People with shingles may have pain, itching, tingling, and blisters in one area of the body that can last for weeks.

You may be among the 99% of people over the age of 50 years who is at risk for shingles, since the virus that causes chickenpox also causes shingles when it reactivates. One in three people will get shingles in their lifetime.

Chickenpox

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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.

Can Shingles Cause Chronic Pain

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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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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.

How Is Shingles Spread

A person must have already had chickenpox in the past to develop shingles. A person cannot get shingles from a person that has shingles. However, the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles can be spread from a person with active shingles to a person who has never had chickenpox or had the chickenpox vaccine. The person exposed to the virus would develop chickenpox, not shingles. A person with shingles can spread the virus when the rash is in the blister-phase. The blister fluid is filled with virus particles. The virus is spread through direct contact with the rash or through breathing in virus particles that get mixed in the air. Once the rash has developed crusts, the person is no longer contagious. A person is not infectious before blisters appear or if pain persists after the rash is gone .

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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.

What Can Be Done To Prevent The Spread Of Shingles

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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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Can Shingles Be Prevented

There are 2 vaccines available to reduce the likelihood of developing shingles, Zostavax and Shingrix. If you are over 50, you can talk to your doctor about whether you need it. It is recommended for everyone over 60 and is given free of charge in Australia to people aged 70 to 79.

Vaccination will not guarantee that you will not get shingles, but it will reduce your chance of developing the condition. The vaccine used to protect against shingles is not the same as the vaccine used to protect against chickenpox. Read more about the chickenpox vaccine here.

Shingles On Your Buttocks

You can get a shingles rash on your buttocks. Shingles usually only affects one side of your body, so you may have a rash on one buttock but not the other.

As with other areas of the body, shingles on your buttocks may cause initial symptoms like tingling, itching, or pain.

After a few days, a red rash or blisters may develop. Some people experience pain but dont develop a rash.

. After the varicella-zoster virus initially reactivates, your skin may:

Shingles usually develops on one side of your body, often on your waist, back, or chest.

Within about 5 days, you may see a red rash in that area. Small groups of oozing, fluid-filled blisters may appear a few days later in the same area. You may experience flu-like symptoms such as a fever, headache, or fatigue.

During the next 10 days or so, the blisters will dry up and form scabs. The scabs will clear after a couple of weeks. After the scabs clear, some people continue to experience pain. This is called postherpetic neuralgia.

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Can Shingles Be Passed On To Others

You cant catch shingles from another person with shingles, but the virus responsible for chickenpox can be passed on by someone with shingles to a person who has not had chickenpox or been vaccinated against it. This can happen when a person comes into contact with the fluid from the blisters. To prevent passing the virus on, keep the rash covered with clothing or a dressing and always clean your hands after you touch the rash or change any dressing.

When To Call A Doctor

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if you:

  • Have a rash or blisters on your face, especially near an eye or on the tip of your nose. This can be a warning of eye problems. Treatment can help prevent permanent eye damage.
  • Think you have shingles. Early treatment with antiviral medicines may help reduce pain and prevent complications of shingles, such as disseminated zoster or postherpetic neuralgia .

If you still feel intense pain for more than 1 month after the skin heals, see your doctor to find out if you have PHN. Getting your pain under control right away may prevent nerve damage that may cause pain that lasts for months or years.

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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.

Is That Rash By My Eye Really Shingles

Shingles tends to show up most frequently on the torso, just because of the laws of probability, notes Joseph Safdieh, MD, a professor of neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. In that area of your body, there are 24 nerves that can host the virus, compared with the 10 in your lower back.

Often, its not what the rash looks like, but what it feels like before and after it shows up, that signals the condition. Up to several days before the shingles rash appears, pain, itching, or tingling often occurs in the area where it will develop.

In the days before the rash appears, a variety of other flu-like symptoms of shingles can occur. You may experience:

You may even experience the pain but not the rash. Because the pain of shingles originates in the nerves, it may have a different quality than any other pain you have experienced before.

Neuropathic pain is burning, says Dr. Safdieh. Its both numb and painful at the same time, and can be provoked by touching the skin. Your skin may be so sensitive that even sunlight can bring on a stabbing sensation.

Even if you arent sure you have shingles, you should still see a doctor right away, because immediate treatment can prevent complications like long-term nerve pain.

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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 haven’t had chickenpox before.

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