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Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is caused by the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus. After experiencing chickenpox or exposure to the varicella zoster virus, the virus stays dormant in the body for life. With age, the immune system naturally weakens, which may allow the usually inactive virus to reactivate, causing Shingles.
Hence, older people have an increased chance of getting Shingles. It typically produces a painful, blistering rash that appears on one side of the body or face.
The varicella zoster virus is responsible for chickenpox (also known as herpes zoster). After a person has chickenpox, the virus stays in their body and becomes inactive. The virus can become active again years later and cause Shingles. Scientists aren’t exactly sure what causes the virus to become active again. However, there may be multiple factors. A persons immune system weakens as they age. The more the immune system weakens, the less likely it is to prevent the virus from reactivating. Hence, older people are more at risk from Shingles.
Firstly, anyone who has had chickenpox already has the virus that can cause Shingles. Some people have had chickenpox and don’t remember it or might not have realised it. Either way, they can develop Shingles if the virus reactivates, despite how healthy they may feel.
People with low immunity are at a higher risk of developing Shingles. And since the immune system naturally weakens over time with age, people are at a higher risk after age 50.
Older adults are also at increased risk of having complications such as Post-herpetic Neuralgia (PHN).
The virus that causes Shingles is already present in the body from when you are infected with chickenpox. It goes dormant until reactivated. Hence, you cannot pass it on to another.
However, it could infect another if they haven’t had chickenpox or arent protected against it. The virus could be transmitted if the person comes into direct contact with the blisters of someone with Shingles to develop chickenpox.
Shingles typically produces a painful rash that often blisters, and scabs over in 10 to 15 days and clears up within 2 to 4 weeks. It usually appears on one side of the body or face. 48-72 hours before the rash appears, people may experience pain, itching, tingling, or numbness in the area where the rash will develop.
There is a possibility that stress can increase your risk of Shingles. That said, age is the most important factor for developing Shingles. Most of the Shingles cases occur in adults 50 years and older.
Please speak with your doctor to know more.
Chickenpox is a very contagious disease that causes a blister-like rash typically all over the body, itching, and fever. The chickenpox virus can reactivate, causing Shingles. People with Shingles may have pain, itching, tingling, and blisters in one area of the body that can last for weeks.
You cannot develop Shingles if you’ve never had chickenpox. However, there is a chance that you might have been exposed to the virus unknowingly, or you may not remember being exposed to it. In such a scenario, you may be at risk of developing Shingles.
Herpes zoster ophthalmicus is a Shingles infection that affects the eye and the ocular area. Symptoms include forehead rash and painful inflammation of all the tissues.
While most people recover from Shingles infection fully, some might face health complications
PHN is a health complication that affects up to 25% of people with Shingles. One of the main symptoms of PHN is nerve pain that continues for months or years after the Shingles rash is healed. The pain usually is experienced in the affected area.
Ophthalmic complications occur in up to 50% of people with herpes zoster opthalmicus (HZO), a Shingles rash that involves the eye or nose. Up to 30% of people with HZO may develop double vision. Damage to the optic nerve of the eye is rare and occurs in less than 0.5% of people with HZO.
Neurological complications such as encephalitis (swelling of the brain) are rare and estimated to occur in up to 1% of people who get Shingles.
In rare cases, the Shingles virus can reactivate in the hearing system, leading to herpes zoster oticus. Symptoms include hearing impairment, vertigo, tinnitus, severe facial pain, and facial paralysis (Ramsay Hunt Syndrome). Problems with balance may develop in up to 1% of people with Shingles.
This is not an exhaustive list of health complications arising after Shingles. Please speak to a doctor for more information.
Shingles typically produces a painful and blistering rash, erupting in a stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or right side of the torso, along a nerve path. It can develop on the torso, arms, thighs, or head (including in the eyes or ears). People often describe the pain as aching#, burning#, stabbing#, or shock-like#. It may interfere with everyday activities, like getting dressed, walking, and sleeping.
A Shingles infection usually starts with a skin rash that affects a small part of the body. The affected person may also experience pain that feels like electric shocks# or piercing nails# or burns caused by boiling water#, itching, tingling, and numbness localised to the affected areas 48-72 hours before the rash appears.
People can also experience fever, headache, chills or upset stomach.
So, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please talk to a doctor quickly.
BURNS FROM BOILING WATER#
If you get Shingles, talk to your doctor to know more about Shingles and its prevention.
Shingles Prevention Options
Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the virus that remains in the body after chickenpox. So, if a person hasn’t had chickenpox, ask them to avoid contact with people who have chickenpox or Shingles. Also, ensure that they follow all hand and cough hygiene to reduce the risk of developing chickenpox.
Vaccination may help prevent Shingles. Talk to your doctor to know more about Shingles and its Prevention.
Vaccination boosts your bodys immune system so it can fight off the Shingles virus and keep it from reactivating.
Treatment may reduce the severity and duration of illness and depending on your symptoms may include weakening the virus and/or pain relief.
If you think your elders may have Shingles, please speak with your doctor immediately for appropriate treatment to help reduce the severity and duration of your symptoms.
General advice for managing symptoms:
Speak to a doctor to know more about Shingles and its prevention.
Speak to a doctor to know more about Shingles and its prevention.