What Are Risk Factors For Shingles
Shingles can only occur in individuals who have previously been exposed to the varicella-zoster virus. Risk factors for the development of shingles include the following:
- Increasing age: Though shingles can rarely occur in children, it is much more common in older adults, with the incidence increasing with age. This is thought to be in large part due to waning immunity as people age. Approximately 50% of all cases of shingles occur in adults 60 years of age or older.
- Weakened immune system: Individuals with impaired immune systems have a higher probability of developing shingles. This can be seen in diseases such as cancer and HIV/AIDS, or in individuals taking certain medications. Patients taking steroids or other immunosuppressive medications, such as people who have undergone organ transplants, and individuals with certain autoimmune diseases are at increased risk for developing shingles.
- Psychological and emotional stressors are also thought to possibly contribute to the development of shingles, perhaps from the detrimental effects of stress on the immune system and the person’s health.
What Should I Expect Will Happen To Me If I 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 reduce the duration of your symptoms.
A better approach to shingles is to take action and do what you can to lessen your risk of getting it. If you never had shingles or had a bout of them 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.
What Does The Shingles Rash Look Like
The varicella zoster virus which causes shingles lies dormant in the nervous system, so the rash will appear in a dermatomal pattern a band or area of skin on the body corresponding to a particular set of nerves. The shingles rash usually appears on the face, neck or one side of the torso.
Good to know: If the relevant nerves are affected, it is also possible to experience shingles on the leg. It is relatively unusual, but also possible, to develop the shingles rash in more than one area of the body, i.e. in relation to more than one set of nerves. Even more rarely and especially in people with a compromised immune system, three or more dermatomes may be affected. This is a form of the condition known as disseminated zoster.
As the condition progresses, the rash site develops blisters which fill with clear fluid. Because shingles interacts with a personâs nervous system, the rash is often accompanied by an intense, stabbing pain which worsens as it develops. The area affected by the rash may be hypersensitive to touch, which can render it difficult to dress or to sleep in certain positions.
A person with shingles is contagious to others in the period when their rash is blistering. During this period, a person should avoid physical contact with others, in particular, certain population groups, including:
- Elderly people
- People with a weakened immune system
- People who have not had chickenpox in the past
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What Is The Prognosis Of Shingles
Generally speaking, shingles typically resolves within two to four weeks in most individuals. The prognosis is excellent for younger and healthy individuals who develop shingles, with very few experiencing any complications. However, in older individuals and in those with compromised immune systems, the prognosis is more guarded, as complications and more severe outbreaks of shingles occur more commonly in these groups.
Approximately 1%-4% of people who develop shingles require hospitalization for complications, and about 30% of those hospitalized have impaired immune systems. In the U.S., it is estimated that there are approximately 96 deaths per year directly related to the varicella-zoster virus, the vast majority of which occur in the elderly and in those who are immunocompromised.
What Can I Do For The Pain
To help with the pain of shingles, your doctor might have you take an over-the-counter pain medicine. This could include acetaminophen or ibuprofen .
Applying a medicated anti-itch lotion to the blisters might reduce the pain and itching. Placing cool compresses soaked in water mixed with white vinegar on the blisters and sores might also help.
If shingles causes severe pain, your doctor might prescribe a stronger pain medicine.
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What Causes Shingles And Who Is At Risk
If youve had chickenpox in the past you can develop shingles.
This is because the inactive chickenpox virus stays in your nerve cells near your spine. When shingles develops its because the virus has become active again. Usually, a person will only get shingles once in their lives, but it can sometime occur again if you have a weakened immune system.
Shingles is more likely to occur in people who:
- are aged over 50
- have weakened immune systems, for example:
- have HIV or AIDS
- have had an organ transplant
- have recently had a bone marrow transplant
- have a condition which requires treatment that affects the immune system, such as chemotherapy for cancer.
What Does Shingles Look Like
Shingles looks as painful as it sounds. Red patches of skin covered in bumps eventually erupt into fluid-filled blisters that ooze before eventually drying out and crusting over. The infected bands of skin typically wrap around one side of the bodyleft or right. Shingles mostly appears on the torso, face, and neck, but it has been known to pop up on an arm or leg.
People with weakened immune systems often have shingles that stray from the typical band-like pattern. Their shingles may be more widespread.
People with severe cases of shingles may see permanent changes in the pigmentation of their skin once their blisters scab over and fall off.
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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:
- You have had shingles already.
- You have been previously vaccinated with Zostavax .
- You do not 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.
Who’s At Risk For Shingles
Anyone who has ever had chickenpox can get shingles, but the risk increases with age. People older than age 60 are up to 10 times more likely to get shingles than younger people. Other factors that increase your risk include:
- Some cancer medicines
- A weak immune system from illnesses such as cancer or HIV
A quarter of adults will develop shingles at some point, and most are otherwise healthy.
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Is The Zostavax Vaccine Still Being Used
Yes. It is still recommended for preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia in healthy people age 50 and older. Zostavax is given as a single-dose shot versus the two-dose shot for Shingrix. Zostavax is less effective than Shingrix in preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia .
Zostavax can be considered if you are allergic to Shingrix or if Shingrix is unavailable due to supply shortage and you want some immediate protection from a possible case of shingles and/or postherpetic neuralgia. Because it is a weakened live vaccine, it may be dangerous if you have cancer, HIV, or take steroids, chemotherapy or other medications that suppress your immune system. Ask your healthcare provider if the Zostavax vaccine is an option for you.
Shingles Risks And Pregnancy
Pregnant women are susceptible to shingles. Fortunately, shingles in pregnancy is very rare. The antiviral medications described previously are considered safe to use in pregnant women, as are most pain-relieving drugs. Women should not take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen in the later stages of pregnancy, but acetaminophen is considered safe. Having chickenpox during pregnancy has the potential to cause birth defects, depending upon when in the pregnancy the infection occurs. The risk of birth defects is believed to be lower with shingles than with primary chickenpox infection.
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Is It An Allergic Reaction Or The Shingles Rash
A skin allergy can cause a rash that looks similar to the shingles rash. Red sores resulting from an allergic reaction to medication will be irregular in shape and either flat or raised. This kind of rash may also be caused by exposure to a skin allergen like poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, in which red, itchy rashes may include bumps and seeping blisters, much like the shingles virus. Rashes caused by allergic reactions tend to clear up on their own, often within three weeks after exposure.
S Of The Shingles Rash
If you have a rash of blisters on your skin or a rash that looks like any shown below, see your doctor immediately for a diagnosis. If you have shingles, its important to get treatment, preferably within 2 to 3 days.
If youve had the rash for longer than 2 to 3 days, its still important to see your doctor.
A typical shingles rash
Doctors often refer to this rash as the shingles band because it looks like a band that appears on one area of your body, as shown here.
A rash on one side of the body
A key that you have shingles is that the rash only develops on one side of your body.
Close-up of a shingles rash
The shingles rash often causes a cluster of tiny blisters. You may notice that the skin beneath the blisters is red and inflamed, as shown here.
The rash will also feel painful.
Blistering shingles rash on a man’s chest
Although the rash can begin in one area, you may notice that a few scattered blisters develop in other areas, as shown here.
Shingles rash on the palm of a man’s hand
While shingles tends to develop on your body or face, it can appear anywhere on your skin.
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What Does Shingles Feel Like
To put it simply, shingles hurts and it makes you feel exhausted.
Before I’d felt any shingles symptoms in my skin, I felt an overwhelming sense of fatigue. Not knowing a virus was chilling out in my nerve tissues and preparing to wage war in my body, I put on my gym clothes and walked to the YMCA. I took my usual classes and feigned a grin. Then I went home and “napped” for four hours.
But one morning I woke up and everything was a little different. The right side of my head and neck were in total agony. Yes, classic symptoms of shingles. But I had zero idea. I was just scared.
In my experience, shingles feels like someone boiling pins and them jabbing you with them. It was all I could do not to shriek each time the nearly electrical sensation struck.
I went to the bathroom to splash water on my face and noticed that my right eye was looking a little puffy and felt … well … weird. It was at this point that I, totally rationally , began to assume that I was slowly dying. Not at all an overreaction or anything!
Healthline explains that early on, shingles feels like burning or under your skin. Yep, I can confirm that. But it’s not just that.
“Early symptoms of shingles may include fever and general weakness. You may also feel areas of pain, burning, or a tingling sensation. A few days later, the first signs of a rash appear.” And boy did it.
Here’s a photo of my shingles rash:
Finally I gave in and called the doctor.
Shingles Is A Viral Rash Like Chicken Pox
Shingles rash is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chicken pox. The shingles virus lies dormant in the nerve fibers of people who have had chicken pox as they age, the virus can reactivate and cause shingles. The CDC reports that about one in five people who have had chicken pox will get this viral rash at some point in their lives. It is most common in those over 60.
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How To Avoid Spreading Shingles
The varicella-zoster virus is typically less likely to be transmitted with shingles than with chickenpox. However, the varicella-zoster virus can be passed on from the time that your symptoms start until your rash and blisters have crusted dry.
If you have shingles and are otherwise healthy, you can still go out in public or to work. But be sure to follow these tips:
- Keep the shingles rash clean and covered. This can help prevent other people from coming into contact with your blisters.
- Wash your hands often. Also, try not to touch the blisters.
- Avoid being around pregnant people. The varicella-zoster virus can cause serious health risks for both pregnant people and their babies. Risks include pneumonia and permanent damage to the unborn child. If you find you have shingles after spending time with someone whos pregnant, let them know at once so they can ask their OB-GYN for advice. Be especially careful to avoid pregnant people who havent had chickenpox or the vaccine for it.
- Avoid other at-risk people. Stay away from premature babies, infants with low birth weights, and children who havent yet had chickenpox or its vaccine. Also, avoid people with weakened immune systems. These include people living with HIV, organ transplant recipients, and people taking immunosuppressant medications or having chemotherapy.
Doctors recommend the chickenpox vaccine for children. Preventing chickenpox will also prevent shingles.
You can get the vaccine
Outlook For People With Shingles In The Eye
Your shingles rash should heal within one to three weeks. Symptoms around your face and eyes can sometimes take up to a few months to heal.
In the early stages of the disease, your doctor will check you every few days. After youve received treatment for the infection, youll probably need to see your eye doctor every 3 to 12 months to check for glaucoma, scarring, and other long-term problems that can affect your vision.
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What Is Shingles What Does Shingles Look Like
Shingle is a disease characterized by a painful, blistering skin rash that affects one side of the body, typically the face or torso. This condition may also be referred to as herpes zoster, zoster, or zona. The word shingles comes from the Latin word cingulum, which means belt. There are approximately 1 million estimated new cases per year in the U.S., with almost one out of every three people developing shingles at some point in their lifetime. Though most people who develop shingles will only have a single episode, there are some who develop recurrent cases of shingles. Shingles are more common in older individuals and in those with weakened immune systems.
The characteristic rash of shingles typically appears after an initial period of burning, tingling, itching, or stinging in the affected area. After a few days, the rash then appears in a stripe or band-like pattern along a nerve path , affecting only one side of the body without crossing the midline. The rash erupts as clusters of small red patches that develop into blisters, which may appear similar to chickenpox. The blisters then break open and slowly begin to dry and eventually crust over.
Shingles On Stomach Causes Signs And Treatment
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The disease is caused by Herpes virus, but the first infection rash almost never appear on the stomach. Most often, the virus goes into a latent state and occurs itself in the form of tinea already when reactivating the infection has started.
After the infection, the virus remains forever in the spinal nerve nodes. If it is a lumbar group of nerves-then rashes are deployed on the abdomen, sometimes in the omphalus.
Relapse is preceded by a number of factors:
- Weakness of the immune system because of infections.
- Irrational feed.
They inhibit the body and reduce its protective functions.
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Signs Of Shingles Before The Rash Appears
Before the rash appears, early warning signs of shingles, which may be present, include:
- Itching, burning pain, numbness, tingling in the place where the rash will develop
- Flu-like symptoms such as chills, fever, headache, feeling fatigued or overly tired
- Upset stomach
After the initial skin complaints develop into the shingles rash, the condition typically lasts for two to four weeks. The pain typically worsens as the rash develops and alleviates as it heals.
Why Doesnt Having Chickenpox Earlier In Life Provide Immunity Against Having Shingles Later
After having chickenpox, your body does not 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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Who Should Avoid The Shingles Vaccine
Some people should not receive the shingles vaccine, including pregnant women and those with significantly suppressed immune systems.
The shingles vaccine should not be given to pregnant women. It is recommended that a woman wait three months before trying to become pregnant after she has received the shingles vaccine.
People With Weakened Immune Systems
People with weakened immune systems due to immune-suppressing medications, HIV disease, cancer treatment, or organ transplants should not receive the shingles vaccine because it contains live, weakened virus particles.
People Under Age 60
There is not enough information available to determine whether Zostavax may be generally beneficial in people younger than 60 years of age.