Shingles can be an incredibly painful condition, yet few people other than those who suffer from it understand shingles. For the uninitiated, shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus - the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, lurks in the nervous systems of some people who have had chickenpox. Then, when the varicella zoster virus re-emerges, it moves from the nerves to the skin, causing a rash and painful blisters. The most common place for shingles to appear is in a band around the trunk of the body, although some people are affected along one side of their body or in a localized area.
If you've been plagued with shingles, or you're concerned you may get shingles, here are tips that will help.
1. If you're over 60, get vaccinated. According to the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a vaccine for people over the age of 60 who have had chickenpox, but who haven't had shingles. The vaccine is about 50 percent effective in preventing shingles, and can lessen the seriousness of shingles in those who later get the disease.
2. Embrace antiviral drugs. If you have shingles, taking antiviral drugs can be a lifesaver. If you catch it soon enough, shingles remedies can shorten the length of time you have an outbreak and can keep a mild case of shingles from getting out of control. In addition, antivirals can prevent what's known as postherpetic neuralgia, which can leave skin sensitive and painful for months or years after shingles blisters have healed.
3. Avoid some types of physical contact. Although shingles isn't contagious, in that you can't give shingles to another person, contact with the rash associated with shingles can cause chickenpox in people who haven't already had it (and thus haven't developed an immunity to it). This is particularly problematic for people who have weakened immune systems, for pregnant women, and for babies and children who have not been vaccinated.
4. Get treatment for aftereffects. If you suffer from postherpetic neuralgia, there are a variety of medications that may help your pain and suffering. Topical agents, steroids, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants are all used to treat the lingering pain. Don't be afraid to ask for help. You shouldn't have to suffer alone.
5. Scour the Web. The Internet provides a wealth of information about shingles, and some of the best sites offer manuals about shingles remedies. In-depth advice about what to wear during a shingles outbreak, the role of painkillers and antiviral drugs in dealing with the condition, why antidepressants can help treat shingles, and when and how steroids should be used constitutes vital information that those with shingles - and those who love them.
Remember, the key to treating shingles is to attack the problem early - ideally before the telltale blisters appear. When you do, you'll lessen the severity of shingles, and recover much more quickly.
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Chris Robertson is an author of Majon International, one of the worlds MOST popular internet marketing companies.
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