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.
How To Prevent Transmission
You cant catch shingles, and you cant give shingles to someone else. But you can give others chickenpox.
After you have chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus stays dormant in your body. If this virus reactivates, shingles occurs. Its possible to transmit this virus to others who arent immune while the shingles rash is still active. You are contagious to others until all areas of the rash are dried up and crusted over.
To catch the varicella-zoster virus from you, a person has to have direct contact with your rash blisters.
You can help prevent your transmission of the varicella-zoster virus by:
- keeping the rash loosely covered
- practicing frequent handwashing
- avoiding contact with people who may not have had chickenpox or who havent been vaccinated against chickenpox
Last medically reviewed on August 24, 2017
- Cohen KR, et al. . Presentation and management of herpes zoster in the geriatric population.
What Does It Mean To Let Shingles Run Its Course
This refers to the typical course a shingles rash takes, even with antiviral treatment:
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What Outcome Can I Expect If I Have Postherpetic Pain
Theres no standard treatment for the symptoms of postherpetic pain . Depending on the severity of your pain, you may start with over-the-counter products. If your pain is more severe, one or more prescription medications may be tried. PHN is difficult to treat. Achieving a complete symptom-free state was achieved in less than half the patients with PHN, according to one study.
PHN tends to happen in older individuals who may have other health conditions, which can complicate treatment and results. Pain can last weeks, months and even longer than a year. In some people, the pain can be debilitating. In most people, PHN lessens with time.
A note from Cleveland ClinicThe best way to not get postherpetic neuralgia is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Varicella-zoster virus causes both chickenpox and shingles. Vaccines are available to protect against developing both of these viral infections.
Once you develop chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus remains in your body for life. If the virus reactivates and causes shingles, you have a few days around the rash outbreak to see your provider and get an antiviral medication, which can significantly lessen your symptoms. Still, if you develop PHN, your provider has many medications available to manage your symptoms.
What Else To Expect With Postherpetic Neuralgia
Not everyone with PHN will experience the same type of pain symptoms.Researchers found that patients with PHN report three major types of pain:
The length of time PHN lasts also varies. Many patients report symptoms lasting from one to three months, but some patints may experience symptoms up to a year or longer.6
Because you may have to live with a certain degree of pain and discomfort for many weeks or months if you have PHN, expect some effect on your daily living.
- Physical impacts: may include fatigue, weight loss, reduced mobility, physical inactivity, and insomnia.
- Psychological impacts: may include anxiety, emotional distress, depression, difficulty concentrating, and fear.
- Social impacts: may include withdrawing from social engagement, isolation, attending fewer social gatherings, loss of independence, change in social role.
- Functional impact: may include difficulty with daily tasks such as dressing, bathing, and eating, as well as activities such as cooking, shopping, and travelling.7
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What Causes Postherpetic Neuralgia
Postherpetic neuralgia results from damage to nerve fibers during shingles infection. The nerve fibers at the skin in the affected area send exaggerated pain signals to your brain. Postherpetic neuralgia means nerve pain after herpes. Shingles is also called herpes zoster.
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the virus that causes chickenpox. Once youve had chickenpox, the virus remains in your body for your entire life, but is dormant or silent for years. When the virus becomes reactivated, it causes shingles. A certain percentage of people who get shingles develop PHN.
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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When To Seek Care
Early shingles symptoms, such as pain or flu-like feelings, are not obvious signs of a shingles outbreak.
Once a rash appears, you should see your primary care physician or a dermatologist. A trained eye can often diagnose shingles by visually inspecting the rash.
If you have shingles, you may never experience the extreme pain that can often come with it. You may only feel itching and some minor discomfort.
Even without the painful symptoms of shingles, its recommended that you see a healthcare professional and start antiviral treatment within 72 hours of a rashs appearance.
Its especially important to seek prompt medical care if a rash forms near one or both eyes. Shingles in the eye may cause permanent vision loss.
Why Doesnt Having Chickenpox Earlier In Life Provide Immunity Against Having Shingles Later
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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Are There Alternative Treatments
Some studies show that various alternative treatments, from acupuncture to supplements, can offer relief. The research isnÃ¢t 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: YouÃ¢ll 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.
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.
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What If I Have Shingles And A Poor Immune System
If you have a poor immune system and develop shingles then see your doctor straightaway. You will normally be given antiviral medication whatever your age and will be monitored for complications. People with a poor immune system include:
- People taking high-dose steroids. per day for more than one week in the previous three months. Or, children who have taken steroids within the previous three months, equivalent to prednisolone 2 mg/kg per day for at least one week, or 1 mg/kg per day for one month.)
- People on lower doses of steroids in combination with other immunosuppressant medicines.
- People taking anti-arthritis medications which can affect the bone marrow.
- People being treated with chemotherapy or generalised radiotherapy, or who have had these treatments within the previous six months.
- People who have had an organ transplant and are on immunosuppressive treatment.
- People who have had a bone marrow transplant and who are still immunosuppressed.
- People with an impaired immune system.
- People who are immunosuppressed with HIV infection.
Have Shingles Get Treatment Take Action
If you have shingles, its important to talk to your doctor about your risk for developing PHN. Ask whether preventative treatment with antiviral drugs makes sense. If your doctor says its not necessary, ask why.
The full implications of the psychological risk factors for PHN arent clear yet, says Dworkin. But he suggests that people with shingles should try to stay active and connected.
If psychological distress is a risk factor for PHN, he says, then we think that people who have shingles might benefit from getting out and not being isolated and homebound.
You might make an effort to stay connected to family and friends and not to dwell on your symptoms. Also, keep in mind that even if you do develop PHN, there are treatments that can help.
We have about a half dozen types of drugs that are used as first-line treatments for PHN, says Dworkin. They include lidocaine patch , pregabalin , gabapentin , capsaicin , carbamazepine , tricyclic antidepressants, and painkillers.
The most important thing is to get prompt medical attention if you think you might have shingles.
If you have a one-sided rash especially if youre over 50 see your doctor right away, says Dworkin. It could be shingles. And we know that prompt treatment can dramatically reduce the likelihood of developing long-term pain.
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How Common Is Postherpetic Neuralgia
Varicella-zoster virus causes both chickenpox and shingles. About 99% of Americans over age 40 have had chickenpox. About one in three people in the U.S. develop shingles in their lifetime. Some 10 to 18% of people who get shingles will develop postherpetic neuralgia. Postherpetic neuralgia is the most common complication of shingles.
Will Shingles Go Away On Its Own
Shingles isnt life-threatening, but it can be incredibly painful and, in some cases, complications can arise. While this rash typically goes away its own, prompt treatment can reduce your pain and help shingles go away faster.
Several antivirals can be used to treat shingles. These drugs can help you heal more quickly and reduce your pain, but they are most effective when started within 72 hours of your rash appearing. This means its important to see your doctor as soon as you suspect shingles, says Dr. Brown. When it comes to the pain associated with shingles, most people are able to manage it using over-the-counter pain relievers. But, pain can be severe for some people. In these cases, your doctor can prescribe stronger pain medications.
Beyond treating your immediate pain and rash, seeing your doctor is also important since serious complications can occur as a result of shingles, such as:
- Postherpetic neuralgia pain that lasts for months to years after the rash clears, with this pain being debilitating in some cases
- Skin infection occurs if the open sores of your rash become infected with bacteria, which can require antibiotics and delay healing
- Vision problems while rare, if your rash develops near your eye, the associated inflammation can damage your retina and, in some cases, result in vision loss
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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.
How Painful Is Shingles On A Scale Of 1 To 10
Shingles is extremely painful, Wigand-Bolling said. On a scale from one to 10, most patients will say the pain ranges from six to 10. Between 1 and 5 days after the first symptoms occur, a rash will develop in the affected area.
Do I need to wash my sheets if I have shingles? Avoid touching the rash area. You can also prevent spread by washing sheets and clothing of infected per- son in hot soapy water daily, and washing hands often when around someone with shingles.
How do you catch shingles?
The blisters that develop as a result of shingles contain virus particles. If you have not had chickenpox before, you can catch it from direct contact with the fluid from the blisters of someone who has shingles, or from something that has the fluid on it, such as bed sheets or a towel.
Should I wash my sheets after shingles? 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.
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Are There Treatments For Postherpetic Neuralgia
These are FDA-approved treatments that are considered to be first-choice medications for PHN pain:
patches, which act locally to numb pain
Anticonvulsants like and , which calm down irregular nerve signals that may be causing pain
A combination of pill and patch is often used, like pregabalin with a lidocaine patch.
Other medications that providers might used to treat PHN pain include:
Antidepressants like and , which help your brain process pain differently
Capsaicin patches , which researchers believe may desensitize the body to pain
Researchers continue to search for new treatments, too. A recent study that reviewed data from four clinical trials, for example, showed that vitamin B12 injections reduced pain and the need for pain medications in folks with post herpetic neuralgia. It even worked better than lidocaine. Worth talking to your doc about.
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Who Is At Risk For Getting Shingles
People who have had chickenpox who are more likely to develop shingles include those:
- With a weakened immune system .
- Over the age of 50.
- Who have been ill.
- Who have experienced trauma.
- Who are under stress.
The chickenpox virus doesnt leave your body after you have chickenpox. Instead, the virus stays in a portion of your spinal nerve root called the dorsal root ganglion. For the majority of people, the virus stays there quietly and doesn’t cause problems. Researchers aren’t always sure why the virus gets reactivated, but this typically occurs at times of stress.
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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.
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What Causes Skin To Itch
If youre experiencing itching, its most likely that something is causing your skin to itch. Skin itchiness is common in the summertime, when the weather gets hot and dry. It can also occur during other times of the year, but its more likely to happen in the fall and winter. There are a few things that can cause skin itchiness.
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