What is Shingles and Who is likely to get Shingles?
Shingles is an infection caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. This virus is called the varicella zoster virus. Even after chicken pox blisters heal, the varicella zoster virus stays in the body for life. If it becomes active again, it causes shingles. Two out of every 10 people will get shingles in their lifetime. This risk increases as you get older, especially over 50 years of age. Shingles is a painful, blistering rash that can last several weeks and cause skin infections and scarring.
Shingles is most common in people over age 50 and in those who have a weak immune system.
Treatment for shingles should begin within 3 days of the outbreak of the rash. If you delay treatment or don’t get treatment at all, you can increase the risk that shingles will lead to complications.
Shingles can cause severe pain for months or even years after the rash has healed. This long-term pain is called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) and it can interfere with normal day-to-day activities such as walking, sleeping, and social activities. It can also lead to anxiety and depression, and even result in a loss of mobility and independent living. For some, the pain can be excruciating; even a breeze or the touch of clothing brushing against the skin can cause severe pain.
It is often hard to tell if you have shingles during the prodromal stage, before the rash appears. That’s because the symptoms of other conditions can look like shingles symptoms. Once the rash appears, however, you need to go to a healthcare provider as soon as you can. Treating shingles within 3 days after the rash appears can help to lessen the duration and severity of symptoms.
Shingles is most often treated with antiviral prescription drugs that fight the virus and reduce the time that it is active or pain relievers and anti-inflammatories, either by prescription or over-the-counter.
It is very important for people with a weak immune system to see their healthcare providers right away if they think they have shingles.
Talk to your doctor or healthcare professional today to find out how to help protect yourself against shingles.
Learn more about adult vaccination: http://zostavax.ca/links.html