Shingle is a viral infection that leads to a painful skin rash. It can show up in every part of your body. The color of the rash may appear to be red, dark brown, purple, or pink depending on your skin tone, and develops at one side of your body. When you see symptoms of shingles, you may need to contact a professional provider. By getting early treatment, you may reduce the risk and complications of shingles in your life. Read about the shingles symptoms, causes, and treatment in this post.
What Are Shingles?
Shingles are also known as herpes zoster. This infection is developed by the varicella-zoster virus. It is the same virus that develops chickenpox. When chickenpox gets treated, this virus remains in your body throughout your life. After many years, the varicella-zoster virus may appear in the form of shingles.
A shingles rash often begins with a group of bumps that may form on the right or left side of your body part. These bumps can easily be differentiable with the skin and may change with the skin tones. They may come out as pink, purple, gray, or brown on darker skin while red on lighter skin. After some time, these bumps convert into blisters (fluid-filled under the skin layers) that also change with the skin tone. Generally, the blisters dry out and develop a hard layer in at least 7 to 10 days.
Shingles take about 3 to 5 weeks to clear up in most cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one out of three people in the United States may experience shingles at any life stage. This infection may repeatedly appear to the person having the risk factors, which is not popular.
Symptoms of shingles
According to the CDC, the early-stage shingles rash shows pain and burning. Shingles symptoms develop at one side of your body in a particular area. Here are the symptoms of shingles, which include:
- Sensitivity to touch
- Inflammation, tingling, or itching
- The appearance of a red rash that develops after some time of the pain
- Fluid-filled blisters dry out and form a hard solid layer
- Fatigue or tiredness
- Intolerance in response to light
The shingles rash pain is more severe in some people. A possibility is present that you may have pain due to other reasons, such as kidney or heart problems, which can be confused with shingles. It often develops with blisters on the left or right side of the body parts. You may sometimes have shingles on one side of your neck or face or at only one eye.
If you see any of these symptoms, you should contact an online provider to get treatment for this infection when you have shingles symptoms. The treatment may help to decrease the chance of complications such as postherpetic neuralgia, a condition in which pain continues till you have received treatment for a rash.
When to visit a doctor?
You may need to consult a doctor when you see the symptoms of shingles in your body. Following are the possible factors that you may also need to consider:
- If you have a rash or pain near your eye. Eye damage may occur if you avoid getting treatment for it.
- Having age 50 or above. The increasing age factor may lead to more complications.
- A family history of a weak immune system may happen because of cancer, chronic illness, or medicines.
- Rash spreads throughout your body.
Causes of Shingles
The leading cause of shingles is the varicella-zoster virus, which produces chickenpox. If a person already has experienced chickenpox, there is a possible chance of developing shingles. When you get treatment for chickenpox, this virus remains there in your body for a long time and does not show any problems.
When the virus activates, it goes toward the nerve pathway to your skin and results in shingles. People do not have shingles after chickenpox. The possible causes of shingles are not clear yet. Providers think that it may develop because of low immunity to infections with increasing age. Shingles generally develop in older people who have weakened immune systems.
How to Diagnose shingles?
A provider will physically examine your rashes through a microscope. You may need to provide medical history and what symptoms of shingles you have. In some cases, a doctor may use a special swab to collect the fluid sample from the infected area. If you have a virus, it will be detected through the test report.
Risk factors for shingles
If you have a weakened immune system, this results in the activation of the virus. Following are the risk factors for shingles when you already had recovered from chickenpox, including:
- Age 50 or above. People aged 60 or more have more chances of developing shingles.
- Cancer, HIV, and other infections lead to a decrease in your defense system.
- Extreme injury during a physical activity
- Intake of medication or steroids for a long that may affect the immune system
- Avoiding taking the vaccine for chickenpox when you are an adult
- Stress or anxiety
- Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation may decrease your ability to fight infection and result in shingles.
Complications of shingles
Shingles may develop long-term complications even after the rash disappear that include:
- Eye problems or blurry vision if you have a rash around your eye.
- Inflammation in your brain because shingles may show effects on particular nerves.
- Postherpetic neuralgia is a condition in which pain remains present after you have received treatment for a rash.
Are shingles contagious?
Yes, there is a risk of spreading the varicella-zoster virus to people even if they haven’t had chickenpox and have taken vaccination.
You may transfer this infection to others until all the blisters develop a hard layer. You should avoid meeting with pregnant women who didn’t experience chickenpox before, people with weakened immune systems, and infants.
Shingles cannot be cured, but treatment can prevent further complications and help to recover as soon as possible. If you discuss your conditions with an online provider, you may receive several treatment options, including vaccines, medications, and others.
The CDC suggests at least two doses of Shingrix to prevent and reduce the complications of shingles in age groups between 18 to 50 or above. A provider will recommend this vaccine to those with a weakened immune system. You can also take this vaccine if you have experienced shingles.
You may need to take specific medication or drugs to decrease your chance of complications. Your provider may suggest any of these three medications protect you against the virus, including:
- Famciclovir (Famvir)
- Valacyclovir (Valtrex)
- Acyclovir (Zovirax)
You should take the medications after three days of the rash or when you see the shingles symptoms. After that, you may consult an online medical service from a provider.
If you want to decrease your shingles pain, you can apply and use the following:
- An ice pack or cool compresses
- Anticonvulsant medicines such as gabapentin
- Medicines with no prescription, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen
Shingles are not life-threatening. Shingles may get worse if you avoid taking action for them. Shingles vaccines and medications can prevent shingles. If you are looking for an online provider, you may request an e-visit from a doctor.