How to Protect Yourself Against Shingles – Advice from the Doctors at South Tampa Immediate Care

how-to-protect-yourself-against-shinglesShingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a very painful disease that is caused by varicella zoster, the same virus that causes chicken pox. In addition to severe long-lasting, pain – which some sufferers have compared to that associated with childbirth and kidney stones – shingles can cause a localized, blistering rash.

If you’ve ever had chicken pox, you are at risk of contracting shingles. That’s because after you recover from chicken pox, the varicella zoster virus lingers on dormantly in nerve tissue. For reasons that aren’t fully understood, the latent virus can be reactivated years later and cause shingles. The reactivation appears to be related to stress, the natural aging process, and a compromised immune system. While shingles can occur at any age, the disease is most commonly found in patients who are over the age of 60.

An outbreak of shingles is usually accompanied by:

  • A burning, itching, or tingling sensation on the back, chest, waist, eyes, or face
  • Fever
  • Vision problems
  • A general feeling of weakness
  • A blotchy, red rash that develops within 48 to 72 hours and erupts into small blisters that resemble chicken pox and tend to cluster in a specific area, such as the torso or face

The severe pain from shingles can lead to anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite, and weight loss. As such, it can interfere with many of the activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating, shopping, and traveling.

If you are over the age of 60, the best way to prevent shingles is to get vaccinated. The shingles vaccine can help your immune system protect your body against shingles and its associated pain and complications. Even if you’ve already had shingles, a vaccination can prevent a repeat occurrence. The vaccine is not recommended for people who have a weakened immune system or active, untreated tuberculosis, or who have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin or any other component of the shingles vaccine.

For additional family health tips, please browse our online series of articles. If you have questions or are suffering from shingles, feel free to contact or visit the South Tampa Immediate Care walk-in clinic.