Pain medication for shingles

Painkiller for shingles

Shingles is a viral skin infection that looks like a chicken pox except that it focuses only on an area of the body. Shingles can be very painful and one wants to make the pain go away as fast as possible.  While medicine can reduce inflammation and can shorten the healing process, it can also reduce the chances of having shingles complications such as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) or disseminated zoster.

Then, what is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) or disseminated zoster?

Disseminated zoster or known as disseminated shingles is fatal and a more alarming condition of shingles. It can invade the blood stream or body organs, such as the lungs or brain. One needs to be admitted to the hospital with a visual examination including steroidal and antiviral drugs, to ease symptoms and prevent complications.

So to avoid this level of complication, antiviral medicines and pain killers are needed.

Would buying over-the-counter painkillers instead of going to a physician is enough?

For mild shingle rashes, people who have this can manage these rashes without pain medications but majority still needs medications to manage pain. Some are content with buying over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen and aspirin. In their homes, percocet, vicodin, medications aiming the nerves such as gabapentin or tricyclic medications such as nortriptyline, desipramine, or amitriptyline could be used. But still, prescribed pain medications by a physician are still needed. Worse, if severe pain persists, the person must be admitted to the hospital and will have to be treated by intravenous pain medications.

Other medicines that would also treat the pain are Nerve block injections and Opioid painkiller known as Tramadol.

Warning: Tramadol should not be taken at the same time as tricycylic antidepressants, which are also used for long-lasting pain after shingles.

Commonly, shingles pain can be treated by medicines that can be used as well in treating epilepsy and depression. These medicines could change the nervous system to treat the pain. Advantages against disadvantages of taking painkillers must be weighted.

Be careful with placebos. A placebo is a dummy medicine that contains no active substances. Aside from feeling better from pain, healing process and condition must be observed. If side effects are dominant, just consult again to a physician and ask for medicine re-prescription.

How about combining medicines for pain relief?

If taking one medicine does not help, combining medicines may work together like combining gabapentin or neurontin with an opioid painkiller.

Combining medicines are common and physicians often prescribe these. One example is combining anti-inflammatory drugs plus opioid drugs such as morphine, hydrocodone or vicodin. Using this combination maximizes pain relief. If painkillers were combined with non-pain killers, sedation and drowsiness might occur. Doctors must be careful in prescribing and combining painkillers with anti-anxiety drugs, muscle relaxants, and other medications that also have sedating properties such as anticonvulsant drugs for it might result to an addictive effect.

While taking opioids, these are the side effects that may be found out: Dizziness, Constipation, Drowsiness and general illness feeling.

I don’t want to take pills or tablets. Is there a topical medicine to alleviate pain?

There are topical medicines that are specialized in immediate pain relief. The best topical medicines out there contain capsaicin or lidocaine.

It is best to get oral medicines together with topical medicines so you can manage the pain and at the same time be healed faster so you can fight the zoster virus and continue your normal activities.

Painkiller medicine comparison

 Everyone who has pain is considering taking painkillers. There are many painkillers for shingles but how would one know which one is the best.  Different painkillers work better if one knows the differences between those. In case of pain originated from the virus or nerves as shingles, here is the comparison made for the most popular painkillers.

Paracetamol

Paracetamol is used by patients to treat headaches and non-nerve pains. 2-4 tablets a day is a safe dosage for adults. This medicine can be taken within long periods since it generally doesn’t have side effects.

If pain is severe, don’t try to increase dosage that it might result to serious side effects. If the pain lasts for more than three days, have a consultation with your physician.

Aspirin

Aspirin is often used to relieve only minor aches and pains but it is dangerous to give this painkiller to children under 12 years of age.

Ibuprofen

This non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), Ibuprofen, works better when pain was caused by an inflammation of shingles.

Nortriptyline

This drug must not be taken if a person with shingles has heart attack or if being treated with methylene blue injection.

Percocet (Oxycodone and Acetaminophen)

Percocet is used to relieve moderate to severe pain. Percocet should not be used if one have recently used alcohol, sedatives, tranquilizers, or other narcotic medications.

Taking more than the recommended medication may lead to liver damage or death. If experiencing nausea, pain in upper stomach, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, or jaundice (yellowing of your skin or eyes), a doctor must be called immediately.

Amitriptyline and Gabapentin

Amitriptyline is a drug for depression while gabapentin is a drug for epilepsy. These medicines can also be used to treat pain caused by nervous system damage.  An affected person doesn’t need to be depressed or have epilepsy to take this drug. Side effects caused by these painkillers are drowsiness and dizziness.

Morphine

Morphine and morphine-like drugs such as oxycodone, fentanyl and buprenorphine are the strongest painkillers out there. Morphine may be packaged as a patch as well. This medicine must be only used for severe pain and nothing else. Because of its strength, careful monitoring of dosage and its effect will be made by a physician or pain specialist. Morphine is used for a long term solution to manage pain.

Does a pack of ice help in relieving shingles?

A pack of ice helps in relieving pain through placing it on the affected area. It eases the pain, itching and burning sensation.

The duration of putting an ice pack to the skin must be observed since prolonged use of ice pack can lead to local tissue damage.

post

Can a Child get Shingles?

Most of you may be wondering, “Can a child get shingles?”. The answer is a big fat YES. You can get Shingles at almost any age, and about five percent of cases occur during childhood, or in persons aged fifteen and below.

A battle with the itchy Chicken pox rash used to be a battle almost every child endure. But thanks to the developments in the world of vaccines, we can say goodbye to that annoying itch. Though being in this modern of an age, some still suffer this condition. And the earlier in life the child get Chicken pox, especially acquiring Chicken pox before turning three years old or being a child of a mom with Chicken pox during her third trimester of pregnancy, the bigger the chance he or she can acquire this dreadful Shingle rash during childhood. So, Yeah! To state the unfortunate truth, a child can get Shingles.

Herpes Zoster, or Zoster, or Shingles is assumed to be a reactivation of a latent or dormant, or in layman’s term, sleeping varicella virus infection and is perceived to be due to lowered immunity. After being itch-free and finishing the Chickenpox course (more like a curse), it is believed that this creeps aka Varicella Zoster virus lie dormant inside the nerve cells near the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). When these sleeping viruses are awakened and reactivated, Lo and behold, the occurrence of Shingles.             

 

SHINGLES FAST FIVE

  1. Shingles is also known medically as Zoster or Herpes Zoster.
  2. Shingles in caused by the Varicella Zoster Virus, similar to the cause of Chicken pox.
  3. Shingles can occur only, and only if, someone already has had run the course of Chicken pox. It is assumed to be a reactivation.
  4. Shingles in children are pretty rare and are usually occurring with mild clinical manifestations.
  5. Shingles is self-limiting, similar to almost all viral infections, and resolves in more or less, a month or thirty days.

 

HOW COMMON IS SHINGLES?       

       Disease Occurrence and Prevalence

Almost one out of three (33.33 percent) of people in the United States of America will develop Shingles or Herpes Zoster in the course of their lifetime. It is estimated that there are four cases of Herpes Zoster per one thousand (4 in 1,000) population. Nearly a million Americans go through this excruciatingly painful and itchy experience every year. Older adults are more likely to get the disease. About half or 50 percent of all cases occur in men and women aged 60 years and/or older. The incidence among people 60 years of age and older is about 10 cases per 1,000 people annually. And, only about five percent of cases (5 in 10,000 cases) occur during childhood, or in people aged 15 and below.

       Repeat Episode Occurrence

Studies show that Shingles can occur, and then reoccur, in an average of two to three episodes during a person’s lifetime, though the annual incidence of repeat episodes is still not known. Although usually, throughout one lifetime, a person can only manage 2 repeat episodes unless he or she is severely immuno-compromised. Such as children and adults with cancer and other immuno-depressive conditions.

 

SHINGLES SYMPTOMS IN GENERAL

The red rash is small, fluid-filled blisters, that shows up in clusters following a path of a nerve. The lesions is commonly accompanied or preceded by pain, which may be contained or spread throughout the entire dermatome of the affected nerve pathway. The pain may still be present after 30 days since the rash began.

 

SHINGLES SYMPTOMS IN CHILDREN Herpes-zoster-child

Shingles presentation in adults and children are somewhat similar and different in many ways. Classic Herpes Zoster symptoms that present in adults are not at all detected in children suffering the same disease, which may make diagnosis difficult. It is often misdiagnosed as other more common skin rashes in children, such as impetigo, eczema or even poison ivy.

The Shingles rash occurring children often don’t have much pain, or even, don’t have any pain at all. They still get the same red rash which appears in clusters in a single band following a nerve path. A child that gets Shingles won’t have to worry getting the rash all over his or her body because the Herpes Zoster rash stays along its band of skin supplied by the affected nerve pathway called the dermatome, and it usually occurs only to one side of the body.

Usually occurring with less pain or no pain at all, children affected with Shingles also less frequently experience postherpetic neuralgia, or a pain in the affected nerve that last for 30 days or a month.

Children getting Shingles won’t really feel sick or ill, and usually is afebrile during the course of the disease.

 

TAKING CARE OF CHILDREN WITH SHINGLES

Despite the aforementioned self-limiting feature of Herpes Zoster, one may still want to do some interventions for such a disease. In taking care of children with Shingles, the same goes with adults too, the approach is really just symptomatic care or palliative care. This means, the interventions will be directed not to directly eliminate the cause, which in this case is the Varicella Zoster Virus (this one seems impossible since a virus can only be dormant but not totally killed), but to only provide relief to the discomfort brought about by the clinical manifestations.

Most children as said above, will experience less pain or none at all. Only if needed, one can give Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. The itch of the rash can be alleviated through frequent bathing. No cream or ointment is needed for the rash. Also scratching, picking or bursting the rash is highly discouraged.

Children with Shingles or Herpes Zoster can transmit Chickenpox, but not Shingles, to others. Transmission will occur through direct contact with the rash. Though not as contagious as children with Chicken pox, the child affected is advised to stay out of school unless the rash can be kept covered until it dries and crusts over.

 

CAN A CHILD REALLY GET SHINGLES?

After all that’s been said, bottom line is, no one is safe from Shingles, of course with exemption to those vaccinated against Varicella Zoster Virus. Shingles or Herpes Zoster saves no one from its extremely itchy and painful clustered red rash. No regards of a person’s age and/or gender. Ensure a child is of optimum health to avoid being one of the 5 in 10,000.

SHINGLES: A Dreadful Skin Condition

Shingles virus showing treatment and symptoms.

Having acne, skin rashes or anything that goes bad on skin can be really annoying and these skin diseases can make one’s self esteem become low. These skin conditions will not only make people uglier but also can affect one’s health since Shingles was caused by a viral infection. Here is a simple but very detailed guide to know this skin disease.

What is Shingles and how will a person catches it?

Shingles (also known as zoster or zona) is a skin disease caused by a viral infection which results to a painful rash. It is primarily happened in older adults especially from ages 50-60 but it does not mean that young people would be exempted. Aside from aging, weak immune system, stress, medications, cancer treatments and if their mothers have it during their late pregnancy or having a chicken pox themselves during childhood can also be causes of Shingles. The verdict for this painful, awful and alarming skin disease is the Vacirella zoster virus. This virus belongs to a group of viruses called herpesviruses. Herpesviruses hides in the nervous system after the occurrence of initial infection and travels down to the nerve cell fibers to cause a renewed infection.

Vocirella zoster virus is the main culprit of the popularly known viral skin disease which is the Chicken pox. When a person has healed from a chicken pox, the zoster virus remains in his or her nervous system. Upon aging, there’s a possibility that this virus will strike again and here comes the shingles.

 

Shingles Symptoms

On a single part of the body, redness and painfulness can be a red flag for shingles. You may feel itching and tingling in this area. After 1-5 days, rashes will form and these will turn into clusters of blisters filled with fluid and with crust over. It looks like a chicken pox, the difference is only that chicken pox’s rashes can be seen all over the body while shingles can be seen usually only a single part whether it’s only on face, neck, back, butt, torso, etc. New blisters may arise up to a week. People with lesions may feel spasms even at a gentle touch.

On the eye part known as optical shingles, the zoster virus can cause painful eye inflammation and cause temporary or permanent loss of vision which is very alarming.

Symptoms may include headache, fever and chills, nausea, swollen glands (lymph nodes), dizziness, fatigue, malaise and heartburn or stomach ache.

Laboratory tests can be done to detect the disease. These can detect VZV-specific IgM antibody in blood. Other tests can be conducted through collecting a lymph from a blister tested by polymerase chain reaction to observe VZV DNA or through examination with an electron microscope for virus particles.

Blood work tests are not needed necessarily, a swab of fluid from the blisters can be tested in a laboratory to detect antibodies and varicella zoster virus to confirm diagnosis.

Shingles effect: Is it contagious?

Shingles is widespread and painful. It isn’t spread through coughing or sneezing but direct contact to shingles rashes can infect others. A person with shingles must also avoid close contact with people particularly the infants, children, pregnant women and anyone who doesn’t have a chicken pox before. Also those who have weak immune system and are currently ill.

The person who has shingles can cover the affected area with dressing so it will not only be healed but also it will help to minimize the spread of the virus. As the shingles becomes drier, it will be less contagious. Once the shingles becomes scabs, the person is not anymore contagious.

How to treat and prevent Shingles?

Shingles can be treated with antiviral medicines and painkillers prescribed by doctors. If at home, non-prescription painkillers such as analgesics, acetaminophen, topical anesthetic or topical lotions containing calamine, anticonvulsants, optoids, antidepressants, aspirin or ibuprofen can ease the pain caused by shingles. Regular hand washing, avoiding picking and scratching blisters, making the crust fall off naturally will prevent infection of shingles.

Use cool and moist compress to ease the pain or itch. While waiting to have medicines, corn starch or baking soda may also be applied to dry the sores for a shorter healing process.

To clean away crusts and decrease oozing, the affected area must be soaked with tap water.

To reduce inflammation and complications, antiviral medicines might be prescribed such as Aciclovir, Valaciclovir and Famciclovir. During the healing stage, shingles will dry up forming scabs or crusts and will begin to fade within 7-10 days.

Some may resort to vaccines to prevent the re-occurrence of this disease. All about vaccines for Shingles, considerations if is it right to get a shot and medicines to be injected will be discussed on another post.

To prevent shingles from coming back or from getting it, aside from eating healthy foods, living in a clean and non-polluted environment, one must avoid direct contact to the shingles or blisters area.  Immune system must be paid attention. Regular medical check-ups even annually will definitely help to track your health condition.

Remember, Health is Wealth.