According to the Mayo Clinic:
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you've had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles.
I have a mild case because when I turned 60 my good doctor gave me the shingles vaccine. That is the magic age healthy people are supposed to get the vaccine. Getting older seems to be an invitation for the varicella-zoster virus to return. I wish my body would start consulting with my mind about issuing these age-related invitations.
My doctor said the vaccine only reduces your chance of getting an outbreak by 50%. Don't be discouraged though, for those of us who are vaccinated an outbreak isn't nearly as painful or intense as it would be otherwise. I have heard horror stories of how painful a full blown attack of shingles can be, so I am thanking my lucky stars that I got the vaccine.
It usually presents as a small strip of blistered rash on one side of your body. I know, ick. It often appears on your torso, sometimes on your face. I have it on my right forehead and the top of my scalp. The shingles itch and ache with some nerve pain in my neck just below my ear. FYI it is very bad news if shingles form inside the eye. If you get shingles on your face an eye doctor will examine the eye and apply eye drops that ward off the worst of it. And by the worst of it I mean loss of vision. Scary, especially since my right eye has been swelling up overnight since the outbreak. I wake up each morning looking like a boxer who took it on the eye instead of the chin.
I went to my regular doctor (GP) and then an eye doctor. Helpful tip: if you really need to see a doctor tell the receptionist you think you might have shingles. Both places got me in immediately. The GP said that the shingles medication is only effective if you start taking it within 72 hours of the outbreak. I got in just in the nick of time and I am happily and earnestly taking my medicine 3 times a day for 7 days.
The eye doctor examined my eye and said no shingles in there! I am so relieved.
He also said because I have shingles now, I only have about a 2.5% chance I will get it again. I do so like those odds.
|An old tree with an extremely odd trunk. Nature will do what she will.|