The Details: Heres Where Postherpetic Neuralgia Gets Complicated
Postherpetic Neuralgia Causes
To help you understand how shingles can cause PHN, you need to know how you can get shingles. Shingles is caused by a viral infection called herpes zoster. The virus that causes herpes zoster is called the varicella-zoster virus, and it is the same virus that causes chicken pox in childhood. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus can enter the nervous system and remain dormant for many years. In some people, the virus will reactivate years later and produce shingles.4
Researchers arent exactly sure what triggers the herpes zoster virus to re-emerge after all those years, but they think it is related to age, illness, and stress.3 Shingles can be very painful, and when the virus reaches the skin, it can cause blistery rashes. These rashes usually heal in less than 3 months.
And this chain of events can lead to PHN. If the pain of shingles lingers longer than 3 months, you may have PHN.
During your bout with shingles, the virus you were fighting injured nerves in and around the skin where the rash and blisters once existed. As your immune system eventually suppressed the virus, your rash and blisters disappeared. You may have even felt less pain, and you assumed that you had won the battle with shingles.
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How To Prevent Shingles
Do remember that aside from the natural home remedies mentioned above, it will be helpful to avoid having to scratch the affected area of the skin because this might aggravate your condition even more.
Keep shingles exposed unless you are doing home remedies so that they can dry up quickly. Keep your skin clean and dry, do not share towels, rags, or gloves with other people.
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.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Postherpetic Neuralgia
Common postherpetic neuralgia symptoms include:
- Burning, sharp, jagging or aching pain in the area where the shingles rash appeared.
- Itchiness or numbness at or near the area of the former rash.
- Pain that is constant or comes and goes. Pain typically lasts, on average, for three months after the rash has healed, but can last for more than a year or longer.
- Pain at affected skin area can be brought on even with a light touch .
- Pain gets worse at night or in heat or cold temperatures.
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Lasting Pain After Shingles
Pain that continues for a long time after a shingles rash has disappeared is called post-herpetic neuralgia. This is the most common complication of shingles. Its still not clear how it can be prevented or what the best treatment is.
Shingles typically causes a rash accompanied by pain in the affected area. The pain normally goes away when the rash goes away. This usually happens after two to four weeks. Pain that continues for longer is referred to as post-herpetic neuralgia. The word post-herpetic means post-herpes because the pain arises after infection by the herpes zoster virus. In very rare cases pain can come back after a shingles infection, even if it had already gone away and the rash has disappeared.
The main symptom of post-herpetic neuralgia is pain in the nerves . The skin is often overly sensitive and itchy as well. This can make it difficult or painful to wash yourself, turn over in bed, or hug someone. The pain and itching can be very severe and might keep you from sleeping.
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Whats The Difference Between Cream Lotion And Ointment
Ointments, lotions, and creams are three types of substances you can apply to your skin to help manage shingles.
These topicals are similar, but there are slight differences in their makeup. The primary difference is the amount of water and oil they contain.
According to this 2016 primer, creams are made up of about equal parts oil and water and often have moisturizing properties. Theyre thicker than lotions but thinner than ointments.
Lotions are similar to creams, but they are made up mostly of water. They have less oil and have a thinner consistency. Because theyre thinner, your skin absorbs them more quickly. Some lotions are oil-free.
Ointments are the thickest of the three. They are made to stay on top of your skin instead of being absorbed immediately. Ointments are made up of at least 80 percent oil.
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Neem And Turmeric Paste
- Take a bunch of fresh Neem leaves and 2 to 3 teaspoons of organic Turmeric.
- Grind the Neem leaves into a smooth paste. Add the Turmeric powder and mix.
- Apply the mixture on the blisters to form a layer. Repeat the process twice a day for a week.
How does this work?
Neem has been an important remedy for treating various illnesses and has been extolled in Ayurvedic texts as a divine remedy. It has been traditionally used as medicine for several centuries. Neem comprises nimbidol and edumin which have excellent antifungal properties that help cure shingles in an incredibly short time.
Turmeric is an excellent anti-oxidant that has great anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the swelling associated with shingles. Turmeric also prevents dehydration and prevents the affected skin from drying up. The Neem-Turmeric combo is one of the most effective home remedies for shingles pain.
The Remedy is not Good if:
- There is no reason why this line of treatment wont work. Both Turmeric and Neem can be applied on the severest of blisters or wounds and will never have any adverse effect.
- However, this combo paste should not be applied in the eyes.
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Complications Of Peripheral Neuropathy
The outlook for peripheral neuropathy varies, depending on the underlying cause and which nerves have been damaged.
Some cases may improve with time if the underlying cause is treated, whereas in some people the damage may be permanent or may get gradually worse with time.
If the underlying cause of peripheral neuropathy is not treated, you may be at risk of developing potentially serious complications, such as a foot ulcer that becomes infected.
This can lead to gangrene if untreated, and in severe cases may mean the foot has to be amputated.
Peripheral neuropathy may affect the nerves controlling the automatic functions of the heart and circulation system .
You may need treatment to increase your blood pressure or, in rare cases, a pacemaker.
Can You Prevent Shingles
Shingles are caused by an outbreak of the chickenpox virus. You have two avenues to follow that lead to prevention, including avoidance and vaccines.
If you’ve never been exposed to the chickenpox virus, prevention is critical. That means you should avoid:
- Anyone with active chickenpox. The puss inside the chickenpox holds the virus, and it’s very contagious. Steer clear of anyone who has been diagnosed. Chickenpox is considered to be more contagious than shingles.
- Anyone with shingles. You can get shingles from someone with an outbreak, although it’s rare. If you’ve never been exposed, do not take a chance.
If the outbreak is in the blister phase, the person is contagious. Once the blisters crust over, the person is no longer contagious. If the person keeps their rash and blisters covered, the risk of spreading the virus is low.
Some people are more susceptible to contracting the virus. This includes people with certain autoimmune conditions as well as those with other conditions that suppress the immune system. People who take certain immunosuppressive medications are also at a higher risk.
Adults 50 and older can use a vaccine for protection. Experts agree that the vaccine is not perfect, and some people who get it still get sick later. But it can reduce your risk of an outbreak. Your doctor can tell you whether you should get it and when.
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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.
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.
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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.
Key Points To Consider When Choosing A Shingles Supplement
Of course, you will be dubious, so were we. Many manufacturers of nutritional supplements make grand promises of renewed health, only to find out a month later, that there is no real change and you are left with an empty bottle, empty purse, and empty promises. Dont dismay, there are some that really do work, you just need to find a genuine product.
As soon as a new product hits the market, dozens of manufacturers appear, almost overnight, to try to jump on board. As a result, consumers need to be on the lookout for products that are watered down and quite frankly ineffective, promising results that are totally unrealistic and undeliverable.
When choosing a Shingles supplement, you should look for a company with a strong reputation, that sells a wide range of nutritional natural dietary health supplements. An effective supplement will be formulated using high-quality ingredients that have been proven effective in clinical trials such as L-lysine, B-vitamins, Zinc and Proteolytic Enzymes to name but a few, which will provide the most powerful results.
If you come across a company selling Shingles supplements using strong marketing terms or slogans, or are endorsed by famous celebrities, you should stay clear. If the company and product formula dont speak for themselves, then nothing else should.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Ive had chickenpox. Am I at risk of developing shingles?
- What is the best treatment for my shingles?
- The pain from shingles isnt going away. What can I do to make myself more comfortable?
- Im on treatment for shingles. When should I call my doctor if things dont get better?
- I have shingles and my children havent had the chickenpox vaccine. Should I get them vaccinated?
- Is the shingles vaccine right for me?
- Are there any risks associated with the shingles vaccine?
- Will my post-herpetic neuralgia ever go away?
- If Ive never had the chickenpox, should I still get the shingles vaccination?
If You Get The Shingles Vaccine Does This Mean Youre 100% Protected From Getting Shingles
No. Just like most vaccines, getting vaccinated with a shingles vaccine doesnt provide 100% protection from disease. However, getting the shingles vaccine reduces your risk of developing shingles.
Even if you do develop shingles, youll be more likely to have a mild case. Also, youll be much less likely to develop postherpetic neuralgia, a painful condition that can follow a shingles outbreak.
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How To Get Rid Of Shingles Fast And Naturally
Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This disease is very common. According to the Center for Disease Control, millions of people in the United States are reported to have it every year. And 30% of people will suffer from shingles in their lifetime. The vast majority of them are older people over the age of 60.
This virus is hard to remove, which can remain in your nervous tissue for a long time, even after successfully treating chickenpox. Usually, shingles occur when the virus becomes triggered again. In addition, the varicella-zoster virus can also result in chickenpox and cold sores.
Raw Banana And Mint Leaves Paste
- Take 3 to 4 raw, green bananas and a bunch of fresh mint leaves.
- Wash the bananas and mint leaves. Grind them to a paste.
- Gently apply the paste on the rashes. Repeat process every day for a week.
How does this work?
Bananas are loaded with Vitamin C, which is a great skin rejuvenator. It helps create collagen, which is responsible for giving skin tissue its structure. Bananas also enhance the skins elasticity and help remove wrinkles and scars.
The banana mint paste provides a protective coating for the skin and prevents it from drying. The Vitamin A present in bananas ensure that essential moisture is not lost by the skin when stricken with shingles, and the mint leaves act as an effective antimicrobial agent and help with the healing process.
The Remedy is not Good if:
- The infection is too severe and has reached an advanced stage.
- It cannot help cure the fever and chills associated with an attack of shingles.
- You attempt applying the paste on the eyes, which should not be done.
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Are There Alternative Treatments
Some studies show that various alternative treatments, from acupuncture to supplements, can offer relief. The research isnât complete, but some shows promise. Check with your doctor before you try any of these:
TENS . This therapy uses tiny electrical pulses to relieve pain. A TENS unit is about the size of a smartphone and comes with small patches called electrodes. You put them over the painful area and turn the unit on and off as your pain comes and goes.
Traditional Chinese medicine: These treatments aim to restore balance in your body. They include acupuncture, the ancient practice of inserting very thin needles into your skin at specific points. Also, moxibustion and cupping, two types of heat therapy, are supposed to draw out toxins. These treatments may be done in combination.
Creams and other skin treatments: A mixture of liquid dimethyl sulfoxide and idoxuridine, an antiviral drug, may reduce swelling and the number of blisters you have when you put it on your rash. And chlorophyll, the chemical that gives plants their green color, is also used directly on the rash as a cream or saline solution.
Supplements: Youâll find a long list of herbs, pills, and oils that claim to relieve shingles. Most have no research to back them up, but there are a couple of exceptions. Papain, a protein found in papayas, is sold in capsules. And manuka and clover honeys can be put directly on your skin. Very early studies on both show they may be helpful.
Shingles And Your Eyes
If the shingles rash breaks out on the face, near the eye, the vision may be affected. An ophthalmologist should be consulted right away when pain or other symptoms of shingles affect the eye or the area near the eye.
Shingles painand other symptoms from an outbreak of herpes zosterusually lasts between three to five weeks. Most people experience shingles once, but in some instances, people will continue to experience pain. When this happens, its called postherpetic neuralgia .
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When Shingles Strikes Your Face
Dozens of muscles line your face, and they help you talk, eat, blink, and wink. All those movements start with nerve impulses, and any nerve band can get hit with a shingles outbreak.
Just one side of the face is touched by the issue, and the blisters will not spread. If you touch the bumps on one side of your face and then touch the other, you can’t spread the problem around. The virus sits within the nerves, far below the skin, and you can’t influence how the infection spreads.
Your shingles may appear on or around your eyelid, and that can make blinking difficult or painful. Sometimes, the tissues swell, and that makes it hard for you to open your eye.
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.
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