Shingles or herpes zoster is an infection that develops due to the reactivation of the same virus responsible for chickenpox. The condition is characterized by a painful rash.
Can shingles spread to others?
Shingles could not spread to others. Nevertheless, they can acquire chickenpox if had not been infected before or given the chickenpox vaccine. The varicella-zoster virus thrives in the blisters from shingles. It can spread until the blisters are fully healed.
If an individual has blisters that have not crusted over, it is recommended to stay away from those who never had chickenpox, infants younger than 12 months old, pregnant women and very sick individuals. If living in a house with children who have not had chickenpox, a doctor should be consulted since they might require vaccination.
Indications of shingles
Shingles causes a painful, blistering rash. Oftentimes, the pain begins in a few days before the rash manifests. It can occur along with nausea, fever, chills, diarrhea and difficulty urinating.
The rash starts out as reddened bumps. In a few days, these bumps turn into blisters filled with fluid. There is also a burning or stinging pain and the rash can be itchy. It typically occurs on the trunk as bands of blisters around the chest and back.
In a week, the blisters usually crust over and fall off. There are changes in the skin color once the scabs fall off. In severe cases, these changes are permanent. Even though the rash settles or subsides in a few weeks, the pain might last longer.
Shingles is often managed using antiviral medications to minimize its severity and duration of the symptoms. The doctor will decide on the right medication to provide to the individual. These medications work better if used in the initial 3 days after the rash erupted. Additionally, the doctor might also recommend a steroid medication to minimize the swelling and pain.
When dealing with the pain, the doctor will provide an over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. The application of a medicated anti-itch lotion on the blisters can minimize the itchiness and pain. A cool compress soaked in water mixed with white vinegar can also reduce the itchiness and pain.