- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
Is There a Shingles Vaccine?
I don't know about you, except for the vaccine for the flu virus, hearing the news that there's a vaccine for an adult disease, reminds me of childhood immunizations. I guess that harks back to my childhood, and it reminds me of the old saying, "once a man, twice a child."
Who would have thought that as you get older you'll need a vaccination. Well that's the case. As if we didn't have enough to contend with as we get older. Now something that we thought we 'd conquered, chickenpox, comes back into the picture. Herpes zoster, commonly known as shingles, a relative of chickenpox. More about that later.
I read that once you reach 60 years old, and have had chickenpox, you're susceptible to shingles. And yes there is a vaccination for it.
The vaccination for shingles was licensed in 2006, and is given in a single dose. Clinical trials has shown that the vaccination reduced the risk of shingles by 50%.
Not everyone should have the vaccine, for instance, if you've ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to gelatin, neomycin, or any other component of shingles vaccine, then it wouldn't be a good idea to have the vaccine. Also if you have a weakened immune system due to AIDS, or anything that effects the immune system, such as a cancer treatment involving radiation, or chemotherapy. Now, here is a funny one. If you are pregnant or might get pregnant, (at 60, I'm just saying). I guess that had to be added, because of the advancements in medicine, which enables pregnancy at any age. Well!
Actually I didn't find any serious problems identified with the shingles vaccine. So, after weighing all the information concerning the vaccine, an intelligent, informed decision can be made, whether or not to have it.
What is shingles
Herpes zoster, commonly known as Shingles is a viral disease caused by the Varicella-Zoster virus, this is the same virus that causes chickenpox, which generally occurs in children and young people. Once the virus that causes chickenpox has subsided in the form of chickenpox the virus does not leave the body, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near the spinal cord and brain, and years later can go on to cause shingles. Shingles is characterized by painful skin rash with blisters usually on one side of the body, often in a strip or sometimes a belt like pattern. Please view the videos contained in this hub.
Usually one-sided pain, burning, or tingling signals the first symptom. The burning and pain may be very intense. Red patches followed by small blisters that are similar to chickenpox in its earlier stages, (if you can remember back that far), appear on the skin, in a form of a band of blisters that wraps from the middle of the back around one side of the chest to the breastbone. When the blisters break they form small ulcers that begin to dry and form crusts. The crusts fall off in 2 to 3 weeks. It may also involve the face, eyes, mouth and ears.
Other symptoms may also include:
- General ill-feeling
- Chills and Fevers
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty moving some of the muscles in the face
- Taste and Vision problems
- Swollen glands (lymph nodes)
- Joint pain
- Genital lesions
- Drooping eyelids
- Loss of eye motion
Shingles rash usually disappear within 2 to 4 weeks, however some sufferers may experience residual nerve pain for months or even years. Treatment to relieve the pain is available. Some doctors may prescribe an antiviral medicine called acyclovir. There are similar drugs called desciclovir, famciclovir, valacyclovir and peniclovir that are sometimes used. It is recommended that medication be started within 24 hours of feeling pain or burning, when shingles is suspected, and before blisters appear. Corticosteroids, such as prednisone is sometimes used to reduce swelling and pain. Of course not all medications work for all, so everything possible should be tried.
Other medicines that maybe used include:
- Zostrix, a cream containing capsaicin
- Antihistamines, taken by mouth or applied to the skin
- Other treatments sometimes recommended are: Cool wet compresses, soothing baths using colloidal oatmeal, or, starch. Also lotions, such as calamine lotion.
Is shingles contagious
Is shingles contagious, yes, if the person has not had chickenpox, however, instead of developing shingles, they develop chickenpox. Shingles is not transmitted through sneezes or coughs, it cannot pass through the air. Shingles is spread from an infected person to a susceptible person through contact with the blisters or rashes. This happens when the blisters have clear fluid and when the blisters have not crusted over.
To prevent the spread of shingles, the suggestion is to keep the blisters covered, while the blisters have clear fluid and not crusted over. Once the blisters are crusted over, the virus cannot be spread.
So, with all the available information an informed decision as to whether or not to have the vaccination, can be made intelligently.
© 2009 Alfreta Sailor