What is Shingles?
Shingles is a painful nerve infection caused by a virus. Around 1 in 100 Australians over 50 years old are likely to get shingles at some stage.
But what is shingles – and how can it be treated?
What causes shingles?
The varicella-zoster virus causes shingles, by infecting a nerve and the surrounding skin. Did you have chickenpox as a child? That virus can reappear in later life as shingles. Alarmingly, almost everyone who has had chickenpox before age 40 may be at risk of shingles.
You may also get shingles if you:
- Have received an organ or bond-marrow transplant
- Are stressed
- Have HIV or AIDS
- Are older than 50
Some cancer treatments and medications (such as immunosuppressive drugs) can also cause shingles.
What are shingles symptoms?
If you have a sore, blistered rash on the skin for more than a week, you may have shingles and should visit a doctor as soon as possible. In some cases, shingles can remain and cause pain in the nerve even after the rash has disappeared.
Other shingles symptoms include tingling or burning skin, fever, nausea, aches, and a headache.
While the shingles rash can crop up anywhere on the body, it more commonly appears on the face, chest, and stomach.
How is shingles treated?
Unfortunately, there is no way to rid the body of shingles. However, it is possible to treat the symptoms of shingles. This includes:
- Calamine lotion
- Antibiotic creams
- Wearing loose clothes that won’t rub the rash
- Keeping the rash clean and dry
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