“Do you know anyone who has had shingles?“
It can be an awful condition which is caused by a reactivation of the chickenpox virus. It causes a painful blistering rash. In older patients, the pain can linger for months to years after the rash is gone.
Shingles can cause debilitating pain and is associated with an increased risk of stroke for up to 6 months after infection.
What are the symptoms of shingles?
Shingles symptoms include:
- Localized rash (like insect bites) on one side of the body
- A burning sensation on one side of the body.
- Headache – localised
- Discomfort when looking at bright lights.
Symptoms can occur for several days before the rash appears. The rash can last about 10 to 15 days. It often makes a stripe or belt-like pattern on one side of the face or body. The rash forms small blisters, which fill with liquid and burst before the skin crusts over and heals.
Sometimes the rash can become infected.
Who is at risk from shingles?
Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk of getting shingles later in life. About one in three people who have not been immunised against chickenpox or shingles will get shingles in their lifetime.
Shingles usually affects older people. The older you are if you get shingles, the higher your risk of getting serious disease. People who have a weakened immune system are also at risk of getting more severe disease, even if they are young.
How is shingles treated?
If shingles is diagnosed early enough (within three days of the rash appearing), it can be treated with antiviral medication.
How is shingles prevented?
At Denmark Medical Centre the Zostavax vaccine is available for patients 70 -79 years old. Zostavax became free for 70 – 79 year old patients in 2016 but although the initial uptake rates were positive it has significantly dropped off since then.
If you (or your relatives or friends) haven’t received the Zostavax and are in this age group please book in with one of our doctors to see if you are a suitable candidate to have the vaccine.
You only need to have it once! The vaccine, that is!