Drugs that fight viruses (antiviral drugs), such as acyclovir (Zovirax), valacyclovir (Valtrex), or famciclovir (Famvir), can reduce the severity and duration of the shingles rash if started early (within 72 hours of the appearance of the rash).
Although the shingles virus cannot be cured, medical treatment is available. This includes the use of medications like acyclovir (Zovirax), valacyclovir (Valtrex), and famciclovir (Famvir). This antiviral drugs can reduce the severity of the symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness.
^ Schmader K, George LK, Burchett BM, Hamilton JD, Pieper CF (1998). “Race and stress in the incidence of herpes zoster in older adults”. J. Am. Geriatr. Soc. 46 (8): 973–77. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.1998.tb02751.x. PMID 9706885.
Dworkin, R. H., Johnson, R. W., Breuer, J., Gnann, J. W., Levin, M. J., Backonja, M., … Whitley RJ. (2007, January). Recommendations for the management of herpes zoster [Abstract]. The Journal of Infectious Diseases. 1;44 Suppl 1:S1-26. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17143845
In rare instances, your doctor may need to test a sample of your skin or the fluid from your blisters. This involves using a sterile swab to collect a sample of tissue or fluid. Samples are then sent to a medical laboratory to confirm the presence of the virus.
If you’ve ever had the chickenpox — and almost all adults have — there’s a good chance the virus is still at large in your body. The varicella zoster virus can lie dormant for decades without causing any symptoms. In some people, the virus wakes up and travels along nerve fibers to the skin. The result is a distinctive, painful rash called shingles.
It’s no secret that stress can wreak havoc on the immune system, but it can also be a trigger for shingles. “Stressors such as hospitalization for a medical illness or a huge financial setback may be overwhelming,” says Evan Rieder, MD, a dermatologist and assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center. According to Dr. Rieder, even mild stressors like a sleepless night or a runny nose can weaken the body’s immune system and allow reactivation of the virus that causes chicken pox and shingles. (Make sure you don’t miss these eight signs that stress is making you sick.)
^ a b Steiner I, Kennedy PG, Pachner AR (2007). “The neurotropic herpes viruses: herpes simplex and varicella-zoster”. Lancet Neurol. 6 (11): 1015–28. doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(07)70267-3. PMID 17945155.
Getting vaccinated can also help you avoid painful nerve complications from the disease. Although the shingles vaccine is approved by the FDA for people ages 50 to 59, the CDC recommends waiting until age 60 to get the vaccine. This is because it’s not clear how long immunity from the vaccine lasts. It appears to be most effective the first five years after getting it. Even if you’ve had shingles before, you still get the vaccine to decrease the likelihood of a future reoccurrence of it.
Capsaicin, an over-the-counter cream containing certain extracts from chilli peppers: when applied to the skin surface, it temporarily removes certain chemicals from the nerve endings and prevents nerves from sending pain messages to the brain. The cream has to be applied regularly. At first it might produce a burning sensation. Unfortunately, this treatment is not yet available in South Africa.
Influenza A (H3N2) has caused most of the illnesses in this severe flu season, but influenza B is becoming increasingly responsible for more infections as the flu season continues to hit the United States.
It’s perfectly safe for you to be around friends and family members — even children — after getting the shingles vaccine. Rarely, people develop a chickenpox-like rash on their skin after they’ve been vaccinated. If you get this rash, you’ll want to cover it. Make sure any babies, young children, or people who are immunocompromised and haven’t been vaccinated against chickenpox don’t touch the rash.
ZOSTAVAX® II does not protect everyone, so some people who get the vaccine may still get shingles. However, if you develop shingles despite being vaccinated, ZOSTAVAX® II can help reduce the intensity and duration of pain. ZOSTAVAX® II is indicated for the prevention of herpes zoster (shingles) and for immunization of individuals 50 years of age or older. ZOSTAVAX® II cannot be used to treat existing shingles or the pain associated with existing shingles. ZOSTAVAX® II has not been studied in individuals who have previously experienced an episode of herpes zoster. Side effects and allergic reactions can occur. The most common side effects were at the injection site and included redness, pain, swelling, hard lump, itching, warmth, and bruising. Headache and pain in the arm or leg were also reported. ZOSTAVAX® II should not be used if you have a blood disorder or any type of cancer that weakens your immune system, a weakened immune system as a result of a disease, medication, or other treatment, active untreated tuberculosis or if you are pregnant.
After a person has chickenpox and recovers from it, the virus stays in their body but is inactive. At some point, the virus can be reactivated, causing shingles. The reasons for reactivation aren’t totally known, but Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., senior associate at the John’s Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells SELF that stress and a weakened immune system may come into play. It’s more common to develop shingles as you get older, since your immune system diminishes over time, but it’s possible for anyone to get the rash if they’ve had chickenpox—even children.
The primary means of failure in a slate roof is when individual slates lose their peg attachment and begin to slide out of place. This can open up small gaps above each slate. A secondary mode of failure is when the slates themselves begin to break up. The lower parts of a slate may break loose, giving a gap below a slate. Commonly the small and stressed area above the nail hole may fail, allowing the slate to slip as before. In the worst cases, a slate may simply break in half and be lost altogether. A common repair to slate roofs is to apply ‘torching’, a mortar fillet underneath the slates, attaching them to the battens. This may applied as either a repair, to hold slipping slates, or pre-emptively on construction.
CDC recommends Shingrix for adults 50 years and older. Even people who have had shingles or previously got Zostavax can be vaccinated with Shingrix to prevent shingles and the complications caused by the disease.
The C.D.C. committee held off on recommending Shingrix for the immunocompromised, because GSK is still running trials with these patients. But since the F.D.A. did not declare Shingrix contraindicated for them when approving it, they can get the vaccine once it’s available.
The vaccine against the varicella-zoster virus has been shown in large studies to be effective in reducing the risk of older people developing shingles. The vaccine has been shown to be safe with very few side-effects.
“When we look at the impact on people’s lives, shingles can be so devastating,” said Wanda Morris, vice-president of advocacy at CARP, formerly known as the Canadian Association of Retired Persons. “This is something we really need government to look at.”
Transmission only occurs through direct contact with blisters, and it can cause chickenpox in someone who has never been infected with the virus. During the time before blisters appear and after crusting, there is no risk of viral transmission.
Shingles has no relationship to season and does not occur in epidemics. There is, however, a strong relationship with increasing age. The incidence rate of shingles ranges from 1.2 to 3.4 per 1,000 person‐years among younger healthy individuals, increasing to 3.9–11.8 per 1,000 person‐years among those older than 65 years, and incidence rates worldwide are similar. This relationship with age has been demonstrated in many countries, and is attributed to the fact that cellular immunity declines as people grow older.
RZV is currently licensed for all persons 50 years of age and older. Immunosuppression is not included as a contraindication in the manufacturers’ package insert. However, immunocompromised persons and those on moderate to high doses of immunosuppressive therapy were excluded from the clinical efficacy studies so data are lacking on efficacy and safety in this group. ACIP has not made a recommendation regarding the use of RZV in these patients. This topic is anticipated to be discussed at upcoming ACIP meetings as additional data become available.