What is shingles and how do you get shingles disease

What is shingles and how do you get shingles disease

What is shingles

Shingles is an infection of a nerve and the area of skin supplied by the nerve. It is caused by a virus called the varicella-zoster virus. It is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who has had chickenpox in the past may develop shingles. Shingles is sometimes called herpes zoster.
What is shingles and how do you get shingles disease
Shingles is sometimes called herpes zoster

About 1 in 5 people have shingles at some time in their life. It can occur at any age, but it is most common in people over the age of 50. It is uncommon to have shingles more than once, but about 1 person in 50 has shingles two or more times in their life.

Shingles outbreaks are almost always on just one side of the body. Within a few days, a rash appears on the skin area related to the inflamed nerve. Small blisters form and fill with fluid. Later they break open and develop crusty scabs.

If the blisters are scratched, someone with shingles might develop a skin infection. This could require treatment with antibiotics and might cause scars.

Cause of Shingles

Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, which is the virus that causes chickenpox (a highly infectious condition that most people have during childhood).
After you have had chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus lies dormant (inactive) inside your body. It can later be reactivated and cause shingles.
It is not known exactly how the virus is reactivated, but it may be linked to having lowered immunity (protection against infection and diseases).
Your immunity to illness and infection can become lowered if there is a problem with your immune system (the body’s natural defence system). This can happen as a result of:
Being older. As you age, your immunity may decrease. Shingles most commonly occurs in people over 80 years old.
Physical and emotional stress. The chemicals released by your body when you are stressed can prevent your immune system from working properly.
Having HIV and AIDS. People with HIV may be up to 25 times more likely to get shingles than the rest of the population.
Recently having a bone marrow transplant (bone marrow is the spongy material in the centre of some bones). The conditioning you receive before the transplant will weaken your immune system.
Recently having an organ transplant. You may need to take medication to suppress your immune system so your body accepts the donated organ. After a transplant, 25-45% of people may develop shingles.
It is not possible to catch shingles from someone else with the condition. However, it is possible for someone who has never had chickenpox to catch chickenpox from someone with shingles. In the UK, chickenpox is so common during childhood that 9 out of 10 adults have had it, so will not be affected.
Catching chickenpox
The blisters (vesicles) that develop as a result of shingles contain virus particles. The virus can be spread through direct contact with the open blisters. If you have not had chickenpox before, you can catch it from direct contact with:
the fluid from the blisters of someone who has shingles
something that has the fluid on it, such as bed sheets or a towel
If you have shingles, you are contagious until the last blister has scabbed over. This will usually occur five to seven days after your symptoms started.

How do you get shingles disease

How do you get rid of shingles

The average shingles outbreak can last several weeks and vary in intensity from one person to the next. Some medicines can reduce the intensity if taken early and can help prevent more misery down the road.
Here are some options:

Antiviral drugs such as acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir) and valacyclovir (Valtrex) help relieve the pain and inflammation and shorten the outbreak's duration if you start them within 48 to 72 hours of when the rash begins. But most importantly, when taken early enough, these drugs can also help prevent postherpetic neuralgia, a troublesome condition in which the pain persists for months to years after the rash has subsided.
Before the antiviral drugs were available, high doses of ibuprofen were—and still can be—helpful in reducing the pain's intensity. Consult your health-care provider before treating yourself. High doses can be dangerous, even life-threatening. Make sure your doctor knows if you have kidney impairment, congestive heart failure or bleeding problems.
In severe cases, a steroid may provide some relief.
Over-the-counter topical products like creams are of little use for this frustrating condition.

Tips for you get rid of shingles disease

These are just tips to inform and help those who don't have health insurance or need a quick fix for a low sum.

- Try not to stress out. If stress is what triggered the shingles having less stress is what will get you through the shingles. Get as much rest as you can and avoid laying down on the infected area if you can.
- Change/wash your clothing daily. It's a bad idea to wear the same clothing over an area that is infected. This could cause the infection to spread to other areas as well as further infect the main area.

- Keep the area clean. This is pretty key point. Avoid rubbing or scratching the infected area. Wash the area daily to keep it clean.

- Ice packs. These are a life saver if you are going through sharp pains. The coldness helps soothe the pains. Apply an ice pack to the area, covered with a towel or cloth and keep on for 20 minutes max. After use, take off the pack for 20 minutes and then you can repeat use again using the same intervals

- Take Tylenol or Ibuprofen or Aspirin; a type of over the counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen. Note that aspirin does not help with the inflammation, but does with the pain, and Ibuprofen DOES help with inflammation as well as pain.

- Try to cover the area with skin safe gauze. This will not only keep the area free of dirt but will reduce rubbing on clothing.

- And last but not least, refrain from doing any physical activity. This is very important. Engaging in any physical activity has many risks that could cause shingles to spread or have a relapse. It will be beneficial if you have someone else to help take care of you and do tasks for you for a while until you feel you are fully healed.