30 Something Shingle Gal
What are Shingles?
Shingles, which means, "belt," is a virus that lays dormant at the end of the spinal ganglia, and when activated causes a blistered like condition on the skin. It is very itchy, and red and can occur either on one side of the body or the other, during an outbreak, almost anywhere on the body even the eyes. It is most common on the torso; however, can happen anywhere on the body. It follows a pathway of nerves, since the nerves are what is affected, which is why Shingles can be so painful. We are colonized with the virus Varicella-Zoster, after a bout of chicken pox when we are younger, but it never affects us until our immunity is lowered or something happens in the body, it's not completely known. Low immunity is more than likely why it is more common in elderly people to have bouts of shingles. People who have Cancer, Aids, or Suppressed immune systems from disease or certain medications are likely to have it as well. One in three people will have shingles in their lifetime.
My Introduction to Shingles
I woke up one morning and felt something like a scratching pain, or a sunburn. I got in the shower and noticed that my shoulder was burning. After I got out and looked in the mirror, I noticed a very unsightly rash, consisting of about eleven spots total.
I ignored it thinking perhaps I had been bitten, and some bug had a field day, or it was a long forgotten case of Bacne from my teens. Perhaps my hormones are off? Or maybe it's a heat rash?
After another day the rash became more red and apparent, itchy and uncomfortable. So I called the doctor and they got me in immediately. The diagnosis? Shingles! Myself being in my thirties, how is this possible?
The doctor simply said that the virus had reactivated itself. Anyone who has had Chicken pox is susceptible to shingles, we really do not know what causes it. It is said any type of stress on the body can cause this virus to activate itself. I would leave a picture of my shingles for you; however, it's quite unsightly. You can google shingles and the different stages and see pictures if you are curious. There are four different stages of severity, luckily mine is the first stage.
Shingles is not contagious, in that you cannot catch shingles. You can; however, catch chicken pox from someone who has shingles, if you have never had chicken pox. You would literally have to come into contact with the fluid inside the blister with someone who has it, to catch it.
It is recommended that you refrain from being around pregnant women if you have had a bout of shingles, since it's very dangerous for an unborn fetus, and they can easily catch this virus. Also anyone with low immunity that hasn't had chicken pox. Better to be safe than sorry.
The virus will stay localized to one area on your body, and once in the stage of blistering and oozing , will generally not spread to other areas, you cannot touch the blister for example and spread it to another spot on your body. The best thing is to keep it covered so it does not become infected. Try your best not to scratch, calomine lotion and cool compresses and baths are helpful. Once the blisters have crusted over you are no longer contagious, they will fall off on their own.
Are you under 50 and have had shingles?
Why Are Younger People Getting Shingles?
Could it be that our immune systems have taken a hit due to all the medications available, and the poorly processed foods? Sedentary lifestyles?
Super bugs like MRSA, VRE, and ESBL are on the rise due to our over medicating population. It really makes you wonder.
I know of a twenty year old that had shingles in their eyes. Could having shingles mean that you have an underlying condition that you don't know about? Not necessarily, the best thing is to take care of yourself and get lots of good rest and nutrition. Sometimes stress and worry can have major effects on the body, it's not worth it to worry about something that hasn't happened. If you have a history of illness in your family, it's best to talk with your doctor and keep regular appointments.
I guess maybe it's time to really reevaluate our diets and lifestyles. For now I will do my best not to scratch, nurse my wounds, and hope and pray for the best.
Should you get the shingles vaccine?
I have now had shingles twice in my life time and am 36 years old. Once at 33 and once at 36. I have inquired about the shingles vaccination for the prevention of shingles and related complications, only to be told that I have to be over 50 to inquire about it, and now it is suggested that you wait until the age of 60. The cost in Canada for the shingles vaccine is $200.00. Is the vaccine 100 percent effective? I am not sure, but it is said to protect a person for five years; maybe longer.
Shingles can cause long lasting nerve damage long after you have had it, and sometimes is a lifetime thing. So what is a young person to do?