The Rash That Can Strike at Any Age

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection that affects the nerve cells and skin. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person has had chickenpox, the virus remains inactive in the body and can reactivate years later, causing shingles. The condition affects people of all ages, but it is most common in people over 50 years old and those with weakened immune systems. 


Shingles symptoms include a painful rash that develops on one side of the body, often on the torso, face, or neck. The rash begins as fluid-filled blisters that eventually burst and form a crust. The blisters can be accompanied by itching, tingling, and burning sensations. Other symptoms of shingles include headache, fever, fatigue, and muscle aches. 


The severity of shingles can vary from person to person. Some people may only experience a mild case with a few blisters, while others may have a more severe case with a large number of blisters that cover a larger area of the skin. In some cases, shingles can also cause a type of nerve pain called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which can persist long after the rash has gone away.This condition can persist long after the rash has disappeared and can be quite debilitating. 


The exact cause of shingles is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to a weakened immune system. People over the age of 50, people with weakened immune systems, and those who are under a lot of stress are at higher risk of developing shingles 


There is no cure for shingles, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting the virus and managing symptoms if you do get it. Here are some tips to help prevent shingles:


1. Get vaccinated: The shingles vaccine is a great way to reduce your risk of getting the virus. It is recommended for people over 50 years old and for those with weakened immune systems. 


2. Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and managing stress can all help boost your immune system, reducing your risk of getting shingles. 


3. Avoid close contact with people who have shingles: If you have not had chickenpox, avoid close contact with people who have shingles to reduce your risk of getting infected. 


If you do get shingles, there are steps you can take to manage your symptoms and speed up your recovery. Here are some tips for managing shingles at home: 


1. Apply a cool compress: Placing a cool compress on the affected area can help relieve pain and itching. 


2. Keep the affected area clean and dry: Clean the affected area with mild soap and water, and avoid scratching or picking at the blisters to prevent secondary infections. 


3. Manage pain: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as paracetamol can help relieve pain. If your pain is severe, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medication. 


4. Get plenty of rest: Rest is important for your body to heal, so make sure to get plenty of sleep and avoid strenuous activities. 


While there is no cure for shingles, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting the virus and manage your symptoms. If you suspect you have shingles, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible to get the proper treatment and care. 

About The Author

Dr. Coco is a highly-educated and well-qualified primary care physician who graduated from the University of the Philippines Baguio with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center. She completed her three-year residency training in Family Medicine at Brokenshire Medical Center. She passed her diplomate exams in Family Medicine, given by the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians in 2018. 


Dr. Coco is dedicated to providing comprehensive and holistic care for her patients. She is a primary care physician who believes in delivering continuing comprehensive health care for all. To her, patients are not just a number as she takes time to analyse how she can improve their overall health every chance they can get. 

Experience EVA Teleconsult