A viral infection that creates a very uncomfortable and rather painful rash in many areas of the body, shingles can be a condition that is really hard to deal with. Known to be created or caused from the same kind of virus as chickenpox, people will usually be affected by this version of the varicella-zoster virus later on in life as it still lies dormant in their body. The condition is most predominant in the upper half of the body and creates large, crusty red rashes. It can usually be avoided if you have already gotten the varicella vaccine.
However, the pain is quite substantial when one does experience the rash, more so when they are really old and their body cannot withstand all complications that could arise because of it. The possibility of getting shingles is also higher once the person has reached the age of 50 or more. The chance of being affected by it grows even larger if you are already weakened by another condition or sickness or as a side effect from certain medicine debilitating you, the most common being cancer and chemotherapy although it really does not matter what sickness it is that is bringing your immune system down, the virus will grow exponentially as soon as it sees an opportunity.
Vaccines and medicines usually fight the rash fairly well, diminishing most of the problems such as the rash getting worse or spreading. Nonetheless, staying watchful over your body and any early on signs of the rash are always a smart move as even the vaccine itself cannot fully protect you from getting it. The symptoms of shingles are as follows so you can contact your doctor as soon as possible:
- Constant itching
- A large, red rash that only seems to be getting worse, normally seen after a couple days of soreness or ache
- Blisters in the rash that burst and crust
- Numbing and burning of the skin
Those are the symptoms usually felt by the majority of people affected by shingles. Some may vary such as the headaches and fever but for the most part it will be the same for anyone going through this fight. The condition also almost always begins in the area of the torso and lower stomach, sometimes leading many to be confused about the origin of the pain, never once thinking it could be shingles but something much more serious and deadly.
The rash is most worrisome if it affects the face first, especially if near an eye since it could cause considerable damage. You should also be concerned if you are well into old age or have a bad immune system. Now that we have discussed the symptoms we have to focus on how to treat it and prevent it. Shingles can bring about many complications, even more so if we are battling any other disease at the time of its arrival. The ways to go about dealing with it are mostly medications, creams, pain-killers and prescribed treatments that the doctor provides but there are certain things you can try out at home. Among these we have:
- Don't let the shingles affect you much: Although the substantial pain and inflammation they bring with them is enough to make anyone want to peel them right off, it is never healthy to pick at the rash or any formations made by it. If anything, you have to take care of the rash and leave it be from time to time.
- Wash thoroughly: Never apply a lot of force onto the rash but always try to keep the skin moistened for some time and the dry it with a towel. The best way to wash the affected area is with a towel and some warm water or Burow's solution (water and aluminum acetate).
- Use baking soda: A nice paste of baking soda on the crusted sores will increase the speed of healing and help soothe the pain. Another good thing to try is cornstarch if you would rather that than baking soda. Either one gets the job done really and they are both fairly easy to make, mixing it with water and just using it wherever you see red or feel pain.
- Use compresses: Having some cold, comfortable compresses on the skin works wonders against the pain and the shingles. It is also recommended to completely relax and kick back when doing this, maybe put some slow music and just take a moment to stay still. The body works better in healing and organizing the immune system against any virus once you are resting and putting on the compresses is a great time to do this.
- Use Aloe Vera: This is pretty much the miraculous and natural healing lotion used in any mistreated skin that needs some help in getting back into a healthy state. The plants natural oil oozing over your skin will feel soft and somewhat sticky. It might not smell great but it is one of the best things to dry with any rash, especially this one.
Any symptoms of shingles should be immediately shared with your doctor so that he can help and prescribe with any antibiotics or medicines that could help you. The first three days are essential since treatment in this early stage of the rash could mean quick healing for anyone. The most important part of the whole process is to keep calm but alert about any other thing you feel or see. Shingles is not something to worry about out since it has happened to so many but it is definitely a condition that requires attention and time to treat in a way you are unscathed by any other problems from it.