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What are the Symptoms of Shingles

Update Date: Aug 01, 2019 09:58 AM EDT

Shingles is a disease that is characterized as blistering skin that results in a painful rash. This rash usually only affects one side of the torso or face. Also known as zoster, zona, or herpes zoster, shingles can often imitate a very severe acne breakout but is more agonizing and hard to get rid of without medication. It is estimated that 1 million cases per year develop in the U.S., and 1 out of 3 people have the risk of developing the disease in their lifetime.

Causes of Shingles

The varicella-zoster virus causes shingles and is also found in the common child's illness chickenpox. You can only get shingles if you've developed chickenpox, but if you've ever received the varicella vaccine, there is a very rare chance it could also develop. Once you contact chickenpox (even as an adult), the virus will lay dormant in your nervous system until it re-emerges again, though it is unclear why this happens.

Risk Factors

•  Age: Older individuals are more likely to contract shingles. 50% of all cases occur in adults aged 60 years or older.

• Weak Immune System: Children, the elderly, and pregnant woman are more likely to get shingles than the general population. If you have had cancer, have cancer, have HIV/AIDS, or are taking medications that contain steroids, you are also at risk. Those with autoimmune disorders such as ulcerative colitis, erythematosus, lupus, or arthritis could develop shingles in their lifetime.

• Stress: There is a strong link between stress and shingles as stress can weaken the immune system.

Does Medicare Cover Shingles?

Medicare Part B does cover the shingles vaccine. Pay attention to the prescription plan your HMO offers you because the amount you'll have to pay will vary significantly. Medicare Part B will also cover the visit that would diagnose you with shingles, as this article shows. Medicare Part D covers the drugs you would take once diagnosed, which is an add on plan.

Symptoms and Signs of Shingles

You can usually tell right away if you have shingles. You'll feel a very painful rash start to come on in a part of your body so sore that you won't be able to touch it or lie down on it. This discomfort will usually appear before the visible, cracking rash will show above the skin. In very rare cases, the rash won't appear above the surface.

Other symptoms include:

• Nausea

• Malaise

• Fever and Chills

• Headache

• Swollen Lymph Glands and

• Body Aches

After the discomfort, the rash will appear after a few days. It will begin in a cluster of red patches that will be small and will slowly develop into blisters. These blisters are full of fluid and will break open, dry, and scab over. These scabs will fall off after weeks to a month of healing. The average rash will recover after two to four weeks.

The location of the rash is random, but it will often affect the torso or face. If it's on the torso, it will commonly be seen across the ribs or waist. It is uncommon for the shingles rash to target more than one area of the body, but if it does, it's usually a body part that's adjacent to where the outbreak started.

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