The Causes, Symptoms, And Treatments For Shingles

Shingles is a condition that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This is the same virus that is responsible for chickenpox. As a result, anyone who has ever experienced chickenpox will have the virus contained in his or her body.

In many cases, the varicella-zoster virus can remain dormant and never cause any symptoms. But the virus can also re-emerge after spending decades residing in the tissues that are adjacent to the spinal cord and brain. If this virus does resurface, then it advances through the nerve fibers of the skin. The result is an uncomfortable rash which is referred to as shingles.

If this unwanted development occurs with you, or possibly with somebody in your family, this infection is not life-threatening. However, it will certainly create discomfort. The shingles rash will contain a small collection of blisters. These are usually located in a band on one side of the waist area. But it is possible for shingles blisters to develop anywhere on your body.

Symptoms Of Shingles

The initial symptoms of shingles can emerge anywhere from 1-5 days before you observe a rash. These early indications of shingles can include burning, tingling, itching, or pain in the area where the rash itself will soon become apparent. It is also possible that a headache, chills, fever, and an upset stomach can emerge prior to any rash.

Once a noticeable rash has developed, the shingles can be sensitive to your touch. The red rash can also cause further pain, itching, numbness, tingling, and burning in the area of the skin that has been impacted. Blisters can break open, while patients can also contend with fever, headaches, fatigue, and sensitivity to light after the rash has emerged.

Increased Risk Of Shingles

The varicella-zoster virus itself can be transmitted to another individual who is not immune to chickenpox. This would need to transpire through direct contact with the shingles rash. If that does take place, the person who came in direct contact with the virus will develop chickenpox instead of shingles.

Otherwise, anyone who has experienced chickenpox is also a candidate to eventually develop shingles. However, there are other risk factors that exist. Certain diseases that negatively impact your immune system such as HIV aids and cancer can also create increased risk. The long-term use of certain steroids can also increase the possibility of shingles.

The aging process can also place anyone at increased risk, as the majority of shingles patients are age 50 or older. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has underscored this fact by stating that one out of every three people in the U.S. that are age 50 or older will develop shingles in their lifetime. It is also been estimated that approximately half of the individuals who are age 80 or older will also develop shingles at some point.

Prevention Of Shingles

Since the risk of encountering shingles escalates throughout the aging process, the shingles vaccination is recommended for any healthy adults who are age 50 or older. Shingrix and Zostavax are the two vaccines that have been licensed and recommended as sources of prevention against shingles by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) .

However, the ACIP prefers the use of the Shingrix vaccine because It provides a safeguard against both shingles and posterpetic neuralgia (PHN). PHN is an additional condition that affects 10 to 18% of patients who experience shingles, and the risk of PHN expands with age. PHN causes pain that can linger three months or longer after a shingles rash has dissipated.

Zostavax is the second vaccine that has been licensed, and it can be used as a tool of prevention for healthy adults aged 60 and beyond. It is also an alternative for anyone who is allergic to Shingrix. Zostavax can also be used whenever an immediate vaccination is needed and Shingrix is not available.

The CDC has stated that Shingrix was 97% effective in preventing shingles with adults aged 50 to 69 who received two doses. Shingrix has also been effective in 91% of the cases that involved adults who were 70 years and older.

When To Visit A Doctor

Once you observe the first indication of shingles you should see a doctor. The timing of your visit is important because any medications that combat shingles will also decrease your chances of experiencing PHN – provided that you begin treatment within 72 hours. 

There are multiple antiviral medicines that can be used to treat shingles – acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir. Anyone who is contending with shingles should begin taking one of these medicines in order to reduce the effects of this condition.

At Rapid Med Urgent Care Center We Can Help 

If you have any concerns or questions about shingles, or if you have questions about a health issue of any kind, do not hesitate to contact us at Rapid Med Urgent Care Center. We also offer immediate medical attention for urgent care needs that are not critical or life-threatening. At Rapid Med Urgent Care Center we also provide both primary and preventive care for you and your family.

Our Primary Care 

Our intuitive approach and commitment to patients continue to ensure that they will receive the specific type of care that they prefer, regardless of when and how they want it. This include:

  • After Hours Care
  • Continuity of Care
  • Health Maintenance
  • Patient Education
  • Vaccinations

Our Preventative Care 

  • Alcohol Misuse Screening & Counseling
  • Atherosclerosis Risk Factor Modification
  • Blood Pressure Screening
  • Cancer Screening
  • Cholesterol Screening
  • Depression Screening
  • HIV-STD Screening
  • Immunizations
  • Obesity Screening & Counseling
  • Type 2 Diabetes Screening
  • Weight Management
  • Wellness Exams

Our Urgent Care

Of course, At Rapid Med Urgent Care Center we also provide immediate medical attention for conditions that are not critical or life-threatening.

Regardless of whether you are in need of primary care, preventative care or urgent care, you can receive the same great care and consideration that you receive by visiting our offices simply by using our On Demand service through your phone, tablet, or computer.

Regardless of how you contact us, we can also assist you, or answer any questions regarding any of these other medical problems.

Phil Clark
Phil’s experience as a writer enabled him to generate advertising and marketing material throughout his career in the television industry before he expanded his level of knowledge by creating various promotional elements for all forms of media in other industries. He has also produced articles that have been published in numerous publications and websites, including usatoday.com, and USA Today’s football magazine, where he wrote weekly columns and player profiles for multiple years. He has also worked with Photoshop, Illustrator, and Vizio, and has a BS in Broadcasting from Indiana State University.
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