If you’re reading this, then there are chances you have either heard about shingles, been through the drastic experience of bearing with them, or are either suffering with them. But fret not. Today we’ll try to cover everything you need to know about shingles, what they are, how they form, and what to do if you suffer from them.
What are shingles?
Shingle is a viral infection that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It causes painful rashes on your body. This can usually occur in patients who have suffered from chickenpox and can occur in them when this virus lies inactively near your nerve tissues of the spinal cord. This is because this is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Usually, this is spread across the upper torso, but it can also spread down your body and legs if severe. Its alternative name is herpes zoster. (Just in case you are wondering). This is not a life-threatening illness, but it can be quite painful for the person suffering from it.
How exactly does one get shingles?
If you have suffered from chickenpox, the chances are that you will catch this as well. This is because the varicella virus can enter your body during your infection with the chickenpox and lie dormant in your body for quite a long time. This virus is located in and near the nerve tissues of your spinal cord. The shingles’ soreness is characterized by the fact that this virus is also capable of causing herpes, and hence it brings along similar symptoms. Although the root cause for why this occurs is unclear, it has been seen that an adult with a weak immunity will be suspectable to catch this illness more likely.
The following features characterize shingles:
- It spreads on one side of the body only. You will not have shingles going all across the body. This applies across the torso and can go down the buttocks and legs in some cases too.
- Pain in the body and the skin, after which rashes develop in a few days.
- Fluid-filled blisters form on the torso and can spread down to the legs in severe cases. These occur in the area where an individual develops rashes. The blisters are the cause of soreness and pain.
- Itching. Blisters usually are suspectable of causing itching due to the intense soreness.
- Fatigue. The pain and soreness can cause fatigue alongside with the virus attacking the immune system. This can lead to the next symptom, which is a fever.
- Fever. The body will try to fight the virus and cause the individual to have a mild to severe fever depending on the infection’s intensity.
Who is more exposed to shingles
It is essential to understand that this illness must not be overlooked as something mild. There is something to look at when considering if someone is susceptible to the disease. Certain kind of individuals is more prone to catching this illness.
If you are someone above 60 with a weak immune system, you may risk catching the illness. Similarly, doctors hint that individuals who use many steroidal medications are also prone to this illness. People with HIV or AIDS also are under the risk of catching the illness.
How to prevent shingles
There isn’t exactly any specific way to prevent the illness because one may never know when the virus has entered your body. The fact that it can lay dormant in a body also makes it hard to detect it. However, the best possible way to prevent it is to have you properly vaccinated against the illness. Currently, there are two kinds of vaccines for the disease, which include:
This is important to protect yourself from getting infected severely from the pox disease, causing a gateway and opening for this disease. This vaccine works to reduce complications.
The shingles vaccine
There are two main types of vaccine. The first one is Zostavax, an FDA-approved vaccine that is used for the virus. It helps to stay protected for about five years. The other one is called the Shingrix vaccine, comprising non-living components of the virus, which was approved in 2017. It is recommended for ages 50 and above and is usually given in two doses total. It is usually suggested for those who have had taken their Zostavax shots.
Treatment and medication
If one is infected with the viral disease, it is essential to gain relief from it. Usually, medications and creams (topical) are suggested for this. A question that often comes to the mind of a person is “what cream is good for shingles“.
Doctors and professionals suggest acyclovir infused topical creams or creams that have capsaicin. Lidocaine extracts are also beneficial; hence, creams consisting of these are a great option to consider. However, it is best advised to avoid self-medication and consult a doctor or health practitioner before using any cream. Medications include ibrufen or anti-inflammatory along with painkillers for the fatigue and fever.
Is shingles an infectious disease?
When the blisters are present on an individual’s skin, it is in the stage where another person can be prone to catching it. It is best to avoid interacting with such individuals until the blisters are gone. This is because the disease is transmitted via airborne or water droplets. If this virus infects you, it is best advised to stay home isolated until you are clear of the blisters. Once the blisters have dried out and crusted, you can slowly come out of isolation.
You are not alone if you have shingles. Thousands of individuals in the US are victims of this illness every year and recover if they take proper care and precaution. Therefore it is not something to worry about. Instead, visit your doctor at the first sign or susceptible symptom of shingles.
Mayo clinic. (n.d.). www.mayoclinic.org. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/shingles/symptoms-causes/syc-20353054