Shingles is a painful viral infection. When a person has shingles, they have a rash, usually down one side of the body on the torso. Some people do experience the rash in different places of the body. The same virus responsible for the chickenpox, is what causes the infection. When a person is exposed to the chickenpox virus, it becomes inactive and settles down in the nerve tissue of your spinal cord and brain.
Fortunately, shingles are not life-threatening. It can be very painful though and for people who suffer from it, it can be hard for them to do anything but think about it. There is a vaccine available that can help to reduce the risk of shingles forming. It is important that anyone suffering from the shingles gets early treatment to help lessen any chance for complications. One of the most common complications of shingles is that the pain stays even though the rash is gone.
What it Feels Like to Get Shingles
There are several signs and symptoms of the shingles. These include:
- Numbness and tingling
- Burning sensation
- Red rash
- Sensitivity to touch
- Sensitivity to light
- Fluid-filled blisters
When shingles first starts out, a sufferer will notice the pain first. The pain can become very intense. As the pain continues, a rash will usually appear. Some people experience shingles pain without the rash. When the rash appears, it usually presents as a string of blisters that wrap around the area. This is typically found on the torso, but can happen in other locations. In some cases, the shingles can appear around one side of the neck or face, or near the eye. Shingles sufferers often experience intense pain that is not easily alleviated. This may affect their day to day routine, and they may need the help of their family members during the shingles infection.
Seeing a Doctor
When a person suspects that they have shingles, they need to see their doctor as soon as possible. If treated early, some of the symptoms may be alleviated, and the complication factor may be minimized. If the pain and rash are near the eye, the doctor should be seen immediately. Left untreated, shingles around the eye can lead to permanent eye damage. If the person with the shingles is over age 60 or they have a weakened immune system, they will need to see their doctor to help to minimize the risk of complications. The weaker the immune system is, the more complications may happen. When a person with suspected shingles goes to the doctor, the rash is looked at to see if it has blisters and looks like the shingles. In some cases, the doctor may do a tissue scraping or culture to ensure that it is the shingles and not something else.
How to Treat Shingles
Unfortunately, there is no cure for shingles. However, with treatment from medications and pain relief, it can be managed. For those who are suffering from severe pain, the doctor may prescribe a pain patch, numbing agents, or other medical pain relief options. This will all depend on how much pain the person is in and whether or not they are suffering from complications. There are several natural remedies that patients may choose to use to help alleviate the pain of the shingles, but they will need to check with their doctor to ensure that it is alright to use on the rash. Some things may make the pain and rash worse, so it is important to speak with the doctor before trying anything to help with shingles. Shingles will last from one week to six weeks. Some people will suffer from shingles much longer. Typically, a shingles infection will only attack a person once, but it has been seen to attack people more than once during their lifetime.