Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Why Do People Get Shingles

Is Chickenpox And Shingles A Form Of Herpes

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

Though shingles and herpes are two distinct conditions caused by two distinct viruses, the viruses are both members of a family formally known as herpesviridae. The herpes simplex virus takes its formal name from this umbrella term, while the varicella-zoster virus does not.

Although it is a condition unrelated to herpes, shingles is sometimes referred to as herpes zoster, a nickname that references the shared family of the viruses that cause them. Within this viral family, only the herpes simplex virus causes the condition we know today as herpes.

If you are ever unsure whether your doctor is referring to herpes simplex or shingles when you hear the word herpes, ask for clarification.

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.

Is There A Treatment For Shingles

Several antiviral medicines, acyclovir , valacyclovir , and famciclovir , are available to treat shingles. These medications should be started as soon as possible after the rash appears and will help shorten the illness and decrease how severe the illness is. Pain medicine may also help with pain caused by shingles. Call your provider as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.

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What Is The Best Way To Prevent Shingles

Your best chance at preventing shingles is to get vaccinated. There is one vaccine, Shingrix, which is very effective in preventing shingles and complications, including postherpetic neuralgia.

  • Shingrix is a recommended vaccine for all adults age 50 years and older whether or not they have had shingles or previously received varicella vaccine. The vaccine is a series of two doses. The administration of the second dose is given 2 to 6 months after the first dose.

What Are The Complications Of Shingles

What Causes a Shingles Outbreak

After the shingles rash has disappeared, you might continue to have nerve pain in that same area. Postherpetic neuralgia can last for months or years and become quite severe.

More than 10% of people who get shingles develop postherpetic neuralgia. Researchers dont know why some people get postherpetic neuralgia and others dont. It may be that nerves become more sensitive or that the virus may be invading and damaging the central nervous system.

Other complications include:

  • Other types of nerve issues like numbness or itching.
  • A bacterial infection of the shingles rash.
  • Eye and ear inflammation if the rash is near these organs.

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Who Should Not Be Vaccinated With Shingrix

You shouldnt receive the Shingrix vaccine if you:

  • Have ever had a severe allergy to this vaccine or any ingredient in this vaccine.
  • Are breastfeeding or pregnant.
  • Currently have shingles.
  • Are ill and have a high fever.
  • Have tested negative for immunity to varicella-zoster virus .

Ask your healthcare provider if the benefits of getting the vaccine outweigh any potential risks.

What Can Be Done To Prevent The Spread Of Shingles

A vaccine for chickenpox is available and it is hoped that individuals immunized against chickenpox will be less likely to develop shingles in later life.

The risk of spreading the virus that causes shingles is low if the rash is covered. People with shingles should keep the rash covered, not touch or scratch the rash, and wash their hands often to prevent the spread of shingles. Once the rash has developed crusts, the person is no longer contagious.

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What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Shingrix

Studies show that Shingrix is safe. The vaccine helps your body create a strong defense against shingles. As a result, you are likely to have temporary side effects from getting the shots. The side effects might affect your ability to do normal daily activities for 2 to 3 days.

Most people got a sore arm with mild or moderate pain after getting Shingrix, and some also had redness and swelling where they got the shot. Some people felt tired, had muscle pain, a headache, shivering, fever, stomach pain, or nausea. Some people who got Shingrix experienced side effects that prevented them from doing regular activities. Symptoms went away on their own in about 2 to 3 days. Side effects were more common in younger people.

You might have a reaction to the first or second dose of Shingrix, or both doses. If you experience side effects, you may choose to take over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Guillain-Barré syndrome , a serious nervous system disorder, has been reported very rarely after Shingrix. There is also a very small increased risk of GBS after having shingles.

If you experience side effects from Shingrix, you should report them to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System . Your doctor might file this report, or you can do it yourself through the VAERS websiteexternal icon, or by calling 1-800-822-7967.

If you have any questions about side effects from Shingrix, talk with your doctor.

Im Pregnant And Have Had A Blood Test For Chickenpox What Do The Results Of This Test Show

How Can You Prevent Shingles

The blood test can show that you:

  • Are immune and have no sign of recent infection. You have nothing further to be concerned about.
  • Are not immune and have not yet been infected. You should avoid anyone with chickenpox during your pregnancy.
  • Have or recently had an infection. You should discuss what the risks are for your stage of pregnancy with your healthcare provider.

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

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.

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 Shingles Diagnosed And Treated

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 you have shingles and can make a treatment plan. Most cases can be diagnosed from a visual examination. If you have a condition that weakens the immune system, your doctor may order a shingles test. Although there is no cure for shingles, early treatment with antiviral medications can help the blisters clear up faster and limit severe pain. Shingles can often be treated at home.

What Should I Do About An Exposure To Varicella

6 Foods To Avoid With Shingles: Measures To Prevent

If you have been in contact with someone with chickenpox or shingles, or if you have a rash-associated illness that might be chickenpox or shingles, discuss your situation with your healthcare provider. Blood tests may be done to see if you have become infected with the virus or have had the disease in the past. If you are pregnant and not immune and have been exposed to chickenpox or shingles, call your healthcare provider immediately. Your provider may choose to treat you with a medication called varicella-zoster immune globulin , but in order for this medication to be most helpful, it needs to be given as soon as possible after your exposure to varicella.

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Treatments For Chickenpox And Shingles

There are vaccines available for both shingles and chickenpox. Today, theyre widely used in the U.S. and around the world.

Shingrix is a vaccination for shingles thats recommended for healthy adults over the age of 50. Varicella is the vaccine used for chickenpox. Its usually administered to children between the ages of 12 and 15 months, and then again between 4 and 6 years old.

A cool bath infused with baking soda, oatmeal, or colloidal oatmeal may help soothe the skin lesions caused by chickenpox and shingles. Applying calamine lotion can also help calm the skin and reduce itchiness.

Resist scratching your skin while you have chickenpox or shingles, because it can leave the wounds open to infection and cause scars on your skin.

Aspirin is not recommended for pain relief when you have chickenpox. Its use has been associated with Reyes syndrome in children who have chickenpox. Reyes syndrome is a serious disease that affects the brain and liver.

If you have shingles, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medicine to ease symptoms and speed healing. These medicines are most effective when taken as soon as the rash develops:

How To Protect Yourself

Shingles is more than an unsightly rash. After the bumps clear, you can have a long-term, painful complication called postherpetic neuralgia. “This pain can be debilitating in some people,” says Montero. “Even a light sensation, like a sheet rubbing against the skin, can cause a lot of pain.”

Ochoa’s doctor warned her there was a good chance shingles would affect her for the rest of her life. But her rash cleared up within 6 weeks. “Fortunately, I haven’t had any side effects,” she says.

Crystal Fiereck was also lucky that her shingles pain disappeared with her rash. She was only 12 years old, in sixth grade, when the bumps broke out on her side and back. But her luck changed at age 32, when she got shingles again, this time on the opposite side of her body. “The doctors said it’s rare , but it can happen,” she says. Again the rash faded quickly, but she still has some residual pain from her illness.

Getting vaccinated can dramatically lower your odds of having shingles and its complications. The new vaccine, Shingrix, is more than 90% effective at preventing the disease. It’s recommended for people ages 50 and up. You’ll need two doses, given 2 to 6 months apart, to be fully protected.

Fiereck asked her doctor about getting vaccinated and was told no. “Insurance wouldn’t cover it ⦠and it’s an expensive vaccine.”

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What Are The Symptoms Like For Shingles In Young Adults

Overall, younger people who get shingles typically have a milder illness. This means that the rash and associated pain may not be as severe as it would be in an older adult. Most adults who have shingles dont develop it again.

Its still important to talk with your doctor if you suspect that you have shingles. This is because taking antiviral medications shortly after your symptoms start can help to reduce symptoms and shorten their duration.

Whether youve had chickenpox or shingles, the best way to protect against developing shingles in the future is through vaccination. The shingles vaccine, called Shingrix, consists of 2 doses spaced out between 2 to 6 months.

The catch? According to the FDA , its currently only indicated for use in adults 50 years and older. Shingrix hasnt been studied in younger populations.

If youre younger than 50 years old, you can ask your doctor about getting Shingrix. But its unlikely that theyll recommend it or that your insurance will cover it.

Since shingles is generally milder and rarer in younger adults, it may make sense to treat these cases as they occur instead of preparing for something that has a low chance of being life threatening if it happens.

The Risk Of Shingles For People In Their 20s 30s And 40s

Getting Shingles at a younger age

In 1995, the chickenpox vaccine became available in the U.S. for children ages 12 months and older. This means that people born before then could have gotten chickenpox as children or might not remember if they were vaccinated.

“This is probably why we occasionally see shingles cases in younger patients,” Dr. Thomassian says. “If you were born in the ’70s or early ’80s, presumably you had chickenpox when you were younger and it wouldn’t be much of a shock if you got shingles.

“But I’ve also had patients born in the late ’80s and early ’90s who contracted shingles and we ask them, ‘Do you know if you’ve been vaccinated?’ Some of them know they were not vaccinatedsome of them don’t know if they had chickenpox or not.”

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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.

Do You Need To Stay Away From Children People Who Are Pregnant Have Cancer Or Anyone With A Weak Immune System After You Get The Zostavax Vaccine

According to the CDC, its safe to be around babies and young children, pregnant women or anyone with a weakened immune system after you get the Zostavax vaccine. Even though the Zostavax vaccine contains a weakened live varicella-zoster virus, the CDC says theres no documented case of a person getting chickenpox from someone who has received the Zostavax vaccine. And remember: You cant get shingles unless youve already had chickenpox.

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Who Should Be Vaccinated With Shingrix

The Shingrix vaccine is recommended for those 50 years of age and older who are in good health.

You should get the Shingrix vaccine even if:

  • Youve had shingles already.
  • Youve been previously vaccinated with Zostavax . If youve been vaccinated with Zostavax, wait at least eight weeks before getting vaccinated with Shingrix.
  • You dont know for sure if youve ever had chickenpox.

Ask your healthcare provider, who knows your entire health history if getting this vaccine is right for you.

I’m Pregnant And Have Recently Been Exposed To Someone With Chickenpox How Will This Exposure Affect Me Or My Pregnancy

Varicella (chickenpox)
  • Susceptible pregnant women are at risk for associated complications when they contract varicella. Varicella infection causes severe illness in pregnant women, and 10%-20% of those infected develop varicella pneumonia, with mortality reported as high as 40%.
  • Because of these risks, pregnant women without evidence of immunity to varicella who have been exposed to the virus may be given varicella-zoster immune globulin to reduce their risk of disease complications.
  • If you are pregnant and have never had chickenpox, and you get chickenpox during the:
    • First half of your pregnancy, there is a very slight risk for birth defects or miscarriage.
    • Second half of your pregnancy, the baby may have infection without having any symptoms and then get shingles later in life.
  • Newborns whose mothers develop varicella rash from 5 days before to 2 days after delivery are at risk for neonatal varicella, associated with mortality as high as 30%. These infants should receive preventive treatment with varicella-zoster immune globulin .

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What Can You Do To Avoid Stress

Reducing or eliminating stress from your life may not guarantee that you wont get shingles, but it will make you healthier. Experimenting with different techniques for stress can help you find what works for you. Try these techniques to reduce stress:

  • Identify and avoid the things that trigger your stress. Consider keeping a journal of your moods and possible triggers.
  • Wind down before sleep. Reading a book, turning off the computer, and creating a bedtime routine may help.
  • Turn mealtimes into social rituals with people you like, complete with conversation, soft music, and healthy, well-prepared food.
  • Spend time with your pet or someone elses pet if you like animals.
  • Turn off your phone.
  • Spend time in nature or taking quiet walks in peaceful surroundings.
  • Practice meditation.

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