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If you've ever had the chickenpox -- and almost all adults have -- there's a good chance the virus is still at large in your body. The shingles rash can be a distinctive cluster of fluid-filled blisters -- often in a band around one side of the waist. Small blisters that appear only on the lips or around the mouth may be cold sores, sometimes called fever blisters.
Shingles blisters usually scab over in 7-10 days and disappear completely in two to four  weeks. In some older people, the pain of shingles may linger for months or even years after the rash has healed.
If the shingles rash appears around the eye or forehead, it can cause eye infections and temporary or permanent loss of vision.
While there is no cure for shingles, antiviral medications can put the brakes on an attack.
Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-itch lotions, such as calamine, can relieve the pain and itching of the shingles rash. Colloidal or powerderized oatmeal baths are an old standby for relieving the itch of chickenpox and can help with shingles as well. Shingles is a virus which affects a nerve and the surrounding area, and is most commonly associated with the over 50a€™s.
The best treatment for shingles is provided by a GP and understanding the signs of the virus early can prevent a more severe bout and lower the risk of complications as a result. Shingles will generally affect either the left or right side of the body and in the majority of cases, the chest and abdomen. Seeking medical attention will ensure you receive the best treatment for shingles; there are methods of treatment that can be administered by a GP for both the pain and the rash.
As there is no cure for shingles, the virus has to be left to run its course; treatment can help a sufferer speed up the recovery.
In most cases, the use of over-the-counter medication such as paracetamol and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen are enough to ease the pain, more severe pain may warrant the use of a stronger painkiller such as opioids, the most common being codeine. Rare cases may call for medication such as antidepressants or anticonvulsants as the best treatment for shingles. Antiviral medication is sometimes prescribed alongside painkillers by GPa€™s to stop the virus from multiplying.
Antiviral medication is not considered the best treatment for shingles in all cases and is generally only used for patients over 50. Shingles is a fairly common virus caused by the herpes varicella-zoster virus which is reactivated after lying dormant in the sensory nervous system following a bout of chickenpox. The virus affects the nerve endings and the skin in the surrounding area causing pain and a rash. In a lot of cases (particularly in young adults and children) the symptoms of shingles are mild and the use of over-the counter medication such as paracetamol is enough to relieve any pain.
Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug which is often used as an alternative to paracetamol. When a shingles patient is suffering from a more severe form of pain, a GP may prescribe an opioid based painkiller.
Unlike other painkilling medication, antidepressants and anticonvulsants are not fast acting and the effects may not be felt for several weeks, they are both also highly addictive and it will take a considerable amount of time to wean a patient off the medication.
Shingles is a skin rash and nerve infection that is caused by the same virus as the one that causes chickenpox.
Shingles are contagious and can pass on the herpes varicella-zoster virus (the virus which causes both shingles and chickenpox) to other people. Shingles is not contagious for every person and the large majority of the population will be unable to catch anything from a person with shingles.
The chances of catching chickenpox from a person with shingles are also slim and the virus poses little risk when the rash is sufficiently covered by dressings.
The answer to a€?how long are shingles contagious?a€? will ultimately depend on how long a person is affected by the virus. A common bout of shingles will last anywhere from 2-5 weeks starting with fever like symptoms, headaches and tenderness, tingling and burning sensations in the affected area.

The quicker you are able to get the correct treatment for the shingles virus, the better chance you will have of making a quicker recovery.
The answer to a€?how long are shingles contagious?a€? can be cut down to less than two weeks if the correct treatment is sought early enough.
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The first time someone is exposed to the virus, it causes the widespread, itchy sores known as chickenpox. If you have shingles symptoms, see your health care provider even if you think you've never had chickenpox. In most healthy people, the blisters leave no scars, and the pain and itching go away after a few weeks or months.
So keep a shingles rash covered and avoid contact with infants, as well as pregnant women who have never had chickenpox or the varicella vaccine.
This pain, due to damaged nerves in and beneath the skin, is known as postherpetic neuralgia. Prompt treatment can make a case of shingles shorter and milder, while cutting in half the risk of developing postherpetic neuralgia. If the pain is severe or the rash is concentrated near an eye or ear, consult your doctor right away. To speed up the drying out of the blisters, try placing a cool, damp washcloth on the rash (but not when wearing calamine lotion or other creams.) If your doctor gives you the green light, stay active while recovering from shingles.
In a large trial, this vaccine cut the risk of developing shingles in half and reduced the risk of postherpetic neuralgia by 67%.
The first signs of shingles in children are often determined upon the appearance of a rash with no pain or feeling of unwell beforehand. The early symptoms of the virus will be a tingling or burning sensation and feeling of numbness in the affected area, this may be combined with stabbing pains.
The most common form of treatment is painkilling medication; the strength of the painkiller given will depend on the level of pain being felt by the sufferer. Antidepressants can be provided in a low dose (compared to what is prescribed for depression) to help patients with severe and prolonged pain.
The use of antiviral medication can be beneficial in reducing the severity of shingles and shortening the virusa€™s timespan. The use of this medication in pregnant women is only an option if the benefits significantly outweigh the risks and children rarely have symptoms serious enough the warrant the use. Shingles is most common in the over 50a€™s but can affect people of any age and is commonly sparked by a weakening of the immune system which can be due to many reasons such as poor nutrition, stress and other medication causing immune system suppression.
There is no cure for shingles although doctors can prescribe a range of medication to help treat the symptoms of the virus; however, the medication needed is often strong and there are generally side effects with shingles treatment medication. Side effects of shingles treatment of this kind are rare unless taken in excess of the recommended dose when drowsiness and low blood pressure may arise.
Ibuprofen is also a good drug for the treatment of mild to moderate pain but does present a number of side effects which mean it is only to be taken in low doses. In the majority of cases the opioid prescribed will be codeine although morphine is also used in certain cases. Both antidepressants and anticonvulsants can ease pain by controlling nerve activity in the brain which can dampen down the nerves senses. The shingles virus affects around 250,000 people each year in the UK with two thirds of those cases found in people over the age of 50. The answer surrounding a€?how long are shingles contagious?a€? is made up of different factors. The shingles condition itself is not contagious and it is not possible for one person to catch shingles from another person.
As long as blisters continue to form, shingles will remain contagious to other people, once the rash has started to crust and scab over it will no longer be contagious.
Seeking medical advice for the virus at the first sign of the rash will mean that a GP can prescribe antiviral drugs. Itchy blisters that appear after hiking, gardening, or spending time outdoors could be a reaction to poison ivy, oak, or sumac.

Many childhood cases of chickenpox are mild enough to go unnoticed, but the virus can still linger and reactivate. But people with weakened immune systems may develop shingles blisters that do not heal in a timely manner. The vaccine won't treat a current outbreak of shingles, but it can prevent future attacks if you have already had shingles.
Shingles develops as a result of the chickenpox virus herpes varicella-zoster (VZV) which lays dormant in the sensory nervous system after a bout of the virus; it is the reactivation of VZV which leads to shingles.
A feeling of tiredness, muscle pain and a high temperature may also present for several days before a rash appears. Anticonvulsants are generally used to control seizures in epilepsy but can be used in shingles to help stabilise the nervous system and ease pain. The side effects differ depending on the drug used with some being more serious than others; medication used will usually depend on how severe the pain being suffered by a shingles sufferer is. People at risk from shingles sufferers are those that have not been previously exposed to chickenpox, and it is possible to catch chickenpox at any age from shingles, providing you do not already have the herpes varicella zoster virus in your system.
When taken in the first 72 hours of the rash appearing they can help to reduce the overall severity of the condition and stop the virus from multiplying, this will help to speed up the recovery process dramatically.
Instead, it settles in nerve cells and may reactivate years later, causing shingles.  It's also called herpes zoster, but it's not related to the virus that causes genital herpes. In severe cases, the pain or itching may be bad enough to cause insomnia, weight loss, or depression. These complications can usually be prevented by beginning treatment for shingles as soon as possible. Pain sometimes persists after the rash has gone, more commonly in people over the age of 50. A slight weakening of the immune system in older people may account for the virus reactivating and multiplying to cause shingles.) Shingles is also more common in people with a poor immune system (immunosuppression). The rash looks like chickenpox, but only appears on the band of skin supplied by the affected nerve. The soft tissues under and around the rash may become swollen for a while due to swelling (inflammation) caused by the virus. In this person, it has affected a nerve and the skin that the nerve supplies, on the left side of the abdomen. In severe cases it can lead to inflammation of the whole of the eye which may cause loss of vision. People with a poor immune system (immunosuppression) who develop shingles have a higher than normal risk of developing rare or serious complications. Pain may be eased by cooling the affected area with ice cubes (wrapped in a plastic bag), wet dressings, or a cool bath. A non-adherent dressing that covers the rash when it is blistered and raw may help to reduce pain caused by contact with clothing. An antiviral medicine does not kill the virus but works by stopping the virus from multiplying. It had also been hoped that antiviral medicines would reduce the risk of pain persisting into PHN. However, the research so far has shown that the current antiviral medicines taken during an episode of shingles do not seem to have much impact on the prevention of PHN.
Further research is needed in this area to determine if certain groups of patients do benefit and if newer antiviral drugs can prevent PHN. For example, young adults and children who develop shingles on their tummy (abdomen) very often have mild symptoms and have a low risk of developing PHN. In addition to easing pain during an episode of shingles, they may also help to prevent PHN.
You will normally be given antiviral medication whatever your age, and will be monitored for complications.

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