What is 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 may live in your nervous system for years before reactivating as shingles. Shingles can also be referred to as herpes zoster.
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is an infection of a nerve and the skin around it.
The main symptom of shingles is pain, followed by a rash that develops into itchy blisters, similar in appearance to chickenpox. New blisters may appear for up to a week, but a few days after appearing they become yellowish in color, flatten and dry out.
Is Shingles contagious?
Yes, shingles is contagious. You can get chickenpox from someone with shingles if you have not had chickenpox before or have not been vaccinated
The blisters that form contain live virus. If a person who has never had chickenpox makes direct contact with an open blister or something with the fluid on it, they can contract the virus and develop chickenpox.You are contagious until all of the sores have crusted over.
Most cases of shingles can be diagnosed with a physical examination of rashes and blisters. Your doctor will also ask questions about your medical history.
In rare instances, your doctor may need to test a sample of your skin or the fluid from your blisters. This involves using a sterile swab to collect a sample of tissue or fluid. Samples are then sent to a medical laboratory to confirm the presence of the virus.Your doctor can prescribe medicine to help speed up your recovery and avoid longer-lasting problems.
Several antiviral medicines—acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir—are available to treat shingles and shorten the length and severity of illness. People with shingles should start taking these medicines as soon as possible after the rash appears to be the most effective. People who have, or think they might have, shingles should call their healthcare provider as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.
Analgesics (pain medicine) may help relieve the pain caused by shingles. Wet compresses, calamine lotion, and colloidal oatmeal baths may help relieve some of the itching.
The only way to reduce the risk of developing shingles and the long-term pain from post herpetic neuralgia (PHN) is to get vaccinated.
CDC recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older get two doses of the shingles vaccine called Shingrixto protect against shingles and the complications caused by the disease. Shingrix is consider 90% effective. Talk with your healthcare professional if you have questions about shingles vaccination.