What You Need To Know About Shingles
If you have ever had chickenpox, then you may be at risk for developing a rash that is called shingles. Experts do not really know why the virus reactivates itself. There is a vaccine available that will lower your chance of developing shingles. Symptoms of shingles include painful blisters that develop on the trunk of the body. You will need laboratory tests to confirm your rash.
Treatment options for shingles include antivirals prescribed by your doctor, analgesics for pain control and disinfection of lesions. The rash may form a crust after several days and leave small scars. People often get shingles when their immune system is weakened by other factors such as infection, stress or cancer. The disease is contagious through contact with the vesicles. It may also cause chickenpox in people who have never had the disease.
As long as the lesions are present, then you are still contagious. Shingles is not contagious before the rash develops. You cannot get shingles from sneezing or coughing but only through the fluid from the rash. Your doctor may also prescribe a skin cream for localized itching. Home remedies include applying a wet cloth against the rash. Calamine lotion may also give some relief from itching.
The symptoms of shingles include swollen lymph glands, general body aches, fever, headache and chills. The rash appears several days after these symptoms appear. It is important to seek medical care before the rash gets worse to prevent scarring. A laboratory test must confirm the presence of shingles. Symptoms also begin with a burning sensation that is followed by the rash on the skin. Recovery may last up to four weeks with pain lasting even longer.
The vaccine against shingles was approved by the FDA in 2006. It offers a 60 percent reduction rate for developing the disease. People who are over 60 years of age should get the vaccine to boost the immune system. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are not recommended to get the vaccine. You can get the vaccine at a number of pharmacies located throughout the country without having to go into a doctor’s office. Emergency care clinics may also administer the shingles vaccine.
Recurrent shingles is extremely rare because most people only have one episode during their lifetime. Complications of shingles may include nerve damage resulting in muscle paralysis. However, most people make a full recovery without lasting problems or issues. Approximately three percent of people will require hospitalization with shingles. If shingles affect the eyes, then it may lead to blindness in rare cases. Visit your doctor if you suspect you have shingles for an accurate diagnosis and medication that will help relieve your symptoms and pain.