Shingles is a viral infection that can cause painful rash on your body. Shingles can develop anywhere on your body but most likely it appears on the left or right side of your torso, neck or face as a single stripe of blisters.
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox named varicella-zoster. The virus of the chickenpox lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain even after years of you having had chickenpox. This if reactivates at any time can cause shingles.
Shingles are not life threatening but yes, it is painful. While adequate vaccines can reduce the risk of shingles, timely treatment can reduce the infection and avert off the complications.
Be careful for the following signs and reach out to a doctor without delay.
Shingles usually impact one side of your body. The result may be:
- Pain, burning, tingling or numbness
- Red rash occurring few days following the pain
- Sensitivity to touch
- Liquid filled blisters with a crust over
Not always but some people may also face the below symptoms:
- Muscular weakness
There may be some serious though rare complications as a result of shingles. There can be:
- Rash or pain in the eye. This needs to be treated in order to avoid permanent eye damage.
- Similarly there can be intense pain in the ear or loss of hearing, loss of taste or dizziness.
- Bacterial infections
Risk Factors for Shingles
Chickenpox is one key factor for development on shingles. Other factors include:
- Having HIV, AIDS or cancer – diseases causing low immunity
- Having undergone chemotherapy or radiation treatment
- Undergoing steroids or medications given after organ transplant
- Being 50 years of age or more
Getting vaccinated in time can help preventing serious shingles symptoms or its complications.
While it is imperative for all children to receive to two doses of chickenpox vaccine known as varicella vaccine, adults should also get it if they have never had it. Though immunization does not a guarantee that you will not develop chickenpox but as seen 9 out 10 people do not.
There is another vaccine for shingles called varicella-zoster which adults over 50 years of age should get as the chances of having shingles increase as you age.
Shingles is Contagious
If you or anyone in your family becomes infected with shingles, be sure to take care of the below things?
- Keep your rash covered
- Wash your hands frequently
- Do not touch people you think have low immunity
You definitely need to consult a doctor if you doubt shingles. Do check for the below signs if not clear:
- If you feel pain or rash near an eye, this could be potential shingles. If not treated well in time, it can lead to permanent eye damage.
- You or someone in your family has weakened immune system owing to cancer, HIV, AIDS or any kind of medication
- If you feel pain anywhere without even appearance of rash, it could be a potential sign of shingles taking place because in some cases pain is the first sign of shingles.