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.
Shingles Vaccine Side Effects
The shingles vaccine has not been shown to cause any serious side effects or health consequences. Minor side effects of the vaccine include redness, swelling, soreness, or itching at the site of injection, and headache. It is safe for those who have received the shingles vaccine to be around babies or those with weakened immune systems. It has not been shown that a person can develop chickenpox from getting the shingles vaccine, although some people who receive the vaccine may develop a mild chickenpox-like rash near the injection site. This rash should be kept covered and will disappear on its own.
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.
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How Long Does It Take For Shingles To Progress
Shingles progresses into blisters over three to five days and begins to crust over after seven to ten days. The rash is preceded by a prodromal phase lasting 48-72 hours or longer, consisting of throbbing pain and numbness in the area affecting the nerve. Once the rash blisters, it can last another three to five days before the lesions scab over.
After the lesions crust over, it may take two to four weeks to heal completely. At this time, pain may still be present. The most painful stage of shingles is when you have fluid-filled blisters. This usually occurs three to five days after the rash first appears.
What Does Shingles Look Like
My shingles rash looked like someone had put a cigarette out on my eyelid. Frankly, I bet that would be less painful.
You would have thought by now I wouldve caught on but I never really realized that young people can get shingles. It just never crossed my mind. If I had simply done an internet search of my symptoms, it wouldve been obvious what I had.
According to Healthline:
You may begin to notice pink or red blotchy patches on one side of your body. These patches cluster along nerve pathways The rash quickly develops fluid-filled blisters similar to chickenpox. They may be accompanied by itching. New blisters continue to develop for several days. Blisters appear over a localized area and do not spread over your whole body.
Shingles also commonly has a rash that wraps around half of your waist, which people sometimes call the shingles belt or shingles girdle. Lovely. Id never heard of that, but I am also not over 70, and I assume these terms are more popular in that age bracket.
Developing shingles on your face, like I did, is common. Its also common to get them on your neck and torso though there are lots of other possibilities. And no matter where they look truly ugly and disgusting. More importantly, those blisters hurt. Its deep down nerve pain.
Heres what my shingles looked like around my eye :
So I didnt catch all those initial symptoms of shingles, but my doctor did.
Yeah, youve got shingles, my doctor told me.
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What Causes Eye Shingles
Before we take a closer look at shingles affecting the eye , lets talk about what causes shingles in the first place: the chickenpox virus.
As an adult, you may have a hazy memory of spending a week in bed, your itchy body dotted in pink calamine lotion as you binged on daytime TV and ate popsicles by the box.
The blisters may be long gone, but the chickenpox virus still lies dormant in your body.
About one in three U.S. adults will get shingles when the varicella-zoster virus that sparked their childhood chickenpox reactivates in the body, according to Mayo Clinic.
Shingles typically starts out as a band of tenderness or tingling on your skin and then turns into a painful rash.
People will tell you, It was the worst pain I ever had, Rapuano says.
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What Is The Outlook
If you have a particularly severe case of shingles, it could take months to go away. It can also become a long-term problem for some people. If you have postherpetic neuralgia, you may need to see your doctor more often.
Complications that involve the eye or ear may require ongoing care, especially if you have lingering vision or hearing problems.
Most people have shingles only once, but it can recur. This is more likely to happen if you have a weakened immune system.
If you havent had any major complications, your symptoms should clear up within a matter of weeks with few, if any, lasting effects.
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The pain was my constant companion which made me feel very melodramatic and like a Brontë character. I made it to the local garden center and nursery without incident. I needed to look at something fresh and vibrant.
Then, as I took off my sunglasses to inspect a potted plant, I heard a kid ask him mom. What happened to her eye, mama? Whats wrong with her eye?
If I had been in possession of a velvet cape to twirl about myself as I skulked off into the darkness, believe me, I wouldve.
But I didnt. So instead, I pocketed my sunglasses and smiled at the kid in question.
Do you know chicken pox? This is shingles, and its chicken pox for grown ups, I told him with a smile on my crusty face.
He considered this as his mom squirmed. Do you get to stay home? he asked.
I nodded Yup. And watch TV.
In just a matter of seconds Id gone from the Beast to a source of envy.
As I write this, Im still blistery and keeping a relatively low profile, but Im no longer housebound. Im also no longer avoiding my reflection. I look and assess and I dont see good or bad or pretty or ugly.
I just see a face, and if I look super close I can almost make out myself.
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What Does Shingles Look Like 11 Shingles Pictures Of Rashes
Do you have an itchy red rash? Think you might have shingles?
Iâll show you shingles pictures to help you figure out if you have the shingles rash and what stage its in. Iâll also provide pictures of especially extreme cases and discuss what to do if you have one of these more dangerous rashes.
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Symptoms Of Chicken Pox
What are symptoms of chicken pox and what does chicken pox look like? The rash from chicken pox is what separates it from most other diseases. The blisters look like dew drops scattered on skin. They are in a lot of different phases. Some are just coming on, others are more fully formed and others are crusted and drying up, Murase said.
The rash can cause 250 to 500 itchy blisters that start on the chest, back and face before spreading to the rest of the body, according to the CDC.
Chicken pox in adults is serious the older you are the more serious it can be, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology . Its also dangerous for babies, adolescents, pregnant women and immunocompromised people, the CDC says.
What Are The Stages Of Shingles Symptoms
There are no formal, clinical stages of shingles, but symptoms generally fall into three stages. Beginning to end, shingles can last 24 weeks.
Contact your doctor right away if you have symptoms of shingles. Early treatment with antiviral medication may help lessen the severity, speed recovery time, and lower the potential for complications.
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Stay Away From Certain Groups Of People If You Have Shingles
You cannot spread shingles to others. But people who have not had chickenpox before could catch chickenpox from you.
This is because shingles is caused by the chickenpox virus.
Try to avoid:
- pregnant people who have not had chickenpox before
- people with a weakened immune system like someone having chemotherapy
- babies less than 1 month old unless you gave birth to them, as your baby should be protected from the virus by your immune system
Common Symptoms Of Shingles
The most common symptoms of shingles are:
- sensation of an itching, tingling, or severe burning or shooting pain that precedes a rash
- painful rash in a band or patch-like shape over the affected area
- fluid-filled blisters that eventually dry out, crust over, and heal
Other symptoms may include chills, upset stomach, fever, and headache.
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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 Shingles Symptoms Come Next
After about 1 to 5 days, a shingles rash will appear on one side of the body, often in a single characteristic band around one side of the torso or face.
The painful rash will then form itchy or burning blister-like sores filled with a clear fluid. The blisters will scab over in 7 to 10 days. Theyll gradually grow smaller before disappearing.
Shingles rash symptoms commonly last between 2 to 4 weeks.
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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 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:
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Dont Shrug Off Shingles
- By Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Mens Health Watch
ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
If you had chickenpox as a kid, there is a good chance you may develop shingles later in life. In fact, one in three is predicted to get shingles during their lifetime, says Dr. Anne Louise Oaklander, director of the Nerve Unit at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
The same varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox also causes shingles. After the telltale spots of chickenpox vanish, the virus lies dormant in your nerve cells near the spinal cord and brain. When your immunity weakens from normal aging or from illnesses or medications, the virus can re-emerge. It then travels along a nerve to trigger a rash in the skin connected to that nerve. The rash often appears on only one side of your body. The most common locations are the chest, back, or stomach, or above one eye.
Is A Vaccine Available To Prevent Shingles
Two vaccines are available in the United States to reduce your chance of developing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. One vaccine, Zostavax®, has been available since 2006. The second vaccine, Shingrix®, has been available since 2017. Shingrix is recommended as the preferred vaccine by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of medical and public health experts.
Shingrix® is given as a two-dose shot in the upper arm. You should receive the second dose two to six months after receiving the first. Shingrix has been shown to be more than 90% effective in preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. Its effectiveness remains above 85% for at least four years after receiving the vaccine.
Due to high levels of demand for the Shingrix vaccine and a supply shortage, the vaccine manufacturer is managing the timing and distribution of the vaccine throughout the United States. It plans to continue to manage the availability of the vaccine and hopes to make available the same or increased number of doses and to shorten the wait time for delivery this year .
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Shingles
Often the first shingles symptoms happen in the area where the rash will appear. A person may have tingling, itching, or pain in this area. When the rash shows up, the pain may be mild or severe.
The rash starts as groups of tiny pimples on one side of the body or the face. Its often in the shape of a band or belt. The pimples change to pus-filled blisters that break open and scab over in about 710 days. The scabs usually heal and fall off about 24 weeks after the rash starts.
Some kids with shingles also may have a fever and a headache, and might feel tired and achy. Rarely, a child has the pain of shingles without the rash. More severe symptoms can happen, but usually in people over age 50.
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When To See A Doctor
If you suspect you have shingles, you should see a doctor right away. You can then begin appropriate treatment that will help relieve your symptoms, speed your recovery, and lower your risk of complications. This is especially important if you:
- Are over age 60
- Have a condition that has caused you to have a weakened immune system, such as HIV
- Take medication that may diminish your bodys immune response
- You share a home with someone who has a weakened immune system
- The rash is on your face: Blisters near your eye could lead to serious eye damage or even cause you to lose sight in that eye.
Shingles Doctor Discussion Guide
If while youre dealing with shingles you experience any of the following, let the doctor whos treating you know right away:
- You arent getting relief from the pain with treatment.
- The pain doesnt go away after three to four weeks.
- The rash spreads beyond the initial area.
- You begin to have symptoms of a secondary infection, such as a very high fever, chills, and severe headache.
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Shingles Symptoms: The Rash
The rash associated with herpes zoster begins as small blisters in a reddish background. New blisters form for the next few days, usually 3 to 5 days. Blisters emerge in a path of individual nerves in a specific ray-like distribution called a dermatomal pattern. Blisters tend to break out in a band-like pattern over an area of skin.
How Is Shingles Treated
Treatment is most effective when initiated within 72 hours of the appearance of the rash. Antiviral drugs can help recover faster and reduce the risk of complications.
Shingles rash and blisters can cause severe pain and may not reduce with over-the-counter pain medication. Treatment of pain includes:
- Antiseizure medicines
- Medicated lotions to reduce pain and itching
- Over-the-counter pain killers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
- Prescription painkillers such as codeine for intense pain
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Have A Rash Go To The Doctor
If you think you might have shingles, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Its important to see your doctor no later than three days after the rash starts. The doctor will confirm whether or not you have shingles and can make a treatment plan. If you have a condition that weakens the immune system, the doctor may give you a shingles test. The shingles test can also help doctors diagnose shingles in people who dont have a rash. Although there is no cure for shingles, early treatment with drugs that fight the virus can help the blisters dry up faster and limit severe pain. Shingles can often be treated at home. People with shingles rarely need to stay in a hospital.