- What Is
- Is It Contagious?
- Diagnosis and Treatment
- Main Complications
- Who Should Get the Shingles Vaccine?
- What to Know Before Vaccination
- Tips for Living With Shingles
What are shingles?
There is no age limit for shingles. However, you're more likely to develop shingles as an adult if you had chickenpox as a child. The virus that causes it remains dormant in your body even after recovering from chickenpox. If the virus is activated by factors such as age or a compromised immune system, it can cause shingles.
Shingles is also known as herpes zoster. It’s a skin disease caused by a varicella-zoster virus. This viral infection causes a painful rash or blisters to appear in one area of your body. The virus is also responsible for chickenpox.
Shingles occur in approximately 10% of people who have had chickenpox at some point in their lives. Unlike chickenpox, you can get shingles more than once. If you get shingles more than once, you may notice that the rashes don’t appear in the same place.
Main symptoms of shingles
The first sign of shingles you may notice is a burning, tingling feeling on one side of your body. Then a rash may appear in the same area afterward.
If shingles affect a nerve in your face, you may also experience:
- Difficulty moving your facial muscles
- Loss of hearing
- Loss of eye movement or visual difficulties
- Difficulty tasting
- Ptosis (drooping eyelid)
The signs and symptoms associated with shingles will usually take three to five weeks to disappear completely. For some people, symptoms appear without rashes. If you suspect you have shingles symptoms, consider talking to your doctor.
Main causes of shingles
It is not clear what makes the varicella-zoster virus suddenly activate. Because the virus remains in the spinal nerve root after recovery from chickenpox, most researchers believe stress could trigger it.
You're most likely to get shingles if:
Is shingles contagious?
Shingles is not considered to be contagious. However, the varicella-zoster virus can be spread through skin-to-skin contact with someone who has never had chickenpox before. The newly infected will then experience chickenpox, not shingles. Coming into contact with fluid from a shingles blister can spread the virus. Only fully healed, dry blisters are reliably non-infectious.
If you still have a fresh shingles blister, try not to come in social contact with:
Diagnosis and treatment of shingles
The most common way to diagnose shingles is to check how the rash has spread on your body. The rash mostly appears on one side of your body. Your doctor may also take a sample of the fluid in your blister for a laboratory test.
Main complications of shingles
Shingles may cause health complications like Post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) and Herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO). Post-herpetic neuralgia can occur when shingles pain persists even after the rash has faded. It’s caused by damaged nerve fibers on the skin that create discomfort. You're more prone to get severe post-herpetic neuralgia as you get older.
In severe circumstances, if a shingle rash appears on your face, your cornea may be damaged, affecting your vision.
Who is a candidate for the shingles vaccine?
Your doctor may recommend you get a vaccine to prevent you from getting shingles if:
- You’re unsure if you’ve ever had chickenpox before.
- You’ve had shingles before.
- You’re above 50 years and in good health.
- You received the Zostavax shingles vaccine.
Currently, the most effective shingles vaccine is called the Shingrix vaccine, recombinant zoster, which is 90% more effective. The vaccine is administered in two doses. Both doses are shot in your upper arm. Once administered, the Shingrix vaccine can remain effective for at least four years.
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What to know before getting vaccinated
Although vaccines can help prevent the development of shingles, there are a few things you should know before getting vaccinated.
Before getting the vaccine, talk to your doctor if you:
- Have an allergic reaction to gelatin or neomycin antibiotics.
- Have a weakened immune system due to diseases such as cancer or HIV.
- Are taking chemotherapy medication.
- Are on medication that may weaken your immune system (like high-dose steroids).
- Have an allergy to any component used to make any shingles vaccine.
- Are pregnant or planning to get pregnant.
Prevention of shingles
If you have shingles, try keeping the rash covered and washing your hands often to prevent the spread of the virus. The best way to prevent shingles is to get vaccinated, especially if you’re older.
Consider receiving a chickenpox vaccine if you have never had one. If you've never had chickenpox or never gotten a chickenpox vaccination, coming into contact with a rash or blister on someone with shingles may give you chickenpox.
Tips for living with shingles
If you have shingles, consider using these tips:
- Wear loose clothing.
- Consider getting enough rest.
- Take an oatmeal bath to help soothe your skin.
- Consider eating a well-balanced diet.
- Place a cool cloth on the rash to help ease the pain and dry out the blisters.
- Avoid scratching the blisters to prevent infection or scars.
- If your doctor allows it, go for a walk or exercise.
- Engage in relaxing activities like watching TV, and socializing to help take off your mind your pain.
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Top Is There an Age Limit for Shingles Related Articles
Can You Get Shingles After Being Vaccinated?Shingles is a viral infection. It presents with a rash followed by an episode of intense pain in the infected area. This is caused by the virus called varicella zoster. This virus also causes chickenpox. If a child has had chickenpox, the virus may not completely go away, lie dormant in the body and come back years later as shingles. Older individuals and immunocompromised individuals are more likely to develop shingles.
Can You Get Shingles If You Have Had Chickenpox?Yes, you can get shingles if you have had chickenpox in the past. Learn about risk factors, symptoms, and who should get the Shingrix vaccine.
How Long Is Shingles Contagious and How Is It Treated?Learn what medical treatments can ease your shingles symptoms and help you manage this condition.
How Long Is Shingles Contagious?Shingles is contagious from the time the blisters are oozing until the time the blisters have scabbed.
How Much Does a Shingles Shot Usually Cost?Depending on your medical insurance plan, the full price for two doses of the shingles vaccine could cost around $324 or less.
Is Shingles Contagious?Shingles is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Shingles symptoms and signs include skin burning, numbness, and tingling along with a painful red, blistering rash. Shingles is contagious until all of the blisters have crusted over.
Shingles (Herpes Zoster)Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a painful rash caused by the varicella zoster virus. Other shingles symptoms include headache, fever, nausea, and body aches. Treatment focuses on pain management and shortening the duration of the illness with antiviral medications.
Shingles QuizShingles falls within a well-known family of viruses that cause itching, burning, blisters, and pain. Take the Shingles Quiz to get the facts, causes, symptoms, and treatments for this itchy, painful condition.
What Happens When You Get Shingles When Pregnant?Becoming infected with chickenpox during pregnancy could cause birth defects in your unborn child. Likewise, shingles could also cause problems for your unborn child. If you are pregnant and haven't had chickenpox, avoid exposure to infected people. Zostavax, the shingles vaccine, can reduce the incidence of shingles by half. Women should wait at least three months after receiving the vaccine before trying to get pregnant.
ShinglesShingles occurs when the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox, re-emerges due to a weakened immune system. Tingling may occur before herpes zoster blisters appear, usually on the side of the body. The shingles vaccine can boost the immune system to lower the risk of shingles outbreaks.
Shingles Myths and FactsThere are some common misconceptions about this viral illness and the uncomfortable rash it can cause. Here's a guide through the myths and facts of shingles.
What Does a Shingles Rash Look Like at First?The typical shingles red rash or blisters occur after pain, itching, and tingling. They are usually limited to one side of the face and body.
What Triggers a Shingles Outbreak?Shingles occur when the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus responsible for chickenpox, reactivates in the body, usually due to a weakened immune system. Learn about the symptoms of shingles and how you can treat them. The difference between chickenpox and shingles is that the first time you get infected with the varicella virus, you get chickenpox. Shingles is a condition you can develop if you've already had chickenpox. Learn about the differences between chickenpox and shingles and how these two diseases are connected.
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