Fitness Facts: Shingles

Connie Colbert

By Connie Colbert
Director, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic

Shingles is a painful skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus, otherwise known as the chickenpox virus.  

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. Shingles usually appears in a band, a strip or a small area on one side of the face or body.

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. But it is possible to get shingles more than once.

 Anyone who has had chickenpox also might develop shingles. What reactivates the virus is not clear.

Shingles causes a painful rash that may appear as a stripe of blisters on the trunk of the body, but they can occur on any part of the body. The pain from shingles can persist even after the rash is gone – it’s called postherpetic neuralgia.

What are the symptoms of shingles?

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

The first symptoms of shingles appear one to five days before the rash. People often have pain, itching or tingling in the area where it will develop. This may happen several days before the rash appears. That’s where a band, strip or small area of rash may occur.

The rash turns into clusters of blisters. Shingles blisters usually scab over in 7-10 days and disappear completely in 2-4 weeks. The blisters fill with fluid and then crust over. It takes 2-4 weeks for the blisters to heal, and they may leave scars. Some people get only a mild rash, and some do not get a rash at all.

You also may feel dizzy or weak or you could have pain or a rash on your face, changes in your vision, changes in how well you can think or a rash that spreads. A rash or blisters on your face, especially near an eye or on the tip of your nose, can be a warning of eye problems.

You cannot catch shingles from someone else who has shingles. But there is a small chance that a person with a shingles rash can spread the virus to another person who has not had chickenpox and who has not had the chickenpox vaccine.

Treatments include pain relief and antiviral medications such as acyclovir or valacyclovir. A chickenpox vaccine in childhood or a shingles vaccine as an adult can minimize the risk of developing shingles.

Call your doctor now if you think you may have shingles. It’s best to get early treatment. Medicine can help your symptoms get better sooner.

And if you have shingles near your eye or nose, see your doctor right away. Shingles that gets into the eye can cause permanent eye damage.

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Bible Verse

Jesus taught his disciples, saying: "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets." (Matthew 7:12)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/