What is shingles?
Shingles is a disease that causes a painful, burning, itching, or tingling sensation on one side of your body or face. A rash of blister-like sores typically accompanies the discomfort of the skin. The varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that triggers chickenpox, causes the disease. Left untreated, shingles can lead to complications such as nerve damage or vision loss.
Who is at risk of developing shingles?
- Individuals who have had chickenpox.
- Those over 50 years of age; the risk increases as you get older.
- People under extreme stress.
- Anyone with a compromised immune system.
Can you prevent shingles?
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the shingles vaccine is the only prevention against the disease. There is no guarantee that the vaccine will ward off the disease, but experts agree it will minimize symptoms and possible complications.
What are the symptoms of shingles?
- Pain, itching, or tingling of the skin.
- A painful rash of blister-like sores, which usually develop 1-5 days after the onset of skin discomfort. In some instances, people do not develop a rash.
- Upset stomach.
Keep in mind, shingles usually only affects one side of your body and/or face.
How is shingles diagnosed?
Usually your physician can diagnose shingles from the pain you’re experiencing and/or the rash. In some instances, a tissue culture or swab of a blister may be sent to a laboratory for examination.
What is the treatment for shingles?
- Antiviral medications: will help shorten the length and severity of your outbreak.
- Pain medications: may help relieve the pain of shingles.
- Topical treatments: wet compresses, calamine lotion, and colloidal oatmeal baths may relieve itching of the skin.
*Remember to use your FamilyWize Discount Prescription Drug Card to receive discounts on any medications your healthcare provider might prescribe.
What’s the connection between shingles and chickenpox?
Shingles and chickenpox are both caused by the same virus, varicella-zoster. Once you’ve had chickenpox, the virus remains inactive in certain nerves in your body; you may develop shingles if the virus is reactivated. You will not develop shingles if you have not had chickenpox first.
Is shingles contagious?
Yes, it can be. Typically, direct contact through the open sores associated with shingles can result in “catching” the virus. If you have not had chickenpox, the virus will present as chickenpox if you catch it.
What’s the latest news on shingles?
A recent report in the British Medical Journal indicates that individuals with immunosuppressive conditions, such as HIV and leukemia, are at highest risk of developing shingles. Yet, due to safety concerns, these same individuals should not receive the shingles vaccine. As a result, researchers recognize the importance of finding ways to reduce to risk of shingles among patients with immunosuppression.
Where can you learn more about shingles?