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Shingles Pain

Shingles Pain


All you need to know about Shingles Pain

Shingles pain is a rash caused by a viral infection. Although shingles can emerge anywhere on your body, it is most commonly seen as a single stripe of blisters that wraps across your chest on either the left or right side.

The varicella-zoster virus causes shingles, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. The virus remains inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain after you’ve experienced chickenpox. The virus can return as shingles years later.

Shingles aren’t life-threatening, but they may be excruciatingly painful. Shingles can be prevented using vaccines. Early therapy can help to minimise the duration of shingles and reduce the risk of complications. Postherpetic neuralgia is the most prevalent complication, which gives shingles discomfort even after the blisters have healed.

Symptoms of Shingles Pain

The symptoms of shingles pain normally only affect a small portion of one side of your body. The following are examples of signs and symptoms:

  • Pain, tingling, numbness, or burning
  • Tolerance to touch
  • A red rash that appears a few days after the pain
  • Blisters with fluid inside that split open and crust over
  • Itching

Some people also suffer from:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Fatigue

The most common symptom of shingles is pain. It can be overwhelming for some. Depending on where the pain is felt, it can be misinterpreted as a sign of heart, lung, or renal problems. Some people get shingles pain without ever getting the rash.

The shingles rash usually appears as a band of blisters that wraps across your body on either the left or right side. The shingles rash might appear around one eye, on one side of the neck, or on one side of the face.

Diagnosis of Shingles Pain

Shingles are identified by a history of pain on one side of the body, as well as the characteristic rash and blisters. A tissue scraping or culture of the blisters may be taken by your doctor for laboratory examination.

Causes of Shingles Pain

The varicella-zoster virus causes shingles pain, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles can occur in anyone who has had chickenpox. The virus penetrates your nervous system after you recover from chickenpox and remains dormant for years.

It may reactivate and spread through nerve connections to your skin, causing shingles. However, not everyone who gets chickenpox gets shingles.

The cause of shingles is unknown. However, as you become older, your immunity to illnesses may deteriorate. Shingles are more common in the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

Varicella-zoster belongs to the herpes virus family, which also contains the viruses that cause cold sores and genital herpes. As a result, shingles are sometimes called herpes zoster. However, the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles is not the same virus that causes cold sores or sexually transmitted infection genital herpes.

Is it contagious?

Anyone who isn’t resistant to chickenpox can contract the varicella-zoster virus from someone who has shingles. This is frequently caused by direct touch with the shingles rash’s exposed sores. The person will develop chickenpox rather than shingles once infected.

Some people are at risk from chickenpox. You should avoid physical contact with anyone who hasn’t had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccination until your shingles blisters scab over, especially persons with low immune systems, pregnant women, and newborns.


Shingles complications might include:

  • Postherpetic neuralgia. Shingles pain can last for weeks or months after the blisters have healed. Postherpetic neuralgia is a disorder that happens when injured nerve fibres in your skin transmit confusing and excessive pain signals to your brain.
  • Vision loss. Ophthalmic shingles (shingles in or around the eye) can cause painful eye infections and vision loss.
  • Neurological problems. Shingles can induce brain inflammation (encephalitis), facial paralysis, or hearing or balance issues, depending on which nerves are damaged.
  • Skin infections. Bacterial skin infections might develop if shingles and blisters aren’t treated properly.

When to call a doctor

If you suspect shingles, call your doctor right away, especially if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • The rash and pain appear near the eye. This illness can cause serious eye damage if left untreated.
  • You’re 60 or older because the chance of problems grows with age.
  • You or a family member has a compromised immune system (due to cancer, medications or chronic illness).
  • The rash is painful and extensive.

Treatment of Shingles Pain

Although there is no cure for shingles, timely treatment with antiviral medications can hasten to healing and reduce the risk of complications. Among these drugs are:

  • Acyclovir is an antiviral medication (Zovirax)
  • Famciclovir
  • Valacyclovir is an antiviral medication (Valtrex)

Because shingles can cause excruciating discomfort, your doctor may also prescribe:

  • Topical capsaicin patch (Qutenza)
  • Gabapentin and other anticonvulsants (Neurontin)
  • Amitriptyline and other tricyclic antidepressants
  • Numbing chemicals, such as lidocaine, are applied as a cream, gel, spray, or patch to the skin.
  • Medications containing drugs like codeine
  • Corticosteroids and local anaesthetics are used in this injection.

Shingles can persist anywhere from two to six weeks. The majority of people only get shingles once, however, it is possible to get it twice or more.

Risk Factors

Shingles can affect everyone who has ever had chickenpox. Before the introduction of the standard childhood immunisation that currently protects against chickenpox, the majority of adults in the United States had chickenpox as children.

The following factors may enhance your chances of getting shingles:

  • Being over 50. Shingles are most prevalent in persons over the age of 50. With age, the danger increases.
  • Having certain diseases. The risk of shingles is increased by diseases that impair your immune system, including HIV/AIDS and cancer.
  • Undergoing cancer treatments. Radiation and chemotherapy might weaken your immune system and cause shingles.
  • Taking certain medications. Drugs used to prevent organ rejection, as well as extended use of steroids like prednisone, can raise your risk of shingles.

Prevention of Shingles Pain

People in their 70s can get a shingles vaccine on the NHS to prevent painful skin illness.

The shingles vaccination is administered as a shot in the upper arm. Unlike the flu vaccine, this immunisation only needs to be given once and can be given at any time of the year.

Most people will only require one dose, however, certain people who are unable to receive the regular immunisation due to medical reasons will require two doses.

The shingles vaccine should lower your chances of acquiring shingles. If you do develop the condition, your symptoms will likely be less and your illness will be shorter.

Shingles can be extremely painful and inconvenient. After the rash has healed, some patients are left with agony that lasts for years. Shingles can be fatal in about 1 in 1,000 people over the age of 70.

If you’ve already had shingles, you can get the shingles vaccination. In people who have already had shingles, the shingles vaccination is quite effective, and it will improve your protection against future shingles infections. After you’ve recovered from shingles, your doctor will advise you how long you should wait before getting the shingles vaccination. This might take up to a year.

Who is eligible for the shingles vaccine?

If you’re 70 to 79 years old, you’re eligible for the shingles vaccine.

Because the shingles vaccination appears to be less successful in people over the age of 80, it is not available on the NHS.

Learn more about who is eligible for the shingles vaccine.

What is the procedure for getting the shingles vaccine?

When you become eligible for shingles vaccination, a GP or practice nurse will give it to you when you go to the doctor for a routine checkup.

If you’re concerned about missing out on the shingles vaccine, schedule an appointment with your GP.

What is the shingles vaccine’s brand name?

Currently, in the United Kingdom, two shingles vaccinations are available:

  • Zostavax is a single-dose live vaccination.
  • Shingrix is a non-live vaccination that is administered in two doses, two months apart.

The Zostavax vaccine will be widely available. If Zostavax is not suited for you, such as if you have an immune system issue, the Shingrix vaccine is recommended.