Shingles is a painful skin disease that typically occurs on a particular side of the body. It generally hits the torso or the face, sometimes in the lower part of the waist and legs. Shingles on legs and face are the most painful. It is the most common disease, and every year around 1 million people are affected by it. The name Shingles is derived from a Latin word called Cingulum. It triggers most people with a weak immune system as well as the older people.
Contagious period of Shingles
Once you get the Shingles symptoms, you have to deal with the disease for approximately a couple of weeks. The worst part about the disease is its contagious effect. It can be spread from the affected person easily by the fluids from the blisters on the skin. Its contagion period stays until the blisters are completely dried and recovered. Though in rare cases, the affected person can spread this disease even after recovering.
If a person who had not gone through chickenpox comes to direct contact with a Shingles patient, he/ she has a high possibility of developing the chickenpox. Later in life, they develop shingles symptoms. But, if you had already suffered from chickenpox, the chances of developing the pox other than Shingles are less.
Cause of the disease
The infection of Shingles is caused by a virus named Varicella Zoster. People having chickenpox in their earlier stages of life can most probably catch this disease. The virus responsible for the chickenpox is also the same. In the chickenpox affected people, the virus rests near the brain and spinal cord tissue. Though it remains inactive first, it may become active again causing shingles.
There is no clear reason for developing shingles symptoms. But, according to the researchers, the virus that causes the disease mainly attacks those who have poor immune. The Varicella-Zoster belongs to the virus group that spreads diseases like genital herpes, STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease). But, there is no connection between both of them.
Though singles is not a life-taking disease, its symptoms are very deadly and disturbing. Immediate treatment is required once you get the symptoms. If you leave it untreated, it will spread in all parts of your torso. The blisters will become large and more painful.
Different phrases of Shingles
You can find three phases of Shingles:
The first phase of shingles is its occurrence when the symptoms first start to show its visibility. The early-stage shingles symptoms include burning, itching, or numb under the skin.
The second phase appears within 5 to 6 days from the initial phase. In this stage, your skin develops small fluid-filled painful blisters. At the same time, you may undergo fever, body ache, fatigue, etc.
This phase starts after 15 to 20 days after the diagnosis. At this time, the blisters upon your skin tend to dry and form crusts. After a few weeks, the crusts fall out, and the affected area tends to grow new skin cells.
Symptoms of Shingles
Once you diagnose the initial shingles symptoms, consult the doctor immediately before letting the diseases spread severely. At first, you will get to see blistering rashes on your skin, and these rashes will give you itching and burning sensation on your skin. At times, you will feel extreme pain caused by those blisters.
The pain and irritation appear a few days after you get the visible rashes on your skin. But, in a few cases, the rashes may not be noticeable in the first place. In those cases, you can diagnose the shingles symptoms no rash by other characteristics such as body aches, fevers, nausea, headache, swelled glands, malaise, etc. Within a few days of these visible symptoms, the rashes in the form of small blisters will develop on the outer surface of the skin. If you develop all these symptoms, have a quick consult with a skin specialist. Otherwise, the blisters will spread massively into the other parts of your fresh skin. It usually happens from the contact of the fluid when the blisters burst.
The rashes or blisters on the skin most commonly last for three to four weeks. With proper medicines, the fluids of the blisters start drying. Eventually, the size of the blisters shrinks, and they recover by shedding rash crusts. When it is completely cured, scarring in the skin and the discoloration is highly possible. The mild shingles are less painful and they stay for at least for a week or two. It can be cured with simple home remedies.
Home remedies for curing mild shingles
Though treating shingles at home is not advisable. But, if you get mild shingles with small blisters, you can try out these following home remedies to treat the disease-
- The first thing to do to deal with the shingles is to keep your hand out of the rashes. Do not scratch or poke them; several germs live in your hands. Hence, it can make the skin condition poorer and make the rashes easily spreadable. The next thing to take care of is avoiding cosmetics and other harsh skin products. You must clean the affected area with mild cleanser or soap. Also, apply some calamine lotion on the outbreaks to heal them.
- One last thing that you can do to treat them is the contact of cold compress. Always wash the area with cold water. You can also use ice cubes or ice bags on the blisters minimum of 3 to 4 times a day. Do it for at least 20 minutes for the fast recovery of the rashes from your skin.
- Last but not least, give your preference to loose clothes when the rashes are in the inner part of your body. Tight-fitting clothes may worsen the condition making it more painful.
When to seek a doctor’s help?
When the shingles symptoms are serious enough, do not do the foolishness of treating it at home. Sometimes, the complications of the shingles may have a serious effect on your health. Thus, when you feel that the rashes caused by the shingles are large and painful. Moreover, when the fluids are leaking from the blisters and wide-spreading them, do consult a doctor for immediate treatment. Your doctors will examine you carefully and prescribe effective medicines to recover the fearful condition.
Complications of the disease
Shingles symptoms may primarily appear as skin rashes, but the complications of this disease are fearsome and dangerous. The complicacy generally occurs when your immunity power is remarkably low or you are getting aged. To give you a brief knowledge, some of the complications of this disease are discussed below-
1. Skin infection
It is the most common and low risky complication that you can suffer from shingles. If the minor skin blisters do not get proper treatment, there is an extreme possibility of getting troublesome skin infection in the major part of your skin.
2. Vision loss
It is another most commonly seen complication in the shingles patient. If you get blisters around or near your eyes, it will spread into the neighboring area of your eyes. It may result in serious eye infection and later can cause a loss in vision. The condition of the eye surrounding rashes is referred to as ophthalmic shingles.
3. Postherpetic neuralgia
It refers to the condition when you still have the burning sensation and pain even after the blisters are cured completely. It happens when the vexatious nervous system delivers an unnecessary message of pain to the brain.
4. Neurological issues
Shingles can deeply infect your brain causing inflammation of the brain tissues. It can result in hearing problems and even facial paralysis.
Patients who majorly affected by shingles
The shingles symptoms are especially harmful to a certain group of people. People over 50 are the worst sufferers of the disease. Apart from them, patients undergoing cancer treatment can be triggered the most. People taking medications for organ transplantation can also get severe effects.
Medicines that are generally used to treat shingles
After you are diagnosed with shingles symptoms, your doctor will prescribe you with some certain medicines to treat your pain and to heal the infection. These medicines ease the pain of your rashes, giving you much relief; they include:
Painkillers are the most necessary medicines in case shingles treatment. It is a much pain and the pain is intolerable. To ease the pain, the following medicines are prescribed:
These medicines are especially given in the condition of postherpetic neuralgia. You may feel drowsiness after consuming these drugs. But, it is completely fine as most of the painkillers leave this common side effect. Apart from these, in the postherpetic neuralgia, the doctors can advise you to use the Capsaicin cream to treat the after pain and infections of the disease.
The antiviral medications work wonder after consuming within 72 hours of the first visible symptom. These medicines cut the advancement of the disease; they include:
Make sure not to intake these without a doctor’s recommendation as each medicine is suggested according to the type of disease and your body type. Make sure not to intake these without a doctor’s recommendation as each medicine is suggested according to the type of disease and your body type. These medicines do have some mild side effects, but they can be easily copped up with.
How to prevent Shingles?
From undergoing the treatment of this dangerous disease, taking essential steps to prevent it will be a better thought. As most commonly, Shingles triggers the chickenpox patient, it will be great to take a chickenpox vaccine. Chickenpox vaccine comes in two doses; receiving both of them will cut the chance of meeting the disease. However, the immunization does not promise the whole precaution. 1 out of 10 people can suffer from it even after taking the shot.
The older people of 50 and beyond that should get a shingles vaccine. The Varicella-zoster vaccine for shingles can reduce the seriousness and complications of the symptoms.
Two vaccines are available in the market for treating shingles: Shringix and Zostaxax. Between both of them, Shringix is the most powerful. The specialists advise taking the Shringix shot even after you have taken the Zostavax.
Can shingles transmit through the air?
The virus responsible for causing shingles is Varicella-zoster, which is not airborne. Thus, you will not catch the disease from someone’s sneeze or cough. It does not even transmit from their used bottles or utensils. But, make sure to avoid direct contact from the specific part of the skin where the rashes appear.
Is the disease painful?
People who suffer from mild shingles can feel less pain and irritation of the disease. But, people suffering from severe infection can go through tremendous pain. Some people feel the acute pain, even without getting the rashes. People with rashes cannot even touch the part where those develop. Even a mild touch of the gentle breeze can hurt the blisters.
Is it necessary to stay home after developing shingles?
It completely relies upon your skin condition and the people outside whom you deal with. If your institution or office readily accepts your arrival, you can go. But, it would be better to stay at home until it is recovered. If you have urgency, try to stay at home for at least 7 to 10 days from the diagnosis.
Can a shingles affected person take a shower?
They can. Moreover, they should, but with cold water. When the rashes come across with the coolness, you may get a calming sensation.
Can shingles transmit from clothing?
If the piece of clothing contains the fluid of the shingles blisters, the chances of getting the disease are leading.