Shingles Information

I am looking for information on Shingles.

By Anna from Pensacola, FL

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February 17, 20100 found this helpful

What is shingles?

Shingles ( herpes zoster) is a viral infection of the nerve roots. It causes pain and often causes a rash on one side of the body, the left or right. The rash appears in a band, a strip, or a small area. Shingles is most common in older adults and people who have weak immune systems because of stress, injury, certain medicines, or other reasons. Most people who get shingles will get better and will not get it again.

What causes shingles?

Shingles occurs when the virus that causes chickenpox starts up again in your body. After you get better from chickenpox, the virus "sleeps" (is dormant) in your nerve roots. In some people, it stays dormant forever. In others, the virus "wakes up" when disease, stress, or aging weakens the immune system. It is not clear why this happens. But after the virus becomes active again, it can only cause shingles, not chickenpox.

You can't catch shingles from someone else who has shingles. But a person with a shingles rash can spread chickenpox to another person who hasn't had chickenpox and who hasn't gotten the chickenpox vaccine.

What are the symptoms?

Shingles symptoms happen in stages. At first you may have a headache or be sensitive to light. You may also feel like you have the flu but not have a fever.

Later, you may feel itching, tingling, or pain in a certain area. Thats where a band, strip, or small area of rash may occur a few days later. The rash turns into clusters of blisters. The blisters fill with fluid and then crust over. It takes 2 to 4 weeks for the blisters to heal, and they may leave scars. Some people only get a mild rash, and some do not get a rash at all.

Its possible that you could also feel dizzy or weak, or you could have long-term pain or a rash on your face, changes in your vision, changes in how well you can think, or a rash that spreads. If you have any of these problems from shingles, call your doctor right away.

How is shingles treated?

There is no cure for shingles, but treatment may help you get well sooner and prevent other problems. Call your doctor as soon as you think you may have shingles. The sooner you start treatment, the better it works. Treatment may include:

Antiviral medicines to help you get well sooner and feel less pain.

Medicines to help long-term pain. These include antidepressants, pain medicines, and skin creams.

Good home care can help you feel better faster. Take care of any skin sores, and keep them clean. Take your medicines as directed. And use over-the-counter pain medicines to relieve pain.

Avoid contact with people until the rash heals. While you have shingles, you can spread chickenpox to people who have never had chickenpox and who haven't gotten the chickenpox vaccine. Be extra careful to avoid people with weak immune systems and pregnant women and babies who have never had chickenpox and have never gotten the vaccine.

Who gets shingles?

Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles. You have a greater chance of getting shingles if you: 1

Are older than 50.

Have an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack your body's own tissues.

Have another health problem or stress that weakens the immune system.

If you have never had chickenpox and have not gotten the chickenpox vaccine, avoid touching someone who has shingles or chickenpox. If you are at least 60 years old, you can get a vaccine that may prevent shingles or make it less painful if you do get it.

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February 21, 20100 found this helpful

I had Shingles for the first time after a leg surgery left me with nerve damage, and I can tell you it can be very painful.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/shingles/DS00098

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February 24, 20100 found this helpful

There was an article in our paper recently regarding a vaccine against shingles called Zostavax. You have to be over a certain age but I don't remember how old you have to be.

You can either get it at your pharmacy and then take it to your doctor, or some pharmacies such as some Walgreens, are letting pharmacists do the vaccinations.

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