Can You Get Shingles More Than Once
VZV usually remains dormant in the body, but about 1 in 3 people who have had chickenpox will have a shingles outbreak in their lifetime. Most people develop shingles at one time in their lives, but it is possible to have more than one outbreak, especially if you have one or more risk factors predisposing you to VZV reactivation.
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.
Is Stress A Risk Factor For Shingles
You may have heard that someone got shingles because they were stressed, perhaps after the death of a relative, soon after a divorce, or at the end of a difficult semester at school.
Clinical Infectious Diseases
Theres some controversy about the matter, says Safdieh. We know for a fact that stress can have an impact on the function of the immune system. If theres stress, immunity is depressed, and I certainly see patients who tell me they were having a lot of stress when they got shingles. But, he adds, there are many people who are stressed and dont get shingles, and many people who get them while theyre on vacation.
If there is a link between stress and shingles, its probably not that the stress itself is putting a strain on the immune system it may be that stress creates conditions that lower immunity. Keep in mind, says Safdieh, that when youre stressed, you dont sleep and you dont eat, and all these factors can play a role.
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How Is Postherpetic Neuralgia Treated
Treatments include lotions or creams and/or other medications not specifically used for pain, such as antidepressants or drugs for epilepsy. Regular pain relievers are not usually effective for this type of pain.
If your pain doesnt lessen, you might try therapies like nerve blocks or steroid injections near the area where the nerves exit the spine. Your provider might suggest an implantable nerve stimulator device for severe, ongoing pain that hasnt responded to other treatments.
How Long Is Shingles Contagious
Similar to chickenpox, shingles is a contagious illness. But, before we address how long you may be contagious, we need to talk about how shingles spreads which might actually surprise you.
“Shingles is indeed contagious, but it can only be spread to people who haven’t yet had chickenpox, or the chickenpox vaccine. In these cases, the shingles virus typically spreads via direct contact with the opened blisters of your rash. After being infected, a person doesn’t develop shingles, though he or she develops chickenpox,” explains Dr. Brown.
Since you can’t really know who is and who isn’t susceptible to chickenpox, it’s important to take safety measures if you have shingles.
“When you have shingles, you’re considered contagious until your open sores crust and scab over. This generally takes between 7 to 10 days,” says Dr. Brown. “Depending on where your rash develops on your body and where you work, you may be able to return to work before your shingles dry up.”
Before your rash dries up, Dr. Brown recommends the following to prevent spreading shingles to others:
- Make sure your rash is covered with gauze
- Limit interaction with other people if your shingles rash is on your face
- Consult with your doctor about returning to work if you work in a medical setting or nursing home, as well as if you interact with people frequently while at work
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How Can I Take Care Of Myself
- Take a pain-relief medicine such as acetaminophen. Take other medicine as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
- Put cool, moist washcloths on the rash.
- Rest in bed during the early stages if you have fever and other symptoms.
- Try not to let clothing or bed linens rub against the rash and irritate it.
- You develop worsening pain or fever.
- You develop a severe headache, stiff neck, hearing loss, or changes in your ability to think.
- The blisters show signs of bacterial infection, such as increasing pain or redness, or milky yellow drainage from the blister sites.
- The blisters are close to the eyes or you have pain in your eyes or trouble seeing.
- You have trouble walking.
When Should I See My Doctor
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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Diagnosing Chickenpox And Shingles
The doctor will usually be able to diagnose chickenpox or shingles by inspecting the rash and marks, noting your signs and symptoms, and asking you about your vaccination history. They can also do several tests to confirm that you have the varicella virus, such as:
- Blood test: A needle is inserted into a vein and a vial of blood is removed. The blood is then tested for the varicella virus or its antibodies.
- Blister test: A fluid sample is taken from a blister with a cotton swab. Its then tested for varicella or antibody properties.
If you think you or your child could have chickenpox, contact your doctor. Since chickenpox is highly contagious, the doctors office may have procedures that safeguard against infection. Its best to call first and inform them about your reason for visiting.
If You Have More Than One Area Of Blisters What Can You Expect If You Go To The Hospital
Its important to note that most people with shingles dont need to be in a hospital, but if you do:
- Youll be in a contact isolation room.
- The door will be kept closed.
- A sign on your door will remind people who have never had chickenpox or the vaccine not to enter.
- The sign will also remind staff to wear gowns and gloves when entering the room.
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What Causes Shingles To Activate
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a painful band-like rash caused by reactivation of varicella zoster virus , the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles affects the nerves and skin, causing an itchy, scaly rash that is flat in appearance. Itching these rashes can lead to scarring and scabs on the infected area.
Shingles are quite commonit is estimated that up to 1 in 3 people will have at least one episode of shingles during their life. VZV usually hangs around harmlessly in the body, but reactivation is more common in those more than 50 years old, with a weakened immune system, or those who are experiencing physical or emotional stress.
This article addresses what causes shingles to activate.
Halfpoint Images / Getty Images
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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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.
How Is Shingles Treated
Specific treatment for shingles will be determined by your healthcare provider based on:
- Your age, overall health, and medical history
- How long the shingles have been present
- Extent of the condition
- Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the condition
- Your opinion or preference
There is no cure for shingles. It simply has to run its course. Treatment focuses on pain relief. Painkillers may help relieve some of the pain. Antiviral drugs may help lessen some of the symptoms and reduce nerve damage. Other treatments may include:
- Creams or lotions to help relieve itching
- Cool compresses applied to affected skin areas
- Antiviral medicines
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Shingles: What Triggers This Painful Burning Rash
If youre like 95% of American adults, you had chickenpox as a kid. Before the United States started its widespread vaccination program in 1995, there were roughly four million cases of chickenpox every year. So, most people suffered through an infection with this highly contagious virus and its itchy, whole-body rash.
But unlike many childhood viruses, the varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox doesnt clear from the body when the illness ends. Instead it hangs around, taking up residence and lying dormant in the nerves, sometimes for decades, with the immune system holding it in check. In some people, it lives there harmlessly for the rest of their life. But in others, the virus can suddenly emerge and strike again, this time appearing as a different condition known as shingles.
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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How Can I Protect Myself From Shingles
There are steps you can take to protect yourself from getting shingles, including getting vaccinated. The shingles vaccine is recommended for everyone over the age of 60 and to anyone who has had chickenpox in the past. Patients who have not had chickenpox will want to avoid contact with anyone who does to reduce their risk of dealing with shingles in the future.
Do You Always Get The Typical Rash If You Have Shingles
Occasionally, some people dont get a rash. If you have any of the other symptoms of shingles , see your healthcare provider sooner rather than later. There are effective treatments you can take early for shingles. Even if you dont have shingles, seeing your healthcare provider will help you get your condition diagnosed and treated.
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Can You Still Develop Shingles If Youve Been Vaccinated For Chickenpox
Yes. Despite being vaccinated for chickenpox, you can still get shingles. No vaccine is 100% protective, and the effectiveness of vaccines lessens with time. However, people who get the chickenpox vaccine are significantly less likely to develop shingles later in life compared with people who never received the chickenpox vaccine. One recent 12-year study found that the number of shingles cases was 72% lower in children who had received the chickenpox vaccine compared with those who didnt.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Shingles
The varicella-zoster virus the virus that causes chicken pox and shingles is part of a group of viruses called herpes viruses. This group also includes the viruses that cause cold sores and genital herpes.
If youve had chicken pox, you can get shingles. After the chicken pox is over, varicella-zoster lies inactive, mainly in spinal or cranial nerves. Sometimes the virus reactivates, and thats when it travels along the nerves to erupt as a rash on your skin, causing shingles.
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What Should I Do If I Think I Have Shingles
If you think you have shingles, see your doctor right away. Early treatment can help reduce the severity of your symptoms. There is no cure for shingles, but medications can help relieve pain and shorten the length of the outbreak. Most people who get shingles will recover completely within a few weeks, but some people may develop long-term complications, such as pain, numbness, or vision problems.
What Should You Expect If You Get Shingles
Shingles can be a very painful condition. If you think you have the symptoms of shingles, see your healthcare provider right away. Starting antiviral medications early can ease your discomfort and end symptoms earlier.
A better approach to shingles is to take action and do what you can to lessen your risk of getting it. If you’ve never had shingles in the past, talk to your healthcare provider about getting the shingles vaccine. If youve never had chickenpox, talk with your healthcare provider about getting the chickenpox vaccine.
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Things To Know About The Shingles Virus
Intense pain, burning, tingling and a blistering rash these are some of the common symptoms of shingles.
If youve ever had chicken pox, the varicella-zoster virus that causes shingles is dormant in your nerve tissue.
So what causes shingles to spring to life wreaking havoc on your body and what can you do about it? Here are seven things you should know about the shingles virus.
1. Shingles is chicken pox coming back to get you
2. A common cold could trigger shingles
3. You can get shingles more than once
4. You cant give someone shingles
5. Vaccination can prevent shingles
6. Treatment options vary
7. Its rare but shingles can cause blindness
Randell Wexler is an associate professor of family medicine at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Can Shingles Come Back
Given that shingles results from the varicella zoster virus reactivating some amount of time after having chickenpox, you may be wondering if the virus can…re-reactivate after having shingles.
“Once shingles clears up, the virus simply goes back into hiding and, unfortunately, it can reactivate again in the future,” says Dr. Brown. “As far as the likelihood of shingles reoccurring, that’s still largely up for debate. One study found that the chance of getting shingles a second time is about 5%, but other studies show this number to be lower.”
One way to reduce your risk of getting shingles twice is the same preventive measure that helps prevent you from ever getting it in the first place: the shingles vaccine.
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How Do You Get Shingles
While the exact cause of shingles is unknown, experts do know that the virus can remain inactive in nerve tissues near the spinal cord and brain for decades, Dr. Grahling says. We believe that it may recur so many years later if a person has a lowered immunity due to infections that comes with age or has a weakened immune system due to medical treatments or a disease.
For all these reasons, its important to speak to your medical provider, especially if you dont remember if you had chickenpox as a child. A varicella titer test can tell you if youve been exposed to the virus in the past.
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.
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