5 Myths about Shingles You Need to Stop Believing
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. The disease brings about a painful rash and is often accompanied by fever, headache, fatigue, burning sensations, tingling feelings, shooting pain, and more. Shingles is often treated with antiviral medications and pain-relief methods. There are a number of myths related to shingles that are important to learn about so that you are educated and knowledgeable about this disease. If you suspect that you have shingles or you want to learn more about the disease, get in touch with our staff of amazing doctors and nurses at North County Health Services. We can provide excellent shingles treatment and help get you on the road to recovery.
Myth #1: Only Older People Get Shingles
Many believe that only older individuals can get shingles; however, that is not the case. It was once thought that if you had the chickenpox as a child, you are immune to getting shingles as an older adult. However, that is not the case either. While getting chickenpox as a kid does lower the likelihood of your contracting shingles when you’re older, there is no guarantee since the virus is already in your body and could be re-activated at any time. Although older adults are the most likely to get shingles, unfortunately, children are susceptible to getting shingles as well. It’s rare in children younger than 10 years of age, but kids do get it occasionally. Their symptoms are usually less severe, thankfully. Kids are at a higher risk of getting shingles when they had chickenpox within their first year of life or if their mother had it during her final trimester of pregnancy. Those with weakened immune systems are also susceptible to contracting shingles at any point in their lives.
Myth #2: Shingles Is Rare
About one million Americans get shingles every year. For those who live to be at least 85 years old, about half will have shingles at some point during their lifetime. Because your immune system tends to weaken as you age, your likelihood of getting shingles increases with every year. As mentioned above, those with weakened immune systems are also more likely to get shingles than otherwise healthy individuals. People who have undergone chemotherapy, those who have AIDS or cancer, and those on certain medications that may affect immune health are more susceptible to getting shingles.
Myth #3: Shingles Is Not Contagious
Since shingles stems from a virus, it is absolutely contagious. Just like chickenpox is contagious, shingles can be passed from one person to another very easily. Particularly when the rash is active and open, shingles is very contagious. The blisters typically develop a few after the initial symptoms start, and they will be open and filled with fluid. They will scab over within a few days, but the virus is easily transferrable during the period before they crust over. Additionally, since chickenpox and shingles come from the same virus, the disease can be transferred during an outbreak of chickenpox and it can simply manifest in another person in a different way, such as in the form of shingles.
Myth #4: The Rash Is the Main Concern
While there is no doubt that the shingles rash can be miserable, it is not the primary concern or even the worst part of shingles. The rash is often made up of blisters that itch, ooze, and eventually scab. However, before the rash appears, symptoms typically consist of intense pain throughout the body. This pain can be shooting, stabbing, stinging, or burning, and it is often the first sign that the sickness is indeed shingles. Other symptoms of shingles include fever, headache, fatigue, chills, stomach pain, muscle weakness, and hearing and vision problems. In addition, shingles can leave long-term effects on your body and health. Some experience long-term nerve pain, and some deal with body pain for up to a year after the initial outbreak of shingles.
Myth #5: You Can Only Get Shingles Once
While most people will only get shingles once, it can come back more than once. In fact, about one-third of those who get shingles will get it more than once. Particularly if you have long-lasting pain from the first instance of shingles, you are more likely to get it again than those whose symptoms subside rather quickly. Getting shingles treatment as soon as you think you have the disease is the best way to stay healthy and hopefully avoid a recurrence of the disease in the future.
No matter what myths you’ve heard about shingles in the past, you should always do your research before fully believing any medical statement. NCHS has an experienced staff of medical professionals who are ready to treat your shingles outbreak and help protect you from more sickness in the future. Whether you’re experiencing what you believe to be shingles symptoms, you already have full-blown shingles, or you’re dealing with long-term pain after an occurrence of shingles, we can help. Our multiple locations provide shingles treatment to help you get the relief and healing you desire. Get in touch with NCHS today.