Things you need to know about Shingles
Shingles is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Even after the chickenpox infection is over, the virus remains dormant in your nervous system for years before reactivating as shingles.
Symptoms of shingles
The first symptoms of shingles are usually pain and burning. The pain is typically on one side of your body, and along a certain area of the skin called a dermatome. A red rash often follows. However, the rash does not always appear red. Depending on skin tone, the rash can appear dark pink, dark brown, or purplish.
Some people with shingles experience symptoms beyond pain and rash. These symptoms may include:
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Stages of shingles
Most shingles cases last from 3 to 5 weeks. After the varicella-zoster virus initially reactivates, your skin may:
… feel numb
Shingles usually develops on one side of your body, often on your waist, back, or chest.
Within about 5 days, you may see a red rash in that area. Small groups of oozing, fluid-filled blisters may appear a few days later in the same area. You may experience flu-like symptoms such as a fever, headache, or fatigue.
During the next 10 days or so, the blisters will dry up and form scabs. The scabs will clear after a couple of weeks. After the scabs clear, some people continue to experience pain. This is called postherpetic neuralgia.
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. If you’ve already had chickenpox, you can develop shingles when this virus reactivates in your body.
Is shingles contagious?
Shingles is not contagious. But the varicella-zoster virus that causes it can be spread to another person who hasn’t had chickenpox, and they could develop chickenpox.
There’s no cure for shingles, but treating it as soon as possible can help prevent complications and speed up your recovery. Ideally, you should receive treatment within 72 hours of developing symptoms. Your Pharmacist may prescribe medications to ease symptoms and shorten the length of the infection.
Fortunately, you can take proactive steps to prevent attacks in children and seniors.
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