While it isn’t a life-threatening condition, shingles can be very painful. Vaccines can help reduce the risk of shingles, while early treatment can help shorten a shingles infection and lessen the chance of complications.
“Spread of the varicella zoster virus is usually through respiratory droplets or by contact with skin lesions,” Richard Watkins, M.D., an infectious disease physician and associate professor of internal medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells SELF, making this a highly contagious virus. So if you never got chickenpox and you haven’t been vaccinated, no one would blame you for keeping your distance from someone who currently has shingles.
Many people who are affected will experience pain, itching, or tingling at the site of the rash around 1 to 5 days before the shingles outbreak. A rash and pain may not be present during some outbreaks.
Anyone who has already had chicken pox is at risk of developing shingles later on in life. Both are caused by the same virus, the varicella-zoster virus. This virus stays dormant in the body after a chicken pox infection, but can become active again years later and trigger shingles (also called herpes zoster). It causes an often very painful rash with blisters that usually forms a band across the skin, but normally only affects one side of the body.
Research from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education Center also notes that the chicken pox vaccine weakens the zoster virus and may help reduce outbreaks of shingles in the future.
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of your torso.
Any unusual condition, such as a severe allergic reaction or a high fever. If a severe allergic reaction occurred, it would be within a few minutes to an hour after the shot. Signs of a serious allergic reaction can include difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, swelling of the throat, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heart beat, or dizziness.
If varicella vaccine is inadvertently given to an adult to prevent shingles, the previous recommendation was to give ZVL at same visit or at least 28 days later. Now, with the preference for RZV, should the recommendation be to give RZV at least 2 months later?
In clinical trials ZVL recipients had a 51% overall reduction in shingles and less severe illness when shingles did occur compared with placebo recipients. ZVL efficacy was inversely related to age; efficacy was 70% among persons 50-59 years of age, 64% among persons 60-69 years of age and 38% among persons 70 years and older. Protection against shingles declined over time after vaccination. By 6 years after vaccination protection declined to less than 35%.
You don’t “catch” shingles – it comes on when there’s a reawakening of chickenpox virus that’s already in your body. The virus can be reactivated because of advancing age, medication, illness or stress and so on.
The new vaccine to help prevent it is being touted by doctors as a breakthrough in the battle to protect seniors from preventable illnesses. Shingrix is recommended for people 50 and older. It is taken in two doses, a few months apart.
A man receives an H1N1 flu vaccine in Spain in 2009. Some advocates for seniors and health professionals are calling for a new shingles vaccine available in Canada in early 2018 to be provided for free. (Eloy Alonso/Reuters)
If the pain of shingles is very intense it may be mistaken for other problems, and occasionally people get the pain without a rash. Therefore, it is important to get a proper diagnosis in order to treat it as soon as possible.
Since the late 1990s, most children in the U.S. have received the varicella vaccine to protect against chickenpox. This vaccine uses a weakened strain of the varicella zoster virus that is less likely to settle into the body for the long haul.
Painful blisters aren’t usually harmless bug bites. “Some people mistake shingles blisters for spider bites, says Tracy Lippard, MD, geriatrician for Kaiser Permanente in Colorado. “Getting care quickly is important, as the medication to treat shingles works best if it’s started within three days of the rash.” (Check out these eight diseases that are written all over your face—literally.)
The causative agent for shingles is the varicella zoster virus (VZV) – a double-stranded DNA virus related to the Herpes simplex virus. Most individuals are infected with this virus children which causes an episode of chickenpox. The immune system eventually eliminates the virus from most locations, but it remains dormant (or latent) in the ganglia adjacent to the spinal cord (called the dorsal root ganglion) or the trigeminal ganglion in the base of the skull.
Colloidal or powerderized oatmeal baths are an old standby for relieving the itch of chickenpox and can help with shingles, as well. To speed up the drying out of the blisters, try placing a cool, damp washcloth on the rash (but not when wearing calamine lotion or other creams.) If your doctor gives you the green light, stay active while recovering from shingles. Gentle exercise or a favorite activity may help keep your mind off the discomfort.
A viral illness, shingles is caused by varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. The virus lives in your body and reactivates more readily when your immune system is suppressed. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 million people in the United States experience a shingles outbreak every year.