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What To Do When You Get Shingles

If My Shingles Rash Is Mild Or Has Mostly Healed Do I Need To See A Doctor

Shingles: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment with Dr. Mark Shalauta | San Diego Health

Its a good idea to see a doctor whenever you have a case of shingles, no matter how mild.

Prompt antiviral treatment not only decreases the duration and severity of the rash but can also decrease the chance of developing post-herpetic neuralgia. Post-herpetic neuralgia is a complication of shingles characterized by long-term, debilitating pain.

If your rash has mostly healed, its still a good idea to see a doctor so they can monitor the rash for changes or complications, such as a bacterial skin infection that forms on top of your existing rash. This is known as a superimposed infection.

Can I Give Shingles To Others

No one can catch shingles from you. But the virus can be spread to a person who has never had chickenpox. The virus lives in the blisters that shingles causes. It can be spread until the blisters are completely healed. If you have blisters that have not crusted over yet, you should stay away from:

  • Anyone who has never had chickenpox
  • Babies under 12 months old
  • Very sick people

Tell your doctor if you live with children who have not had chickenpox. They may need to be vaccinated.

Check If You Have Shingles

The first signs of shingles can be:

  • a tingling or painful feeling in an area of skin
  • a headache or feeling generally unwell

A rash will appear a few days later.

Usually you get the shingles rash on your chest and tummy, but it can appear anywhere on your body including on your face, eyes and genitals.

The rash appears as blotches on your skin, on 1 side of your body only. A rash on both the left and right of your body is unlikely to be shingles.

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Shingles Vaccine Reduces Your Risk Of Getting Shingles

While there is no cure for shingles, getting the shingles vaccine can greatly reduce your risk of getting this disease.

Shingles vaccine reduces risk

The CDC recommends the shingles vaccine for healthy adults who are 50 years of age or older.

If you think you may already have shingles, treatment is important. It can reduce your pain and how long the rash lasts.

Find out how dermatologists diagnose and treat this condition at, Shingles: Diagnosis and treatment.

3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Prevent Shingles: Get vaccinated. Page last reviewed July 23, 2018. Last accessed March 28, 2019.

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ReferencesCenters for Disease Control and Prevention . Prevent Shingles: Get vaccinated. Page last reviewed July 23, 2018. Last accessed March 28, 2019.

Dooling KL, Guo A, et al. Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for Use of Herpes Zoster Vaccines. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018 67:103-8.

When Should I See My Doctor

Check if you have shingles

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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Can You Get Shingles More Than Once

Although possible, its rare to experience shingles more than once. In a 2019 study , researchers found the reoccurrence rate of shingles was 5.3 percent over an average of a 4.4-year follow-up period.

The researchers found that experiencing shingles that lasted more than 30 days significantly increased the risk of reoccurrence. Other risk factors were:

Treat Your Body And Mind

You can get worn down mentally when youâre in constant pain. Stress can make it seem even worse. Self-care starts with treating your rash, but donât stop there. Your mind and emotional state need to be cared for as well.

5. Stick with good habits: Your bodyâs working hard to fight the varicella-zoster virus that causes shingles. To give it the right support, you can:

  • Eat nutritious food and have regular meals. Ask someone to make a run to the grocery store for fresh fruit and such if youâre not up for it.
  • Try to get a good nightâs sleep and rest anytime you need to.
  • Do gentle exercises, such as walking or stretching. Light activity can help take your mind off the pain. Keep it simple though, and check with your doctor if youâre trying something new.

6. Distract yourself: Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to put your focus elsewhere. Here are a few things to try:

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Assess Your Pain Levels

In general, most people with active shingles infections can perform daily activities as tolerated, but rating your pain can help you decide when to do a specific exercise or activity and when to avoid it. Consider using a numerical pain rating scale, which has you rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst possible pain.

Make a note of your pain level each day and if a particular activity worsened it. Consider writing it down in a journal or as a note in your phone. That way, you can track which activities affect your pain levels and adjust accordingly.

Articles On Shingles Treatment

How to treat shingles

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.

Your doctor may want to put you on medications to control your infection and speed up healing, cut inflammation, and ease your pain. They include:

Read Also: What Can Trigger Shingles Outbreak

How To Cure Shingles In 3 Days

If you want to cure your shingles quickly without much so much struggle, you must activate your body to fight the virus varicella Zoster in the below discussed two ways:

  • Use anti-itching and anti-inflammatory medications such as lotions and creams outside the skin this will facilitate healing from outside the skin.
  • Make regular consumption of essential nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, and enzyme supplements that will help to strengthen your bodys immune system. A strong body immune system will be able to destroy the shingles virus varicella-zoster.

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.

Also Check: How Can I Get Rid Of Shingles

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. They will crust over and fall off on their own if you leave them alone.
  • Put cool, wet cloths on the area to relieve pain and itching. You can also use calamine lotion. Try not to use so much lotion that it cakes and is hard to get off.
  • Put cornstarch or baking soda on the sores to help dry them out so they heal faster.
  • Do not use thick ointment, such as petroleum jelly, on the sores. This will keep them from drying and healing.
  • To help remove loose crusts, soak them in tap water. This can help decrease oozing, and dry and soothe the skin.
  • 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. Pregnant women, young babies, and anyone else who has a hard time fighting infection is especially at risk.

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Where Does Shingles Come From

Shingles and Shingrix, Everything People Need to Know

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.

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Can You Do Regular Activities With Shingles

Whether or not you can continue with your regular activities while dealing with an active shingles infection depends on how you feel and whether youre still contagious.

Some people experience minor symptoms, while others have severe pain, itching, burning, and widespread, fluid-filled blisters for several weeks.

If your rash is oozing, you can spread shingles to other people. If the rash hasnt scabbed over yet, and its in an area that cant be covered, consider:

  • staying home from work, school, or other daily activities where you interact with others
  • avoiding contact sports and swimming
  • not sharing towels, blankets, or clothes without washing them first

Additionally, shingles can cause flu-like symptoms like fever, headache, and upset stomach, which can derail your regular daily activities.

How Do You Get Shingles

You may have heard about shingles from commercials advertising a vaccine but do you know what it is and how you become infected?

Shingles is known to the medical community as the Herpes Zoster virus. It is actually the reactivation of a previous infection of chicken pox, the Varicella Zoster virus. After a person recovers from chicken pox, the virus lays dormant or inactive in the body, usually in the nerve roots that control sensation. For reasons unknown to scientists, the virus reactivates. This results in a painful, yet localized skin rash with blisters that usually follow a single nerve distribution originating at the spine. Because of this very characteristic pattern, it will only be present on one side of the body.

Risk factors for contracting shingles are common, and most people in the community have one or more these risk factors. The risk factor that most people have in common is a history of chicken pox infection or inoculation with the chicken pox vaccine, because now the person may carry the herpes zoster virus that causes shingles. Individuals over 50, and those who are immunosuppressed due to conditions such as HIV, cancer, or organ transplants have a greater chance of getting shingles. As well as those who have decreased ability to fight infection due to stress or other immune deficiencies. However, the bottom line is that the majority of the individuals who contract shingles are relatively healthy individuals.

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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.

Is A Vaccine Available To Prevent Shingles

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

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 your 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.

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How Do Dermatologists Treat Shingles

An antiviral medication can:

  • Reduce the amount of time that you have a shingles rash

  • Lower your risk of developing long-lasting nerve pain and other health problems

One of three antiviral medications is usually prescribedacyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir.

To treat your symptoms, dermatologists typically recommend the following:

Pain: Medication that you can buy without a prescription can help, such as:

If you have severe pain, your dermatologist may prescribe a medication that reduces inflammation, such as a corticosteroid.

When Should I Get The Shingles Vaccine

The current shingles vaccine is a safe, easy, and more effective way to prevent shingles than the previous vaccine. In fact, it is over 90% effective at preventing shingles. Most adults age 50 and older should get vaccinated with the shingles vaccine, which is given in two doses. You can get the shingles vaccine at your doctors office and at some pharmacies.

You should get the shingles vaccine if you:

  • Have already had chickenpox, the chickenpox vaccine, or shingles
  • Received the prior shingles vaccine called Zostavax
  • Dont remember having had chickenpox

Medicare Part D and private health insurance plans may cover some or all of the cost. Check with Medicare or your health plan to find out if it is covered.

You should not get vaccinated if you:

  • Currently have shingles
  • Are sick or have a fever
  • Had an allergic reaction to a previous dose of the shingles vaccine

If you are unsure about the above criteria or have other health concerns, talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine.

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What Can I Do To Help Prevent Shingles Or A Shingles Outbreak

  • A vaccine may be given to help prevent shingles. You can get the vaccine even if you already had shingles. The vaccine comes in 2 forms. A 2-dose vaccine is usually given to adults 50 years or older. A 1-dose vaccine may be given to adults 60 years or older.
  • The vaccine can help prevent a future outbreak. If you do get shingles again, the vaccine can keep it from becoming severe. Ask your healthcare provider about other vaccines you may need.

Why Doesnt Having Chickenpox Earlier In Life Provide Immunity Against Having Shingles Later

Can You Get Shingles More Than Once?

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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When Should You See A Healthcare Provider For Shingles

If you experience persistent pain or a widespread itchy rash on the body or face, you should reach out to your healthcare provider. The National Institute of Aging recommends that you see your healthcare provider no later than three days after the rash or skin pain has appeared.

Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to reducing your risk for complications, helping you to heal quicker and reduce the potential for scarring.

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A Word About The Shingles Vaccine

If you are age 60 or over and have not had shingles, talk to your doctor about getting the shingles vaccine. Not only will it reduce your risk of developing shingles, but if you do develop shingles, youll be more likely to have a mild case. And, just as important, youll be much less likely to develop PHN if youve had the vaccine.

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Apple Cider Vinegar For Shingles

Apple cider vinegar is one of the most useful home remedies around. Its a natural antiseptic that can clean those shingles sores and speed up the scabbing process. Honey makes the perfect pairing with the vinegar, as it thickens the solution and takes some of the sting out of the vinegar. Heres how to make a natural healing paste at home: Mix a half cup of warm honey with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Apply it to sores with a soft cloth and let it sit for just a few minutes. It may sting a little as it disinfects. Rinse off with lukewarm water and repeat as often as you like.

Also Check: How Do You Know If Your Getting Shingles

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