Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Why Do We Get Shingles

How To Protect Yourself

How Can You Prevent Shingles

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.”

What Are Risk Factors For Shingles

A weakened immune system might wake up the virus. After youâve had chickenpox, youâre more likely to get shingles if you:

  • Are 50 or older
  • Are under a lot of stress
  • Have cancer, HIV, or another disease that lowers your bodyâs defenses
  • Have had a serious physical injury
  • Take long-term steroids or other medicines that can weaken your immune system

But many people who get shingles donât fit into any of these categories.

Dont Shrug Off Shingles

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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.

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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.

What Makes Shingles So Painful

6 Foods To Avoid With Shingles: Measures To Prevent

The most common complication of shingles is a condition called postherpetic neuralgia . People diagnosed with PHN have severe pain for at least 90 days after the shingles rash has cleared up. The pain can lead to a lower quality of life for many people. As people get older, they are more likely to develop PHN, and the pain is more likely to be severe.

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When Should I See A Doctor Because Of The Side Effects I Experience From Shingrix

Shingrix causes a strong response in your immune system, so it may produce short-term side effects. These side effects can be uncomfortable, but they are expected and usually go away on their own in 2 or 3 days. You may choose to take over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Contact your healthcare provider if the symptoms are not improving or if they are getting worse.

In clinical trials, Shingrix was not associated with serious adverse events. In fact, serious side effects from vaccines are extremely rare. For example, for every 1 million doses of a vaccine given, only one or two people might have a severe allergic reaction. Signs of an allergic reaction happen within minutes or hours after vaccination and include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness. If you experience these or any other life-threatening symptoms, see a doctor right away.

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.

ImageGetty Images

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.

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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

Are There Natural Ways To Boost Your Immune System To Help Lessen The Chances Of Developing Shingles

New treatment for the pain of shingles

Stress is a risk factor for developing shingles, so limiting your stress can be helpful. Try meditation, yoga or other relaxation methods.

Other things you can do include:

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
  • Dont smoke or use tobacco products.

These are all tips for an overall healthy lifestyle, not just for reducing your chance of getting shingles.

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Are Chickenpox And Shingles Serious Illnesses

The symptoms may be more severe in newborns, persons with weakened immune systems, and adults. Serious problems can occur and may include pneumonia , brain infection , and kidney problems. Many people are not aware that before a vaccine was available, approximately 10,600 persons were hospitalized, and 100 to 150 died, as a result of chickenpox in the U.S. every year.

What’s The Difference Between Chickenpox And Shingles

Chickenpox and shingles are two infectious diseases that are often confused with one another. Thats because theyre caused by the same virus, called varicella-zoster.

Varicella is a highly contagious virus that spreads through coughing and sneezing, or through direct contact with an infected skin lesion. It commonly spreads in schools, due to the high volume of students potentially in close contact. Adults can get infected with varicella, too, and these cases tend to be more serious than in those of healthy children.

Vaccinating against chickenpox is very common in the U.S. Theres also a vaccine available for shingles for people who are 50 and older.

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What Should I Do About An Exposure To Varicella

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.

What Are The Symptoms Like For Shingles In Young Adults

Why We Recommend Architectural Shingles

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.

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What If Ive Had The Vaccine For Chickenpox

Many young adults have had the vaccine for VZV, the virus that causes chickenpox. Although uncommon, its still possible to develop shingles if youve had the vaccine.

People whove received the VZV vaccine are at a lower risk for developing shingles. For example, a 2019 study in children found that the incidence of shingles was

For Children: Chickenpox Vaccine

recommend routine immunization with the varicella vaccine during childhood.

With two doses of the vaccine, there is at least a 90% chance of preventing chickenpox. Preventing chickenpox will also prevent shingles.

Children should receive the first dose at . The second dose is at 46 years.

Tests have shown the vaccine to be safe, though some children may experience:

  • pain at the injection site
  • a fever and a mild rash
  • temporary joint pain and stiffness

Since vaccination started in children, the number of shingles cases has

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Shingles On The Rise Among Younger People

Sept. 4, 2018 — In May 2015, Jackie Shelton, a public relations professional and mother of two in Reno, NV, noticed a rash on the back of her leg. She’d been working in her yard and thought nothing of it. Then she awoke in the middle of the night in excruciating pain.

“The pain was emanating from inside my leg and radiating up to the surface,” she says. “It was like fire ants inside my body, on my nerves.”

A trip to urgent care led to an unexpected diagnosis: She had shingles.

Shelton was 50 years old. At the time, she was considered 10 years too young to get the Zostavax shingles vaccine, which was recommended for people ages 60 and older.

“I had really not paid any attention to shingles until I found out I had it. Everything I read said it affected older people, so that was a surprise,” she says.

Katie Ochoa was just 28 when she got the telltale rash. “I called the doctor’s office and said, ‘I think I have shingles.’ They laughed and said, ‘You don’t have shingles.’ As soon as I pulled up my shirt they were like, ‘Wow, this is shingles.’ “

Shingles is known as a disease that mainly strikes older adults, because the varicella zoster virus that causes it often emerges from its slumber late in life. Varicella is the same virus responsible for chickenpox. After you recover from chickenpox in childhood, the virus lies dormant in your nerve cells. It can reawaken as the painful, blistering shingles rash when your immune system naturally weakens with age.

Stages Of Chickenpox And Shingles

Shingles (Herpes Zoster): Pathophysiology, Risk Factors, Phases of Infection, Symptoms, Treatment

The progress of each disease can be marked through stages. Some stages will last longer for some, depending on your age, immune system, and other factors.

Stages of chickenpox

The main stages in chickenpox are:

  • Exposure to the virus: It takes 10 to 21 days after exposure for symptoms to start.
  • Initial symptoms: Feeling unwell, body aches, fever, and headache are usually the first symptoms to set in.
  • Small red bumps on the body: These usually develop on the torso or face first, eventually covering the body.
  • Bumps develop into blisters: The itchy lesions will fill with fluid and become blisters.
  • Blisters scab over and heal: After all your blisters scab over, youre no longer contagious.
  • Stages of shingles

  • Feeling unwell: You might develop fever, headaches, or body aches before developing the rash.
  • Tingling pain: Its common to feel tingles, pain, or itchiness in the area the rash will develop.
  • Burning rash: Anywhere from 1 to 5 days after the tingling started, the rash will start to develop.
  • Blisters: The rash will start to blister and then crust over.
  • You may still feel mild or extreme pain after the rash is gone, due to a condition called post-herpetic neuralgia . You can develop shingles more than once, but it is rare.

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    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.

    Is There A Vaccine For Shingles

    There are two shingles vaccines currently available, Shingrix and Zostavax. Shingrix vaccine, a newer vaccine, is preferred over Zostavax for the prevention of shingles and its complications. Two doses of Shingrix given 2 to 6 months apart are recommended for healthy adults 50 years of age and older. Shingrix is also recommended for adults who have previously received Zostavax. A single dose of Zostavax may still be used to prevent shingles in certain cases for healthy adults 60 years and older.

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    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.

    Can You Get Chickenpox If You’ve Been Vaccinated

    Designer Series Shingles

    Yes. About 15% 20% of people who have received one dose of varicella vaccine do still get chickenpox if they are exposed, but their disease is usually mild. Vaccinated persons who get chickenpox generally have fewer than 50 spots or bumps, which may resemble bug bites more than typical, fluid-filled chickenpox blisters. In 2006, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend routine two-dose varicella vaccination for children. In one study, children who received two doses of varicella vaccine were three times less likely to get chickenpox than individuals who have had only one dose.

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    What Are The Complications Of Shingles

    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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