How Do You Get Shingles?
The shingles rash occurs in individuals who have had the chickenpox virus. Both conditions are caused by the herpes zoster virus, and once an individual has been infected with the virus, it stays in the body for life. If it activates later in life, it manifests as shingles.
Symptoms of Shingles
Shingles symptoms travel through a three-stage progression, which is as follows:
- Prodromal stage — Pain, burning, tingling and numbness may occur in the affected area, accompanied by flu symptoms with no fever and swelling of the lymph nodes.
- Active stage — This is the stage when the rash, which starts as blisters, appears. Typically the rash affects just one side of the body. The pain is piercing and intense. Eventually the blisters break and scab as healing begins.
- Postherpetic neuralgia — This stage is considered a complication of the condition and causes chronic pain in the area of the rash that can last for up to 30 days.
The pain from shingles can be debilitating, especially if it occurs on the face.
Is Shingles Contagious?
The shingles virus is not contagious, as it can only occur in individuals who have had chickenpox. The chickenpox virus is contagious, and it can cause shingles later.
Who Gets Shingles?
Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles, but the disease is most common in adults age 60 and older. According to the National Institutes of Health, around half of the American population will struggle with shingles by age 80. A weakened immune system can cause the reactivation of the virus, so it often occurs after a time of sickness.
How Is Shingles Treated?
Shingles has no cure, as the virus will always live inside the infected individual. Therefore, shingles treatment focuses on alleviating the symptoms and shortening the duration of the outbreak.
At the earliest signs of shingles, doctors can prescribe antiviral drugs to help encourage faster healing. The rash itself may be treated with capsaicin cream and oral medications that reduce pain and inflammation. If the patient is experiencing postherpetic neuralgia, prescription painkillers or injections of corticosteroids and local painkillers can help.
In addition, adults age 50 and older may be able to get the shingles vaccine. This vaccine does not guarantee the individuals will not suffer from shingles, but if they do, they will likely have a less severe case.
If you are noticing symptoms of shingles, prompt treatment can help lessen your suffering. AAYU Clinics offers walk-in and same-day appointments with the qualified staff of Aayu Clinics, so you can get prompt diagnosis and treatment for your symptoms. Contact us today for an appointment.