Shingles Symptoms, Timeline & Treatment
Shingles is a skin condition characterized by a painful rash with blisters. It affects nerves and the skin being served by these nerves. Shingles is viral and is caused by the chickenpox virus. The disease is also known as herpes zoster.
You can contract shingles only if you already had chickenpox in the past. This is because when you got chickenpox before, its virus stays in your nerves but lays formant until it becomes reactivated in a certain nerve.
Shingles can show up several years or decades after your initial chickenpox infection. Most people who suffered from chickenpox as a child often get shingles as they become young or middle-aged adults.
Triggers for Shingles
It is unknown why the virus that causes shingles becomes active again. However, it is more likely to occur in individuals with a weakened immune system. Unfortunately, shingles have no cure, but treatment options are available to alleviate the symptoms and make them more manageable.
If you suspect you have shingles, visiting your doctor as soon as possible is essential. Our doctors can diagnose your condition, provide guidance, and, if needed, give you a prescription to reduce the severity of your symptoms.
Shingles can cause a person to experience symptoms such as pain, itching, and burning sensations. These symptoms can last several weeks up to a month, making it a very uncomfortable experience.
Shingles can appear anywhere on the body, including the chest, stomach, face, and eyes. The most common location for shingles is the chest or stomach area.
A rash may appear before you experience several symptoms, such as:
- Feeling generally run down
- A high temperature
- Numbness or tingling in the affected area
Shingles symptoms include a rash that looks like this:
- An inflamed red rash with tingling or prickling sensations.
- Blisters filled with fluid in groups or long stripes.
- Chronic stabby pains and aches.
- One in ten people may experience postherpetic neuralgia after the rash clears up, a severe nerve pain that may persist for three months.
Shingles is generally not life-threatening; however, if it appear near the eye, it can cause serious complications. Postherpetic neuralgia, a condition of nerve pain in the affected area, can persist for months and even years in extreme cases.
Don't hesitate to contact your doctor if you have any worries or fears about possible difficulties.
The onset is variable
Although chickenpox is most common in early childhood, anyone who has not had it before can still get it, as it is highly contagious. This means that even if you had chickenpox in childhood, you could still be vulnerable to shingles several decades later.
Stage two: Reactivation
The shingles virus, or herpes zoster, can cause a painful rash. Chickenpox is transmitted by the same virus that causes this illness, which is most common in people over the age of 50. Those people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV or AIDS, are also more likely to develop shingles.
You may experience headaches, fever, fatigue, and feeling unwell when it first appears. Additionally, some people may experience tingling, burning, or numbness in the affected area.
Stage three: Rash
At this point, an itchy rash and blisters will typically appear. The affected area may be painful and itchy, but you can find some relief by wearing lightweight clothing and keeping the area clean and dry.
The blisters usually break open and form a crust for two weeks, and the rash gradually fades. Taking an antiviral medication can help to reduce the severity of your symptoms.
Stage four: Postherpetic neuralgia
In most cases, discomfort in the area lasts between one month and twelve months. In some instances, the pain can be debilitating, making it difficult to complete daily tasks, resulting in difficulty sleeping and being unable to go to work.
To sum up, shingles cannot be cured. However, treatment can be used to reduce the duration of the illness and stop potential problems from occurring. Some of the treatment options are as follows:
- Antiviral medicines reduce the pain and time of shingles.
- Long-term pain can be relieved with pain medicines, antidepressants, and topical creams.
If you think you may have shingles or your pain persists even after the rash has healed, it's important to contact your doctor immediately.
Connect with one of our doctors at Mobi Doctor with the click of a button and receive the care you require.
Prescriptions, Fit Notes & Referral Letters at the Push of a Button
Let Mobidoctor assist you in seamlessly getting professional medical advice and help that you seek.
- Book an appointment.
Instantly have a doctor-on-hand check on you, or select an appointment date and time that is convenient for you.
- Speak online to a physician.
Use our app or website to talk face-to-face and real-time to a UK General Practitioner physician.
- Start your journey to health restoration.
Get an accurate diagnosis, advice, prescriptions, referrals to specialists, and fit notes from your face-to-face consultation.