Shingles is a rash that occurs on one side of the body and is caused by the reactivation of dormant varicella-zoster virus. The virus causes chickenpox, which can then remain inactive in nerve cells spread across the body, with symptoms gradually becoming more severe over time. This condition can cause serious health problems if left untreated, so it’s important to know if you’re at risk of getting shingles. Here are some signs and symptoms to watch out for.
Signs and Symptoms of Shingles
The most common symptom of shingles is a painless rash that is usually on one side of the face or body. This rash can be red, but it may also be bluish or greenish. The rash will often go across one of the two sides of the body from the chest to the groin or from back to front. If you notice a painless rash on your skin and it’s only on one side, you should see a doctor because this could be shingles. Other symptoms include fever and flu-like symptoms, fatigue, headache, abdominal pain, dizziness, red eyes and sensitivity to light. You should also watch for any changes in vision like blurring or double vision.
If you’re not at risk of getting shingles, there are ways to prevent the disease. The following prevention tips can help ward off the virus and its symptoms.
1) Get vaccinated: It’s important to be vaccinated against varicella-zoster, as it provides life-long protection from the virus. Furthermore, if you’re planning on being around someone who has shingles or chickenpox, get vaccinated for that as well.
2) Keep exposed skin covered: Keeping your exposure area covered can help keep the shingles rash from spreading to other areas of the body.
What Causes Shingles?
The varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox, can remain dormant in nerve cells over a period of time. The virus reactivates and causes shingles or symptoms of chickenpox to appear on one side of the body.
Shingles is most likely to occur when you’re 40 years old or older. If you’re 60 years old or older, there’s a greater chance that your risk for getting shingles will be higher than your risk for getting the flu.
Test for shingles.
There’s no way to know if you have shingles until you get a test. Test for shingles by having your doctor check your blood. If it comes up positive, this indicates that the virus is present and can be treated with antiviral medication.
You should also be tested if you’re at a higher risk of developing shingles, including if:
– You live or work with someone who has been recently diagnosed with shingles
– You have certain genetic factors
– You take medications that can worsen the infection
– You have suffered from chickenpox