Elder Care: Shingles also called Herpes Zoster or chickenpox, is a viral infection that occurs when the varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox, reactivates in the body.
The varicella-zoster virus can lay dormant in the body after a person has had chickenpox. The virus can become active again and cause shingles. Elder Care can help your senior with this.
Causes of Shingles in Seniors
As we age, our immune system becomes weaker, making it more likely that the varicella-zoster virus will become active again and cause shingles. The varicella-zoster virus can be reactivated in the body after a person has had chickenpox. The varicella-zoster virus can be reactivated for months or years, even after a person has had chickenpox.
After the virus reactivates, the virus travels to the skin, where it causes the characteristic shingles rash. The virus cannot spread to other people, and it cannot be transmitted through the air. The virus can only spread from person to person through direct contact with the infected person’s rash.
The best way to prevent shingles is to get vaccinated for chickenpox. The chickenpox vaccine is not only for children. The CDC recommends that adults over the age of 50 get vaccinated for chickenpox.
Symptoms of Shingles in Seniors
Shingles is more common in adults age 50 and older than in younger people. Anyone who has had chickenpox or is over the age of 60 has the potential to develop shingles, but it is more likely to develop in seniors. Shingles typically affect one side of the body and is characterized by a painful, blistering, rash in a limited area.
Shingles usually occur after the chickenpox virus has reactivated. The classic shingles rash is described as a band or strip of blisters that run from the back of the head to the belly button. The blisters can appear anywhere on the body but are typically seen on one side of the body, beginning at the face or chest and spreading down.
Shingles can also affect the eyes, causing a painful, dry, red rash around the eyes. This rash is called Ramsay Hunt syndrome and can be serious if it affects the cornea.
Shingles occur most often on the torso but can also appear on the face, head, and neck. Anywhere the chickenpox blisters appeared can be affected by shingles. It is common for the shingles rash to reappear in the same area of the body as the chickenpox, even if it is a different place on the body.
The most common symptom of shingles is a painful rash and blisters in a limited area of the body. The pain associated with shingles can vary from mild to severe and can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
Other symptoms of shingles that can cause discomfort include:
- Low energy
- Trouble sleeping
Treatment for Shingles in Seniors
There is no cure for shingles, but there are ways to alleviate the symptoms of shingles. If your senior has shingles, there are some things you can do to reduce the pain and discomfort. Treatment for shingles may include antiviral medications, painkillers, and anti-inflammatory medications.
Treatment will depend on the severity of the symptoms of shingles. If your senior has a mild case of shingles, they may only need to treat the pain. If your senior has a severe case of shingles, your senior may need to see a doctor for antiviral medication.
Treatment for pain and discomfort associated with shingles includes:
- Over-the-counter pain medications.
- Cold compresses.
- Topical pain relievers.
- Pain relievers prescribed by a doctor.
Antiviral medication can reduce the severity of the symptoms of shingles, and can even help to reduce the risk of post-herpetic neuralgia. Post-herpetic neuralgia, which is also called shingles-induced nerve pain, is a condition that is triggered by the shingles virus and is characterized by severe pain, usually in the area where the shingles’ rash appeared.
Elder care can help alleviate the symptoms of shingles and give your senior a better quality of life! Give us a call today!
If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring Elder Care in Folsom, CA, talk to the caring staff at Partners in Care today. Serving El Dorado, Nevada, Yuba, Sutter, Sacramento, Placer, Butte, Glenn, Yolo, & Colusa Counties! Call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! (530) 268-7423
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