Treat Shingles

Edited by Lor777, Charmed, Rose B, Lynn and 3 others


Shingles is a blistering rash that usually occurs on one side of the body (most often on the torso) and is accompanied by sharp nerve pain. It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Once you've had chickenpox, the virus takes up residence in a bundle of sensory nerve cells connected to the spinal cord. For most people, the virus remains dormant. However, in some cases, the virus is reactivated and travels down the nerve, infecting the surrounding skin with the rash.

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No one knows for sure what reactivates the virus, but stress, trauma, some illnesses, and a compromised immune system can be trigger. Most people recover from shingles within one month with no complications. However, for some, pain may persist for months after the blisters have healed. Shingles is most likely to affect older adults. Once the initial episode of shingles is over, the infection seldom recurs. If you have shingles, it is possible to pass chickenpox on to someone who has never had the disease, although the virus is not often spread this way.

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Shingles Virus

The virus that causes shingles is Varicella zoster virus (VZV). It is the same virus that causes chickenpox in children and adults. This virus stays in the nervous system even after the chickenpox is relieved. People who had chickenpox are at risk of getting shingles when they get older. The virus can be reactivated if the person has a weak immune system due to illnesses or stress. Once you have shingles, you may also transmit the virus to other people who did not have chickenpox. It should be noted that the Varicella zoster virus (VZV) is the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles, but not the same as the herpes virus in genital herpes or mouth sores.

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Symptoms that Precede and Active Outbreak of Shingles

  • Chills.
  • Fever.
  • Malaise (feeling lousy).
  • Upset stomach.
  • Pain and itching along the site of the future eruption.

The Characteristic Symptoms Appear after Four or Five Days

  • Pain (which can be severe) or a tingling sensation that travels down the nerve pathway along one side of the torso.
  • Itching (which may be intense).
  • A rash of small, fluid-filled blisters, frequently occurring on one sided of the body.

How to Treat Shingles

  1. 1
    Take analgesics.
    Sometimes you can take are aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen, for pain relief. If these are not sufficient, your doctor can prescribe a stronger pain reliever.
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  2. 2
    Wear soft cotton clothing over the affected skin.
    Clothing may stick to the skin as the blisters ooze.
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  3. 3
    Avoid tight clothing.
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  4. 4
    For temporary relief, apply cool compresses.
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  5. 5
    Wash the affected area gently with mild, unscented soap.
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  6. 6
    Your doctor can prescribe the drug Acyclovir (Zovirax).
    It is often prescribed to accelerate healing and reduce pain after the sores heal.
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Healed Shingles

Shingles can last for about a week to two weeks, depending on how quickly the body is able to regain its strength. Healthy people can be totally healed, as the pain and the blisters can be treated, and they will often leave no pain or scars once they are gone. But there are some people who, even after the blisters are gone, will still have pain for months. And for some, even the shingles blisters do not heal right away. Shingles pain is not life-threatening, but could cause sleepless nights, weight loss, irritability and depression. The pain can be relieved through over-the-counter or prescribed pain relievers. Aside from shingles pain, the patient can also experience the shingles itch even after the shingles is healed. The itching, just like the pain, may cause insomnia, weight loss, irritability and depression, but the itch is harder to relieve than the pain. It is advised that the skin should not be scratched because this may cause severe injury to the skin.

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Lymph Nodes

Lymph nodes usually swell or can be felt near the affected areas of your skin. As part of an examination, doctors will examine lymph nodes to detect if there is any enlargement, and to prevent the spreading of the virus at the early stage. Lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system, through which the lymph flows. It is a colorless fluid that bathes the cells of the body and it drains proteins and waste materials from the blood circulation. Usually the lymph nodes are small oval lumps. Mostly, these can be felt on certain areas of the body, like on the head or neck, armpit or axilla, groin or inguinal area and at the back of the knee. If you have had infections before, it is best to check the lymph nodes once a month. Checking them more often may result in difficulty noticing any change. Sometimes, lymph nodes are painless, but could be painful and tender once they becoming enlarged. If you can feel your lymph nodes, you don't need to panic. They only enlarge due to an infection. However, if the lymph nodes have not shrunk back to normal size in a week, you must call your doctor and make an appointment for a checkup.

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For early detection, you can check lymph nodes at home. You can check the lymph nodes on your neck, with your fingertips, by pressing your fingers under the muscle and gently massaging in a circular motion. Check and feel for a small oval lump about the size of a pea. While doing so, make sure that you tilt your head towards the side you are examining. This helps to relax the muscle and easier to feel the lumps. If you have an infection or illness, it will feel larger than a pea.

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You Should Call you Doctor if the Following Occur

  • You suspect shingles.
  • You suspect shingles and have a compromised immune system (due to chemotherapy, HIV infections, etc.).
  • Singles on face, and eye pain develops.
  • After two weeks, shingles gets worse.

You Should Call your Doctor NOW if the Following Occur

  • Red streaks leading away from the area or redness around the area.
  • Swelling
  • Warmth and tenderness.
  • Pus
  • Fever
  • Tender or swollen lymph nodes.

Teenagers with shingles

It is not common for teenagers to have shingles. Shingles is commonly found on older people. But rare as it is, there are still instances when we find teenagers with shingles. Teenagers who had chickenpox before can develop shingles because shingles is caused by chickenpox or the zoster virus. Once you had chickenpox, it will stay on your body and once you are stressed or you have a weak immune system, this virus may be reactivated and affects the nerves causing severe pain and breakout. So it is best to maintain a healthy immune system to prevent teens from having shingles.

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  1. 1
    Once you suspect someone to have shingles, you have to bring him or her to the doctor.
    The doctor will advice him to take in some anti viral medicines.
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  2. 2
    Let him or her take enough rest.
    Shingles is painful so the person can take paracetamol to ease the pain.
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  3. 3
    It is contagious so avoid contact with other people who did not have chickenpox yet.
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  4. 4
    You may use calamine lotion to ease the pain and to hasten the drying up of the blisters.
    It is also best to keep the blisters unprotected so that they may dry op easily.
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  5. 5
    Do not try to prick those blisters so that they will not be infected.
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  6. 6
    If treated immediately, one can be relieved of the pain and inflammation in about a week but total recovery may last for quite some time.
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  7. 7
    Pain may be felt even after those blisters are healed.
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  8. 8
    The doctor should conduct tests to help the patients immune system.
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Tips Tricks & Warnings

  • A vaccine against chickenpox is available. It's called Varivax (or VZV vaccination).
  • The blisters from shingles, begin to dry and scab in about five days.
  • NEVER give aspirin to children or teenagers. It can cause Reye's syndrome, a rare by fatal condition.
  • Shingles is contagious only to those who have never had chickenpox. They don't, however, develop shingles; instead they get chickenpox.


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Article Info

Categories : Skin Care & Diseases

Recent edits by: Rebecca M., cheryl laolao, Lynn

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