Shingles During Pregnancy
If you had chickenpox as a child, you can rest assured you'll never have it as an adult. But that doesn't mean you won't have to deal with the virus that causes chickenpox -- the highly contagious varicella-zoster virus (VZV). For an estimated one in five people, the virus causes a painful, blistering condition called shingles. Although a diagnosis of shingles can be upsetting at any time, shingles during pregnancy can be especially frightening. Fortunately, shingles in pregnancy is rare. And, for most women who develop shingles during pregnancy, the prognosis is good.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Shingles
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After an outbreak of chickenpox, usually in childhood, the virus that causes it stays in your body, lying dormant in certain nerve cells. Although your immune system usually keeps the virus in check, anything that affects the immune system's ability to hold back the virus -- illnesses, immunosuppressive drugs, severe stress, or aging-related changes, for example -- can allow the virus to return with a vengeance.
Early symptoms of shingles include burning or shooting pain and tingling or itching, generally on one side of the body or face. For some people, the pain is severe. It may be accompanied by fever, chills, nausea, diarrhea, and difficulty urinating. The pain and tingling are followed by a rash, which begins with reddish bumps, most often on the trunk. In a few days the bumps become fluid-filled blisters, which usually crust over and fall off after seven to 10 days.
Even when the rash goes away, the skin color at the rash site may be different. Also, nerve pain may persist at the site of the rash (a condition called postherpetic neuralgia). About one-fifth of people who get shingles develop postherpetic neuralgia. In most people, the pain goes away within four months from the first sign of the rash.
Shingles is typically easy to diagnose. Your health care provider will suspect shingles if you exhibit the typical symptoms of rash on one side of the body, along with sharp, burning pain and a history of chickenpox.
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Shingles and Pregnancy - Symptoms and Diagnosis Question: Please describe the symptoms that led to a diagnosis of shingles while you were pregnant.
Shingles and Pregnancy - Treatment Question: How did you treat shingles pain and itching during your pregnancy?
Shingles and Pregnancy - Prevention Question: How did you prevent the risk of shingles during your pregnancy?