Shingles on the Face

Shingles on the face

Image credit: http://phil.cdc.gov/

Having shingles on the face is one the most depressing moments of a person’s life. Whenever one is waking up, upon looking on the mirror, he or she will first see the horrible rashes, worse, if the shingles rashes are all over the face. Treating shingles on the face is not only about treating the face alone but also the whole body must be treated since the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the culprit behind chicken pox, is infecting adults especially the older ones who had a chicken pox before. Medications and doctor’s advice must be sought to get rid of this annoying and dreadful shingles. Be beautiful again when shingles are not present anymore.

What is Shingles?

If you have clicked on our blog post, you will be now more informed about this awful viral skin disease. Even when chicken pox was healed, the zoster virus remains in the nervous system and this virus might be coming back to attack again as Shingles. however, in physical appearance, this is usually milder than chicken pox but internally, this is usually worse than chicken pox because it also causes nerve pain and it is more dangerous if not treated properly. It is not advisable to self medicate if shingles hits the head area because the nerves and other face parts such as eyes, nose and mouth are the most critically connected to the brain.

Why face and torso are the most targeted parts?

There is no official medical report about this. Since chicken pox and shingles were caused by the same virus, chicken pox has rashes all over the body while shingles rashes appear only on certain areas of the body. The affected area has been targeted because this is where the virus has been reactivated.

Will the rashes erupt on my whole face or only the side?

Shingles on the face often appear on the nose and the eye. Rashes also erupt on one side of the face, head/scalp, mouth, eye or ear. It is rare that shingles will occur on the whole face.

What to expect?

Shingles on the face or head may cause motor function and facial muscle weakness since it may involve the cranial nerves (nerves in the brain exchanging information involving head and neck)

You may feel itching and tingling on the would-be shingles area. After 1-5 days, rashes will form and these will turn into clusters of blisters filled with fluid and with crust over.

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. The condition where shingles affects the cornea area is known as zoster keratitis. This includes redness and swelling of the eye, drooping eyelid and inflammation of the cornea. Whenever one has this condition, seek a physician immediately because if this isn’t treated, blindness will likely occur.

If shingles hit one of the ears, hearing problems may occur. Aside from shingles on the ear, shingles in tongue and inside of the mouth may cause tasting, eating and ulcer problems. Biting and chewing will be difficult for the affected person.

It is known that the upper area of the face is the most prone area when it comes to face shingles. Even the condition of the area is mild, one must see a doctor.

How will the shingles clear up?

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. Most recovered with no visible scars so no need to worry about facial appearance.

Some may resort to vaccines to prevent the re-occurrence of this disease.

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.

Will I still experience post-shingles pain and what causes it?

Maybe. Having postherpetic neuralgia or pain after shingles rashes might continue for several months to more than a year.

The nerve functions were disrupted by shingles. It became confused and uncontrollable resulting in sending pain signals to the brain making the person feel the intense pain. Scar tissue forming near the nerves might also be a reason why this happens.

Most will likely to experience pain during the post-shingles stage if the rashes have occurred on the fifth cranial nerve known as the trigeminal nerve, (largest of the cranial nerves).

How will the post-shingles pain go away?

Depending on the case because different treatments work on different folks. It will go away through a single treatment or combination of skin patches or topical treatments such as Qutenza patches (Capsaicin) and Lidocaine.

Aside from the treatments mentioned above, TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) and Spinal cord or Peripheral nerve stimulation can help in treating the pain.

Conclusion

Shingles on the Face can be a nightmare but with knowledge and prompt treatment, it can be healed. Clear skin will come and self-confidence can be regained in facing the world.

Shingles home remedies

Shingles home treatment

Luckily, here, in front of you, is the answer for the shingles home remedies. Many will consult friends, relatives or search the Internet if they feel something unusual and then, the consultant will simply say that you must see a doctor. Common sense right? Let’s face it, if money or health insurance is not a problem especially to economically-challenged countries, one will see a physician immediately to be sure about his or her condition but how about if frequently answered questions about a certain disease in books and the Internet will help the affected person to save time, cost and effort if symptoms of the disease are just mild and can simply be remedied at home.

Summary about Shingles

The varicella-zoster virus which causes chicken pox can attack again that will cause  Shingles (zoster or zona). Shingles is a skin disease caused by a viral infection resulting to a painful clustered blisters or rash. Its other name is zoster or herpes zoster. This skin disease usually happened in older adults especially from ages 50-60 but it doesn’t mean that young people would be exempted. Everyone can get shingles from having weak immune system, stress, medications, aging and cancer treatments.

Upon aging, there’s the possibility that shingles will strike. An individual can be surely attacked by this virus if his or her mother during pregnancy have shingles or chicken pox or if he or she have already acquired chicken pox during his or her childhood years. When someone has already been healed from the chicken pox, the virus still remains in the nervous system.

When does a Shingles symptom needed to be taken seriously?

Please read “SHINGLES: A DREADFUL SKIN CONDITION” in this website first before reading this post so you will know if this shingles can be treated at home or if the affected individual must be admitted to the hospital immediately.

If the affected area is on the head including face and if you are pregnant, seek medical help because:

  • Shingles in the eye can cause pain and inflammation that may lead to temporary or permanent loss of vision.
  • Shingles in the ear causes hearing problems
  • Shingles in the tongue (herpes simplex) can cause not only eating problems but can also develop tongue sores or mouth ulcers as well.

If there is a pain but without rashes or blisters, it might be shingles that can lead from months to years of nerve pain if not treated properly.

Do it yourself Shingles home care

To relieve symptoms and prevent further complications, these tips must be followed for faster healing.

  • Rest and sleep to strengthen the immune system.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to lessen irritation by staying hydrated so skin can be prevented from drying out.
  • Good hygiene (including trimming your fingernails to reduce scratching)
  • Use cool and moist compress to ease the pain or itch. A compress with aluminum acetate solution might help too.
  • While waiting to have medicines, these baking ingredients, baking soda or corn starch may also be applied to dry the sores for a shorter healing process.
  • Regular hand washing, avoiding picking and scratching blisters, making the crust fall off naturally will prevent infection of shingles.
  • To clean away crusts and decrease oozing, the affected area must be soaked with tap water and dressing must be applied to it.

Non-prescription painkillers

Analgesics, acetaminophen, topical anesthetic or topical lotions containing calamine, anticonvulsants, optoids, antidepressants, aspirin or ibuprofen can ease the pain caused by shingles.

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

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:

  • Percocet
  • Vicodin
  • Medications aiming the nerves such as gabapentin or tricyclic medications such as nortriptyline, desipramine, or amitriptyline could be used.

These over-the counter painkillers prescribed 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 home remedies for shingles rashes or blisters:

  • Dab the cotton with colloidal silver or hydrogen peroxide and apply it to the infected rashes or blisters.
  • The popular Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (Bragg) is a big help. Mix ½ cup of it in 2 cups of water and use a cotton to dab to the affected areas.
  • Combine or make a mixture of leek juice, raw honey and aloe vera gel. Then, apply this mixture  to the rashes.
  • Lemon balm is the only herb in the mint family that has antiviral properties against herpes.
  • Many said that using Cayenne or chili pepper is effective. It contains capsaicin which is used topically for pain relief. If using it is very messy, try the ointment form, Zostrix. It is recommended to apply this four to five times daily to the affected area.
  • While on shingles, enjoy eating by adding garlic to food every day. Garlic has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties to fight diseases.
  • Licorice, known for having immune-boosting compounds, can be bought in pharmacies as licorice cream or ointment. Drinking licorice tea or applying a strong one to the rash three times a day might help.
  • Lomatium root can enhance the immune system and the recommended dosage for this is 500 mg four times a day every day.
  • The nutritional supplements to fight shingles are vitamins C, E, B12 and Zinc.
  • Vitamin C for anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It boosts the immune system.
  • Vitamin E for solving persistent nerve pain caused by zoster virus which is known as postherpetic neuralgia.
  • Vitamin B12 for good nerve function and relieving pain.
  • Zinc for reducing the frequency, duration and severity of shingles rashes or blisters outbreak.

The final say

Shingles home remedies or treatment is a big help and can be a first aid in treating shingles. If rashes or pain becomes worse or if you are pregnant, stop self-medicating and seek medical help to prevent danger in life.

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.

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.