Thursday, April 11, 2024

Why Does A Person Get Shingles

Check If You Have Shingles

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

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.

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.

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.

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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.

What Is The Best Way To Prevent Shingles

What Causes a Shingles Outbreak

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.

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When To Get Vaccinated To Prevent Shingles

To prevent shingles, the CDC recommends the Shingrix vaccine if you are 50 or older. The risk of serious complications from shingles does increase with age.

According to the CDC, about one in 10 people who get shingles also develop postherpetic neuralgia, a type of nerve pain that can last for months or even years.

“Although postherpetic neuralgia is rare, it’s devastating when it happens to a patient and the pain is very debilitating,” Dr. Thomassian says.

Some older adults might think it’s OK to skip the shingles vaccine, but they are putting themselves and those around them more at risk, Dr. Thomassian says.

If you are a parent or a guardian, it’s also important to make sure your child gets the chickenpox vaccine.

“No one really thinks about shingles when they’re making the decision to vaccinate their child against chickenpox,” Dr. Thomassian says. “But as we’ve seen with the COVID-19 vaccines, getting vaccinated for chickenpox and shingles doesn’t just help one person, it helps everybody.”

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What Is The Outlook For People With Recurring Shingles

Shingles usually clears up within two to six weeks.

In a small number of cases, the pain can remain once the rash has healed. This is called postherpetic neuralgia . Up to 2 percent of people who get shingles have PHN for five years or more. The risk increases with age.

Recurring shingles isnt preventable. You can reduce your risk by getting the shingles vaccine, even after youve had shingles.

A showed that people who had the shingles vaccine had 51 percent fewer cases of shingles. For people 50-59 years old, the shingles vaccine reduced the risk of shingles by 69.8 percent.

People who received the shingles vaccine generally had less severe cases of shingles. They also had

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Can You Get Shingles From The Covid

There have been a few reports of shingles happening in people who were vaccinated against COVID-19. The varicella-zoster virus was reactivated in these people.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

If youve had chickenpox, youre at risk of developing shingles later in life. Shingles causes a rash that is contagious and painful. The disease can have serious complications. The best thing you can do to reduce your risk is to get the shingles vaccine. The vaccines are safe and effective.

For Older Adults: Shingles Vaccine

Mayo Clinic Minute: Don’t suffer with shingles

A different vaccine, the herpes zoster vaccine, is available for people aged 50 and older who have had chickenpox and therefore carry VZV. Experts also recommend this vaccine for those who have not had chickenpox or shingles.

In the U.S., of people born before 1980 already have this virus in their system. The herpes zoster vaccine can help prevent shingles in people who already have the virus.

The options available are Zostavax and a newer vaccine called Shingrix.

After two doses of Shingrix, a person will have more than 90% protection against shingles, falling to just above 85% after 4 years, according to the CDC.

Read Also: Where Do Shingles Show Up

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

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.

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Which Shingles Vaccine Is Best

Eventually, your doctor will start mentioning the shingles vaccine which can help prevent shingles from developing, as well as reduce its severity if it does still develop. The shingles vaccine can also reduce your risk of postherpetic neuralgia, one of the most common complications of shingles.

“Because shingles becomes increasingly more common as a person ages, the shingles vaccine is currently recommended for people over the age of 50. There are two vaccine options, Shingrix and Zostavax, with Shingrix being the newer of the two vaccines and the preferred choice as it is more effective.”

When it comes to how the shingles vaccine works, Shingrix is a shot that requires two doses administered six months apart. There are temporary side of effects of this shingles vaccine that can be unpleasant, however. Shingles vaccine side effects typically don’t last more than three days, but include:

  • Redness or swelling

Causes And Risk Factors Of Shingles

6 Foods To Avoid With Shingles: Measures To Prevent

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.

But the varicella-zoster virus is not the same virus that causes cold sores and genital herpes. The viruses that cause oral and genital herpes are herpes simplex 1 and herpes simplex 2.

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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Can Shingles Be Harmful During Pregnancy

Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Still, pregnant women who develop chicken pox can experience complications, including varicella pneumonia, a condition that can be fatal.

If a pregnant woman develops a varicella rash from five days before to two days after delivery, the newborn will be at risk for neonatal varicella.

Pregnant women who have been exposed to the virus may be given a varicella-zoster immune globulin injection to reduce the risk of complications to both mother and baby.

Age And Weak Immune System Increase Your Risk Of Getting Shingles

Although anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles, your risk of developing shingles increases with age. Most people get shingles in their 50s or later in life.

Its rare to get shingles before 40 years of age. Scientists are still studying why this happens. Its likely that your immune system keeps the virus dormant. When the immune system starts to weaken, which may start in your 50s, the virus can wake up.

Age increases your risk of getting shingles

Many people who had chickenpox dont remember having it and are unaware that they can get shingles.

Anyone who has a weakened immune system also has an increased risk of getting shingles. This includes people who have:

  • Some cancers, such as leukemia or lymphoma

  • Human immunodeficiency virus

  • To take medication that suppresses the immune system, such as people living with an organ transplant, severe psoriasis, or advanced psoriatic arthritis

  • To receive certain cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy

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What Are The Symptoms

The first sign of shingles is often burning, sharp pain, tingling, or numbness in your skin on one side of your body or face. The most common site is the back or upper abdomen. You may have severe itching or aching. You also may feel tired and ill with fever, chills, headache, and upset stomach or belly pain.

One to 14 days after you start feeling pain, you will notice a rash of small blisters on reddened skin. Within a few days after they appear, the blisters will turn yellow, then dry and crust over. Over the next 2 weeks the crusts drop off, and the skin continues to heal over the next several days to weeks.

Because shingles usually follows nerve paths, the blisters are usually found in a line, often extending from the back or side around to the belly. The blisters are almost always on just one side of the body. Shingles usually doesn’t cross the midline of the body. The rash also may appear on one side of your face or scalp. The painful rash may be in the area of your ear or eye. When shingles occurs on the head or scalp, symptoms can include headaches and weakness of one side of the face, which causes that side of the face to look droopy. The symptoms usually go away eventually, but it may take many months.

In some cases the pain can last for weeks, months, or years, long after the rash heals. This is called postherpetic neuralgia.

The Biology Behind That Blistering Rash

Shingles Virus FAQs Answered | Shingles Causes, Symptoms Treatment | Dr. Jen Caudle

During the initial exposure to chickenpox, some of the virus particles settle into the nerve cells around the spinal cord and brain. When the virus reactivates sometimes decades later, as a result of things like stress it travels down those nerve fibers to the skin. As the virus multiplies, the telltale rash erupts.

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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.

What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles

Early symptoms of shingles may include:

Other signs and symptoms that appear a few days after the early symptoms include:

  • An itching, tingling or burning feeling in an area of your skin.
  • Redness on your skin in the affected area.
  • Raised rash in a small area of your skin.
  • Fluid-filled blisters that break open then scab over.
  • Mild to severe pain in the area of skin affected.

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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.

Stages Of Chickenpox And Shingles

Shingles: Chickenpox, Revisited

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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    Signs And Symptoms Of Shingles

    Shingles is characterized by a rash that develops on one side of the body or your face. While this rash is usually the first sign of shingles, some may experience an odd pain in the body that they can’t explain.

    “Typically, the pain also develops on one side,” Dr. Thomassian says. “It can seem like nerve pain, and you may feel numbness or tingling.”

    Dr. Thomassian says this type of pain could remind someone of the pain they feel before getting a cold sore.

    “The virus that causes shingles is similar to the cold sore or herpes virus, so you may feel a numbing pain and then develop a rash soon after,” Dr. Thomassian says.

    Some might also mistake the rash caused by shingles as eczema or dermatitis .

    “If you have a large rash on your body, contact your doctor right away,” Dr. Thomassian says. “Shingles can be contagious. People oftentimes try to put some sort of cream on the rash to treat it, but this won’t prevent the spread of a contagious virus.”

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