Can shingles be caused by stress: The request could not be satisfied
Shingles (Herpes Zoster): Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention
Shingles is a rash that develops into blisters lasting days or weeks.
What is shingles?
Shingles (herpes zoster) is a viral infection that causes an outbreak of a painful rash or blisters on the skin. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. The rash most often appears as a band of rashes or blisters in one area of the body.
Where does shingles come from?
When you have chickenpox as a child, your body fights off the varicella-zoster virus and the physical signs of chickenpox fade away, but the virus always remains in your body. In adulthood, sometimes the virus becomes active again. This time, the varicella-zoster virus makes its second appearance in the form of shingles.
How common is shingles?
Shingles affects 1 out of every 3 people in the United States. More than 1 million cases of shingles are diagnosed every year. The risk of shingles increases as you get older, with about half the cases occurring in people over the age of 50. Shingles develops in about 10% of people who have had chickenpox at an earlier time in their life.
Who is at risk for getting shingles?
People who have had chickenpox who are more likely to develop shingles include:
- People with a weakened immune system (such as people with cancer, HIV, organ transplant recipients or those receiving cancer chemotherapy).
- People over the age of 50.
- People who have been ill.
- People who have experienced trauma.
- People who are under stress.
After having chickenpox, your body does not rid your system of the virus. Instead, the virus stays in a portion of the spinal nerve root called the dorsal root ganglion. For the majority of people, the virus stays there quietly and doesn’t cause problems. We aren’t always sure why the virus gets reactivated, but this typically occurs at times of stress.
Can you get shingles more than once?
Unfortunately, yes, you can. One of the biggest myths about shingles is that it can only happen once. This is not true. You can have more than one episode. If you get shingles again, you usually don’t get the rash in the same place.
Symptoms and Causes
What causes shingles?
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.
What are the symptoms of shingles?
Early symptoms of shingles may include:
- Feeling tired.
- Sensitivity to light.
- Stomach upset.
Other signs and symptoms appearing a few days after the early symptoms include:
- An itching, tingling or burning feeling in an area of skin.
- Redness in the skin in the affected area.
- Raised rash in a small area of skin.
- Fluid-filled blisters that break open then scab over.
- Mild to severe pain in the area of skin affected.
How long does shingles last?
From the time you begin to feel symptoms until the rash has totally disappeared can take three to five weeks.
- First, a few days before the rash appears, you may feel pain in an area on your skin. The pain is described as itching, burning, stabbing, or shooting.
- Next, the raised rash appears as a band or a patch, usually on one side of the body. The rash usually appears around the waistline or on one side of the face, neck, or on the trunk (chest/abdomen/back), but can occur in other areas including the arms and legs.
- Within three to four days, the rash develops into red, fluid-filled, round, painful, open blisters.
- Usually, these blisters begin to dry out and crust over within about 10 days.
- The scabs clear up about two to three weeks later.
Do you always get the typical rash if you have shingles?
Occasionally some patients don’t get the rash. If you have any of the other symptoms of shingles (even without a rash), see your healthcare provider sooner rather than later. There are effective treatments that can be given early in the disease. If it turns out you don’t have shingles, seeing your healthcare provider allows any condition that you do have to be discovered and treated early in its course.
The shingles rash appears on the abdomen and face, neck and shoulders.
Why does shingles appear mostly on one side or in one area of the body?
The virus travels in specific nerves, so you will often see shingles occur in a band on one side of the body. This band corresponds to the area where the nerve transmits signals. The shingles rash stays somewhat localized to an area; it does not spread over your whole body. The torso is a common area, as is the face.
Is shingles contagious?
Someone with shingles can’t spread shingles to another person, but they can spread chickenpox. The varicella-zoster virus is spread through direct skin-to-skin contact with the fluid that oozes from the blisters (rarely, by breathing in airborne varicella-zoster virus). If your rash is in the blister phase, stay away from those who haven’t had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine and keep your rash covered.
How long is a person contagious?
A person with shingles remains contagious until the rash is dried and crusted over. The varicella-zoster virus can only cause chickenpox in someone who has never had chickenpox or hasn’t been vaccinated against chickenpox.
Diagnosis and Tests
How is shingles diagnosed?
Shingles can be diagnosed by the way the rash is distributed on the body. The blisters of a shingles rash usually appear in a band on one side of the body. Shingles also may be diagnosed in a laboratory with scrapings or a swab of the fluid from the blisters.
Management and Treatment
How is shingles treated?
There is no cure for shingles but there are treatments for managing the symptoms. Antiviral medications (such as acyclovir [Zovirax®], famciclovir [Famvir®] and valacyclovir [Valtrex®]) may ease the discomfort and reduce the duration of the symptoms, particularly if started within 72 hours of the first sign of shingles. Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) can be effective in relieving mild pain. Antibacterial agents can be given to treat bacterial infections of the shingles rash (if this occurs).
If I have disseminated zoster/shingles (more than one area of blisters), what can I expect for my hospital stay?
It is important to note that most people with shingles do not need to be in a hospital, but if you do:
- You will be in an airborne-contact isolation room.
- The door will be kept closed.
- A sign on your door will remind people who have never had chickenpox or the vaccine not to enter.
- The sign will also remind staff to wear gowns and gloves when entering the room.
If I have localized shingles (only one area of my body) that cannot be covered, what can I expect for my hospital stay?
- You will be in a contact isolation room.
- The sign on the door will remind staff to wear gowns and gloves when entering the room.
What are the complications of shingles?
After the shingles rash has disappeared, you might continue to have nerve pain in that same area. This pain, called postherpetic neuralgia, can last for months or years and become quite severe.
About 10% to 15% of people who get shingles develop postherpetic neuralgia. Researchers don’t know why some people get postherpetic neuralgia and others don’t. It may be that nerves become more sensitive or the virus may be invading and damaging the central nervous system.
Other complications include other types of nerve issues like numbness or itching, bacterial infection of the shingles rash, and eye and ear inflammation if the rash is near these organs.
How is postherpetic neuralgia treated?
Treatments include lotions or creams (such as lidocaine or capsaicin) and/or other medications not specifically used for pain, such as antidepressants or drugs for epilepsy. Regular pain relievers are not usually effective for this type of pain.
If pain doesn’t lessen, other treatments such as nerve blocks or steroid injections near the area where the nerves exit the spine can be tried. Implantable nerve stimulator devices are an option for severe, ongoing pain that has not responded to other treatments.
Is a vaccine available to prevent shingles?
Two vaccines are available in the United States to reduce your chance of developing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. One vaccine, Zostavax®, has been available since 2006. The second vaccine, Shingrix®, has been available since 2017. Shingrix is recommended as the preferred vaccine by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of medical and public health experts.
Shingrix® (recombinant zoster vaccine) is given as a two-dose shot in the upper arm. You should receive the second dose (shot) two to six months after receiving the first. Shingrix has been shown to be more than 90% effective in preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. Its effectiveness remains above 85% for at least four years after receiving the vaccine.
Due to high levels of demand for the Shingrix vaccine and a supply shortage, the vaccine manufacturer is managing the timing and distribution of the vaccine throughout the United States. It plans to continue to manage the availability of the vaccine and hopes to make available the same or increased number of doses and to shorten the wait time for delivery this year (2020).
Who should be vaccinated with Shingrix?
The Shingrix vaccine is recommended for those 50 years of age and older who are in good health.
You should get the Shingrix vaccine even if:
- You have had shingles already.
- You have been previously vaccinated with Zostavax (zoster vaccine live). (If you’ve been vaccinated with Zostavax, wait at least 8 weeks before getting vaccinated with Shingrix.)
- You do not know for sure if you’ve ever had chickenpox.
Ask your healthcare provider, who knows your entire health history, if getting this vaccine is right for you.
Who should not be vaccinated with Shingrix?
You should not receive the Shingrix vaccine if you:
- Have ever had a severe allergy to this vaccine or any ingredient in this vaccine.
- Are breastfeeding or pregnant.
- Currently have shingles.
- Are somewhat ill or very ill and have a high fever.
- Have tested negative for immunity to varicella zoster virus (get the chickenpox vaccine instead).
Ask your healthcare provider if the benefits of getting the vaccine outweigh any potential risks.
What serious side effects should I watch for after getting the Shingrix vaccine?
Serious side effects from vaccines are extremely rare. However, call 911 or get to a hospital right away if you experience any of the following within minutes to hours after receiving Shingrix:
- Swelling of the face or throat.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Fast heartbeat.
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, weakness.
If I’ve had shingles recently, how long should I wait before getting the Shingrix vaccine?
You can get the Shingrix vaccine any time after the shingles rash has gone away.
Is the Zostavax vaccine still being used?
Yes. It is still recommended for preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia in healthy people age 50 and older. (The CDC, however, recommends Zostavax for adults age 60 and older.) Zostavax is given as a single-dose shot versus the two-dose shot for Shingrix. Zostavax is less effective than Shingrix in preventing shingles (51% vs more than 90%) and postherpetic neuralgia (67% vs more than 90%).
Zostavax can be considered if you are allergic to Shingrix or if Shingrix is unavailable due to supply shortage and you want some immediate protection from a possible case of shingles and/or postherpetic neuralgia. Because it is a weakened live vaccine, it may be dangerous if you have cancer, HIV, or take steroids, chemotherapy or other medications that suppress your immune system. Ask your healthcare provider if the Zostavax vaccine is an option for you.
Do I need to stay away from children, pregnant women, people with cancer or anyone with a weak immune system after I get the Zostavax vaccine?
According to the CDC, it is safe to be around babies and young children, pregnant women or anyone with a weakened immune system after you get the Zostavax vaccine. Even though the Zostavax vaccine contains a weakened live varicella zoster virus, the CDC says there is no documented case of a person getting chickenpox from someone who has received the Zostavax vaccine. (And a person can’t get shingles unless they have already had chickenpox.)
If I have previously received the Zostavax vaccine, how long should I wait before getting the Shingrix vaccine?
If you have previously received the Zostavax vaccine, the CDC recommends waiting at least eight weeks before getting the Shingrix vaccine.
If I get the shingles vaccine, does this mean I’m 100% protected from getting shingles?
No, just like most vaccines, getting vaccinated doesn’t provide 100% protection from disease. However, getting the shingles vaccine reduces your risk of developing shingles. Even if you do develop shingles, you’ll be more likely to have a mild case. Also, you’ll be much less likely to develop postherpetic neuralgia, the painful condition that can follow a shingles outbreak.
If I have a medical condition that suppresses my immune system, should I get the shingles vaccine?
Having a weakened immune system can increase the likelihood of getting shingles, so that’s even more of a reason to get the shingles vaccine. However, you must get the Shingrix vaccine, which is not made from a live virus (The older — and still available — vaccine Zostavax is made from a weakened live virus and should not be given to people with weakened immune systems.)
Outlook / Prognosis
What should I expect will happen to me if I get shingles?
Shingles can be a very painful condition. If you think you have the symptoms of shingles, see your healthcare provider right away. Starting antiviral medications early can ease your discomfort and reduce the duration of your symptoms.
A better approach to shingles is to take action and do what you can to lessen your risk of getting it. If you never had shingles or had a bout of them in the past, talk to your healthcare provider about getting the shingles vaccine. If you’ve never had chickenpox, talk with your healthcare provider about getting the chickenpox vaccine.
Is shingles dangerous or even fatal?
If shingles involves the eye, it can lead to blindness. In rare cases, shingles can lead to hearing problems, pneumonia, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and even death.
When is it safe to return to work if I have shingles?
You can return to work when you feel well enough to return AND you are no longer contagious. This means that your blistered rash has dried up and scabbed over. This usually takes up to 10 days from the time the rash first appears.
Why doesn’t having chickenpox earlier in life provide immunity against having shingles later?
After having chickenpox, your body does not rid your system of the virus. Instead, the virus stays in a portion of the spinal nerve root called the dorsal root ganglion. In most people, the virus simply stays there quietly and doesn’t cause problems. Scientists aren’t always sure why the virus gets active again, but they know stress can be a cause.
If I’ve been vaccinated for chickenpox, can I still develop shingles later in life?
Unfortunately, yes, despite being vaccinated for chickenpox, you can still get shingles. No vaccine is 100% protective and the effects of vaccines lessen with time. However, people who get the chickenpox vaccine are significantly less likely to develop shingles later in life compared with people who never received the chickenpox vaccine. One recent 12-year study found that the number of shingles cases was 72% lower in children who had received the chickenpox vaccine compared with those who did not.
Can I get shingles if I haven’t had chickenpox?
No. You can’t get shingles if you’ve never had chickenpox, but you can get chickenpox from someone who has shingles. If you’ve never had chickenpox and you come into direct contact with the oozing, blister-like rash of someone with shingles, the varicella-zoster virus can infect you and you would develop chickenpox.
Once you’ve had chickenpox, you could develop shingles at some point in your life. This is because the varicella-zoster virus never fully goes away after you’ve had chickenpox. It lies quietly “inactive” in your nerve tissue. Later in life, the virus may become active again and appears as shingles.
If I’ve had chickenpox once in my life can I get it again?
It’s rare to get chickenpox twice in your life. Once you’ve had chickenpox, you’re usually immune to it for the rest of your life. However, it’s not totally impossible. If you have a severely weakened immune system (because you’ve had an organ transplant, HIV, or cancer, for example), you can get chickenpox a second time. If you’ve had chickenpox, you are more likely to get shingles at some point in your life than a repeat bout of chickenpox.
Are there natural ways to boost the immune system to help lessen the chances of developing shingles?
Stress is a risk factor for developing shingles. So limiting your stress can be helpful. Try meditation, yoga or other relaxation methods. Eat healthy, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, get seven to nine hours of sleep each night, don’t smoke – these are all good living tips, not just for reducing your chance of getting shingles, but also many other diseases and health conditions too.
What is the difference between herpes zoster and varicella zoster?
Herpes zoster is simply another medical name for shingles. Varicella zoster is the virus that causes both shingles and chickenpox.
Measles and shingles both produce a rash. Are these diseases related?
Although both diseases produce a rash, measles and shingles are completely different and unrelated diseases. Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus and measles is caused by the rubeola virus.
Stress, COVID-19 & Shingles – Water’s Edge Counseling
2020 has been a stressful year for most Americans. In March, we endured the onset of a national pandemic that continues to affect all of our daily lives in some way. Many of us have lost loved ones, experienced job losses, juggled working from home and “virtually schooling” our children, and dealt with the worry and stress of contracting or spreading COVID-19. Perhaps your daily life doesn’t look as drastically different as some people’s, but the worry, stress, and upheaval caused by COVID-19 has been enough to put you over the edge.
The demands and hardships of life were stressful enough before COVID-19, but adding COVID-19 to the mix has really thrown us for a loop. All of the added stress that we are dealing with is having a toll on the mental health and physical health of Americans. Stress affects our bodies in many different ways, and one of those ways is its adverse effect on our immune system. Stress weakens the body’s immune system, which can put us at greater risk for a variety of health issues. One of the side effects we’re seeing lately is a connection between stress, COVID-19 & Shingles.
What is the Shingles virus?
One of the viruses brought on by a weakened immune system is the Shingles, or Herpes Zoster, virus. Over the past months of the COVID-19 pandemic, health professionals are seeing an increase in the number of Shingles cases in our country. Shingles is a common viral infection. It causes a painful rash, that blisters, and usually spreads on just one side of the body. Anyone who has had the Chickenpox virus is at risk for developing Shingles, as this virus lays dormant in the body and then resurfaces as the Shingles virus at a later point in life. Shingles can occur at any age, but it generally affects older adults. However, there has been an increase of Shingles cases in young people in their 30’s and 40’s since the onset of the pandemic.
What is causing the rise in cases of Shingles? How is it related to COVID-19?
So, what is causing this uptick in the number of Shingles cases in our country? Many experts believe that it is due to the excess stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Research has shown that depression, sleep disturbances, stressful life events, and psychological disturbances can put someone at a greater risk for developing Shingles. If stress is a trigger for the Shingles virus, what can we do to reduce stress in our bodies? Here are 3 tips:
Tips to Reduce Stress in our Bodies
- Exercise at least 3 times/week: Exercise has a huge effect on our physical and mental health. It helps to release “feel good” endorphins in our bodies, which improve our emotional state and help us to feel less stressed. It also is a physical release for pent up anxiety that we may have. Exercise also keeps our bodies tuned up and physically healthy, improving our heart, lung, and brain function. It is one of the best things you can do to reduce stress in your life and keep your body healthy.
- Connect with your support system: None of us were made to go through life alone, which is why this pandemic has been so hard for so many of us. We miss the physical touch of hugs, dining with friends in restaurants, and large family gatherings. Even though we miss these things, we can find other ways to connect with people. Gathering outdoors with friends and family is a perfect way to stay connected and still socially distance. Maybe walking with a friend a few times of week, gives you the support and social interaction that you need. Find those friends that encourage you and support you, and make it a point to regularly connect with them. Maybe you can’t do the same activities that you used to do together, but do not forsake being with the people whom you love and care about. We need each other!
- Journal: If you have never tried journaling, now is a good time to start. Get out a pen and notebook, and just start writing; and, if you prefer a digital journal, that is great too. We often do not even know how we are actually feeling until we begin to write those feelings out. As we’re writing and getting our thoughts out on paper, our brains are able to more fully process our emotions and thoughts. You will be amazed at how writing out your thoughts and feelings releases some of the stress that you are feeling. Give it a try!
These are hard and stressful times, and we all need to do whatever we can to reduce our stress levels and stay as connected and supported as we can. Our physical and mental health depend on it! If you find that your physical or mental health is suffering due to the stress of COVID-19, please reach out to us at Waters Edge Counseling. We are here to help you, and we now provide a way for you to schedule an appointment online. Or, as always, just give us a call at 912-319-5552!
Stress a factor in shingles for people younger than age 50
A red mark seemed like a bug bite two summers ago, so Kendra Jones dismissed the painful spot on her back. When it spread and the pain worsened, a doctor’s diagnosis surprised Jones, then 35. She had shingles.
“I went through this feeling of shock and disbelief because I was under the impression that was something that people who are older experienced,” said Jones. “I also asked a lot of questions about how it happened, and it came down to stress.”
At the time, she was planning an international trip, working more and putting in extra hours for a nonprofit. “I keep myself really busy. Even though I like my life to be like that, I think sometimes my body doesn’t.”
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. Shingles symptoms include pain, itching or tingling of the skin, followed by a painful rash of blister-like sores. The condition occurs more commonly in people much older because the body’s immune system weakens with age.
If you’ve had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue. Many years later, the virus can reactivate as shingles, which happens for about 1 in 3 people in the U.S. A newer shingles vaccine is recommended only for people at ages 50 and older.
A family medicine doctor at MultiCare Rockwood Quail Run Clinic, Dr. Gretchen LaSalle said she sees shingles in patients younger than 50. Rates in that population have risen since the 1940s, she said. Doctors have a few theories about why.
“Stress is thought to be a pretty big contributor,” LaSalle said, with either physical or emotional stress on the body – along with rising levels of the stress hormone cortisol – that can cause our immune system to weaken, she added.
“Our world is stressful, our jobs are stressful, and many of us don’t get enough sleep. We are glued to our technology. We’re missing out on that human connection and positive relationships that increase our well-being and decrease stress.”
Other factors include smoking, heavy alcohol consumption and not eating right, she said. Another theory is that people are living longer with cancer, HIV and other conditions that suppress the immune system, and they’re diagnosed younger. They are at higher risk for shingles.
LaSalle wrote a newly published book that is a clinicians’ guide to vaccines and vaccine hesitancy. She said another theory about shingles in younger people considers possible effects since chickenpox vaccinations started in 1996.
“For people who had chickenpox, it’s thought that adults get some benefit from being re-exposed to kids who have chickenpox,” she said. “It’s sort of a little immune booster.”
“The theory is now that we vaccinate and kids aren’t getting chickenpox, the adults aren’t getting that little boost in their immune system, but that doesn’t account for the rise we’ve seen since the ’40s because the chickenpox vaccine wasn’t out until 1996.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites more cases of shingles for people ages 50 to 59 and some rise in the 30-49 category. “This trend continues among younger and middle-aged adults,” the agency says.
What to look for
Usually before the rash, symptoms can be anything from tingling and itching to burning, LaSalle said. It’s usually along a nerve root and on half the body, so on one side of the face, abdomen or down one leg.
Several days later, a rash appears as a cluster of blisters usually in a linear pattern. Look for a stripe across the belly, down a leg or an arm, LaSalle said, and don’t delay seeing a doctor. If shingles occurs, patients are given anti-viral medicines that are best to start as soon as possible after the rash appears, LaSalle said.
“The thing we really worry about is not so much the rash. That will go away,” she said. “About 10%-18% of people who get shingles will have nerve pain that comes with shingles that will linger for years or for the rest of their lives. It’s called postherpetic neuralgia.”
“We want to prevent that lingering nerve pain from happening, so if you start the anti-virals early, then it shortens the course and decreases the chance that you’ll have that lingering pain.”
It’s rare, but some people don’t develop the rash, LaSalle said. That happened for Holly Elmer, 52. She had a painful bump in January 2018 that spread on one side of her head. It was repeatedly misdiagnosed until she heard about shingles without an outbreak.
Elmer thinks stress was a factor. “I’m normally a healthy person, but I happened to wear myself out restoring two houses,” said Elmer, adding that she has lingering nerve problems and tinnitus.
If you’re 50 or older, LaSalle recommends getting the Shingrix shingles vaccine, a two-shot series. After its approval in fall 2017, the manufacturer didn’t anticipate the high demand during 2018, and supplies were used up.
“Shingrix is still hard to find,” LaSalle said. “It’s kind of been on back order ever since. I think some of the pharmacies because they have national buying power are having some better luck getting it than the local clinics.”
You can get Shingrix even if you don’t remember having chickenpox. Studies show more than 99% of Americans ages 40 and older have had chickenpox even if they don’t remember.
Some patients mistakenly think because they’ve had shingles, they don’t need the vaccine. That’s not true, LaSalle said, because shingles can reoccur.
People need to go back for the second Shingrix shot two to six months after the first for maximum protection. After the two shots, Shingrix provides more than 90% protection against shingles. That protection stays above 85% for at least the first four years after you get vaccinated, the CDC says.
Most people get a sore arm with some pain after getting vaccinated. About 1 in 6 people have a strong reaction to this vaccine, LaSalle said, such as fever and aches for two to three days that prevent regular activities, then symptoms go away. If you’re younger than 50, then what?
“Other than clean, healthy living and trying to minimize stress in our world, I think just try to be healthy and do things that are stress-relieving and health-promoting,” she said.
Try for adequate sleep, regular exercise and outside time for fresh air and walks. Being in nature relieves stress, LaSalle added. For Jones, she improved after a doctor prescribed anti-viral medications, but she ended up with shingles a second time.
A few months after her first outbreak, a tingling returned to the same area. Her doctor’s office said because shingles affects the nerves, she’d likely have those sensations for up to a year.
“Then a year later, I felt that pain again, and it was real,” Jones said. “It’s incredibly frustrating because the (shingles) vaccine is not covered for people who are under 50.”
But Jones has made lifestyle changes to reduce stress. She joined the YMCA and does yoga.
“I joined a leadership development program, so I’ve learned a lot of tools about how to re-steer my train of thought if I’m kind of tending toward negative thoughts. And I reserve one night a week for myself to do whatever I want to do.
“Just those few small changes have really helped with my stress level. I’m really hoping that makes an impact in my life as far as stress and shingles.”
COVID-19 and Herpes Zoster
One area of concern is the effect of coronavirus-related stress on the human body. Common stressors include fear of contracting the virus or losing loved ones to it, sheltering at home, sudden job loss, caring for children who would normally be in daycare or school, and overall uncertainty about the future. Will this stress contribute to a spike in other health issues, including herpes zoster (HZ)?
The CDC acknowledges that the COVID-19 outbreak may be stressful for individuals, and that “fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children.”1
While noting that people react differently to stressful situations based on their personalities, backgrounds, and communities, the CDC identifies populations that are most vulnerable. “People at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults, and people with underlying health conditions are also at increased risk of stress due to COVID-19,” it states.1
In fact, the elderly, individuals with chronic health conditions like diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease, and the immunocompromised have long been known to be at greater risk for developing shingles. Psychological distress, sleep disturbance, and depression-all states associated with COVID-19- are among acknowledged triggers that cause the varicella zoster virus to reactivate into shingles.
Research into the psychological antecedents of HZ published in the journal Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience concluded that stress, stressful life events, and depression may partially contribute to outbreaks of shingles.2
“When psychological influences are present, they are likely to exert their deleterious impact through effects on immunity,” report coauthors Randy A. Sansone, MD, and Lori A. Sansone, MD.2 “For example, studies have found that age, nutrition, and depressive symptoms can lower an individual’s immunity.”
CNN recently reported that dermatologists it contacted said that they have received an increasing number of telehealth calls on several stress-related skin conditions, including shingles, since the pandemic was announced. Stress can also prolong a patient’s discomfort, lead to lingering complications like postherpetic neuralgia and postherpetic itch, weaken the immune system, and delay full recovery. 3
Besides suggesting stress management techniques, health care providers can counsel patients on ways to lessen their chances of developing shingles beyond the pandemic. The best option they can recommend is vaccination. Although there is no effective COVID-19 vaccine yet, there is effective vaccination against shingles.
1. CDC. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Coping with Stress. Page last reviewed: April 30, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html.
2. Sansone RA, Sansone LA. Herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia: an examination of psychological antecedents. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience. 2014.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4140624/pdf/icns_11_5-6_31.pdf
3. LaMotte S. From migraines to asthma to shingles: The physical toll coronavirus-related stress takes on your body and how to combat it. CNN; May 14, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/14/health/stress-coronavirus-physical-impact-wellness/index. html.
Shingles, the unexpected health issue of Covid-19 stress! – North Shore Mums
Been stressed out by the Covid-19 pandemic? You’re not alone. One of the side effects that this North Shore Mum wasn’t expecting was shingles. If you’ve had chicken pox, the virus lays dormant in your body, and can be reactivated later by stress. Rachel shares her shingles experience…
Like many other stressed-out mums, it was the day I’d been waiting for… the return of children to school, full time. Although I know some people loved the online learning experience with their children (see our survey results), I wasn’t one of them. Working from home whilst trying to motivate my kids to get through their daily assignments and follow the school curriculum, pushed me to my emotional limits. I found myself feeling frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, stressed and often defeated.
So when Monday 25 May came along, my Year 5 and Year 3 daughters skipped through the school gates, delighted to be reunited with their friends and their wonderful teachers.
Meanwhile, I headed to the GP, to get the skin on my face examined. Since the Friday, I’d noticed some small red marks on my forehead. I thought that I’d perhaps been bitten by a spider in my sleep, but when the area got bigger and started swelling underneath and around my ear, I knew I needed to get it looked at by a GP.
“Shingles!” he said, without hesitation. He took a swab of the area for confirmation, but said it was almost definitely shingles. It was the fourth day since I’d noticed the red rash, and I was prescribed some antivirals to hopefully bring it under control.
I must admit, I was pretty surprised to be diagnosed with shingles. I’d only really heard about it happening in elderly people, so it just wasn’t on my radar. Aside from taking the prescribed anti-viral medication and pain killers, I didn’t know what I could do to help it. Fortunately a friend sent me a very helpful text:
Just heard you’re sick with shingles. So sorry to hear. You have to stop completely and rest. I had it quite bad two years ago and I didn’t rest and made myself really ill. So rest up in bed for a few days if you can (absolutely no walking or exercising whatsoever) – it’s really important with shingles to do that even if you don’t feel that bad. Sending you a huge hug.
So I took her excellent advice, and spent the next few days in bed catching up on Netflix and Stan (a real treat, actually!). The kids were back at school and my hubby was still working from home, so could help out with all the drop off and pick ups.
Got a rash? See your doctor ASAP
The best way to avoid getting shingles, is to look at reducing stress in your life. But for busy mums, this is much easier said than done, right? Exercise, meditate, do yoga, pilates, take some time out for yourself… we all know we need to prioritise our own needs, but sometimes it can just seem so hard to find the time. And the stress compounds!
If you develop any kind of rash, it’s important to see your Doctor ASAP to get it checked out. With shingles, you ideally need to start antiviral medication within three days for it to have a good impact. I was diagnosed on Day 4, but luckily it did seem to kick in…
As the swelling was so close to my eye, I also visited an optometrist to check that the virus hadn’t spread to the cornea. Frighteningly, it can actually cause blindness if it enters the eye! Thank goodness it didn’t reach there.
Support from North Shore Mums
By the Wednesday, I felt brave enough to share my Shingles story on our North Shore Mums Instagram page. By this stage, the swelling had moved to my right eye – so much so, that I could hardly open it for three days. It not only looked horrendous, but I was also really worried about the infection moving into my eye – as it can actually cause blindness. It was so lovely to not only get lovely messages of support and ‘get well’, but also I also got lots of private messages from mums who had experienced shingles recently, or knew someone who was. Turns out shingles are on the rise for mums.
- ‘Omg the worst. I had it last year. It literally took over the whole left side of my face. My nose is actually scarred! Hope you feel better soon’ – Ange
- ‘Sending love and a speedy recovery. I had shingles 2 years ago … take care of yourself and rest rest rest xx’ – oliviarealestatemum
- ‘Shingles sounds terrible… one of my customers was suffering a year or so ago… luckily I mentioned it to my Doctor, who arranged for me to have the shot. So pleased with that protection.’ – trendinteriorslindfield
- ‘That’s not fun 🙁 mums there is a vaccine for shingles now my mum highly recommended to me (and I got) because she’s had shingles twice and it is incredibly painful wishing you a fast recovery Rachel!’ – watersidebistrosydney
- ‘I had it on my neck in my 20s! It was horrific as my clothes rubbed onto and hurt like hell! It took a few weeks at least to recover. Regular pain meds and lots of rest. I think it was some of the worst pain I have ever experienced and I have three kids too’ – Jenna
How you can avoid shingles…
Shingles is much more common in elderly people, but given the huge amount of stress that we’ve all been under recently, it’s something that is coming up much more with younger people in their 30s and 40s. In fact, Dr Corina Vidgen from Myheatlh Castle Towers reported,
“Over the COVID isolation period, I saw several young people with shingles. This is unprecedented in my medical practice, as a GP for over 12 years.” – Dr Corina Vidgen
Aside from lots of rest, no exercise, lots of water and the prescribed antiviral medication, I also visited an incredible Chinese Acupuncturist and Herbalist, who I really believe had a significant impact on the reduction of symptoms. I went to see him on the Thursday (a morning where I couldn’t even open my eye due to the swelling) – and by the Sunday, the swelling had almost completely gone down. And I didn’t develop any more rashes after visiting him.
Besides looking at ways as to how you can manage stress in your life, the best option for preventing shingles in though the vaccine. Although there is no effective COVID-19 vaccine yet, there is effective vaccination against shingles. It’s free for people over 70, but you can certainly talk to your GP to see if they would recommend you have it.
How I’m feeling now…
Three weeks on, and I’m feeling a million times better. There’s still a bit of a scab where the rash was and it’s feels quite numb around the area, but overall I think I’ve managed to come out of it quite well. Some people can suffer with it for months, and it can also reoccur multiple times. I really hope not!
Sometimes when I feel my stress levels increasing, I can actually feel tingling in my scalp. It’s a good reminder to take a few deep breaths and try to calm down.
Next time I get a rash or bite like this, I’ll get to the doctor straight away.
To get the latest facts about shingles, we spoke to Dr Corina Vidgen, who is a General Practitioner at Myhealth Castle Towers, Castle Hill. You can also visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.
What is shingles?
Shingles (Herpes Zoster) is caused by a reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox. Usually occurs in adulthood, many years after the initial chicken pox infection, and develops more often in people who are immunosuppressed. After having a bout of chicken pox, the virus lays dormant in the spinal cord and when it reactivates, it does so from a particular segment of the spinal cord giving rise to symptoms and rash in a given dermatomal distribution that corresponds to the level of spinal cord affected.
What are the first signs of shingles?
The illness is characterised by a painful chickenpox-like rash on a small area of skin, usually on one side of the body. The rash is often preceded by a dull aching pain, or a burning sensation over the area of the body that the virus is affecting. Pain and tingling associated with the rash may persist for weeks or months after the rash has cleared. This is called post-herpetic neuralgia. There are certain medications that can be prescribed by your GP that can help minimise this pain.
How is shingles treated?
Shingles can be treated with special antiviral drugs such as acyclovir. Your general practitioner can advise on ways to minimise the discomfort associated with the symptoms of infection. It is important that the anti viral medication is commenced as soon as possible after the rash develops. This can help decrease the likelihood of post-herpetic neuralgia.
If you’re diagnosed with shingles, what should you do?
If you suspect you have shingles, you should seek medical attention by your GP as soon as possible. Avoid applying any creams or ointments to the blistering rash. The virus can be spread by direct contact with the skin rash of infected people. This causes chickenpox in people who are not immune. It is therefore important to avoid exposing anyone to the rash – keep it covered if possible and avoid touching it as the virus can be transferred by direct contact.
Most of our readers are in their 30s and 40s. Is shingles something they should be aware of?
Shingles is more common in the elderly and immunosuppressed people. However, it can occur in younger people, particularly at times of intense stress (physical and psychological).
Over the COVID isolation period, I saw several young people with shingles and this is unprecedented in my medical practice as a GP for over 12 years.
It is a condition worth being aware of, as early treatment is associated with the best outcomes.
Can you tell us about the shingles vaccine?
- Adults 71-79 years of age are eligible for free vaccine under a catch up program until 31 October 2021. A single dose of zoster vaccine is recommended and funded for adults at 70 years of age.
- Adults aged 60–69 years are also recommended to have a single dose of zoster vaccine but this is not funded. The exact duration of vaccine efficacy is not known but protection does wane over time. The need for revaccination is not yet determined.
- Adults under 59 years are not routinely recommended to receive zoster vaccine, but they can receive it if they want to protect themselves against Shingles.
The cost varies depending on the pharmacy. It’s approximately $200 to buy on private script.
Find out more about the shingles vaccine.
More health advice
Public Health Fact Sheet
What is Shingles?
Shingles is a painful rash that develops on one side of the face or body. Shingles
(herpes zoster) is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Stress, trauma, sunlight, immunosuppression and advancing age can cause reactivation of the virus and produce shingles. Shingles can occur at any age, but is more prevalent in the elderly and immunocompromised individuals.
How is Shingles spread?
Anyone who has had chickenpox in the past can develop shingles. Shingles cannot be passed from one person to another. However, the virus that causes Shingles (varicella-zoster) can be passed from a person with active Shingles and cause chickenpox in a person who has never had chickenpox or has never been vaccinated against chickenpox. The virus can be spread by direct contact with the fluid from the fluid-filled blisters or indirect contact with articles soiled by fluid from blisters.
How long is a person contagious?
A person is contagious during the blister phase of the disease. They are no longer contagious once the blisters have scabbed over. The blisters usually scab over in 7-10 days and are completely gone in 2-4 weeks.
How is Shingles treated?
Antiviral medications can shorten the duration and severity of symptoms and pain of Shingles. These medicines are more affective if taken as soon as possible once the rash appears.
How can Shingles be prevented?
A shingles vaccine is recommended for persons 50 and older. Several precautions can be taken to prevent the spread of the virus. Cover draining blisters with a protective dressing. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after contact with the blisters, dressings, or clothing. Disinfect and wash clothing and surfaces after contact with the fluid from blisters.
Additional information is available on the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/shingles/
Symptoms of Shingles
- Chills, fever, fatigue and gastrointestinal disturbance may be present 3-5 days before rash develops
- Numbness, itching and severe pain on one side of your body followed by clusters of blister-like lesions typically on one side of the face or body
- A rash occurs in chickenpox-like crops, most often on the chest and waist area and spreads in a line-like pattern
- The rash changes to fluid-filled blisters called vesicles 1-2 days later
- Deep pain in the rash area due to inflammation of the nerves
Shingles: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment
Many people are familiar with chicken pox from a young age, but did you know the same virus can lie dormant and reappear years later? This condition, known as shingles, is a common viral infection often accompanied by a painful rash. While the shingles vaccine and early treatment can help prevent or shorten an infection, one out of every three people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime. Despite some pain and discomfort, shingles symptoms are rarely life-threatening, though it’s important to be mindful of potential serious complications and to know when to get help.
What Is Shingles?
Shingles is a viral infection caused when the dormant varicella zoster virus, the chicken pox virus, reactivates, causing blistering skin and painful rashes. Shingles is a common condition that affects about 1,000,000 people in the United States each year. Although the varicella zoster virus belongs to a group known as herpes viruses, shingles and its symptoms are not the same as cold sores or genital herpes.
Chat with a doctor and get shingles treatment for just $23
Causes of Shingles
Shingles can affect anyone who has previously had chicken pox, even decades later. After recovering from chicken pox, the varicella zoster virus (VZV) lies inactive in your nerve tissue, remaining harmless and non-contagious in most adults. Shingles can develop when the virus becomes active again.
We aren’t sure exactly what causes the shingles virus to become active again, although a weakened immune system, such as during periods of stress or illness, is a major risk factor. When reactivated, the varicella zoster virus irritates a specific sensory nerve ganglion and the area of skin that it supplies, resulting in painful symptoms that usually resolve within four to six weeks.
Is shingles contagious?
Yes and no. If you have shingles, you can pass the varicella zoster virus to people who are not immune to chicken pox if they have direct contact with your shingles rash. However, if you do pass the virus to someone else, they’re only at risk of catching chicken pox—not shingles. According to the CDC, once your shingles rash passes the blister phase and begins to scab, you’re no longer contagious.
Shingles and stress
While stress doesn’t cause shingles, it can make you more susceptible. During periods of stress, your body’s immune system weakens, in turn putting you at higher risk for developing shingles. If you also have an underlying immune condition or a chronic illness, periods of intense stress, such as the death of a loved one, difficulty at work, or other high-stress situations, can trigger the dormant varicella zoster virus to reactivate.
Symptoms of Shingles
Early symptoms of shingles include:
- Nerve pain: Often described as burning, numbness, or tingling. This pain sometimes appears several days before the rash starts.
- A red, painful rash: Typically appearing as fluid-filled blisters on one side or section of the face or body.
- Fever, headache, or chills
As with many viral infections, some people can experience more serious shingles symptoms:
- Loss of vision: Caused by shingles on the face or in and around the eyes.
- Long-term nerve pain: A condition that can last months or years after the rash subsides.
- Painful, widespread rash: People with weakened immune systems often see their shingles rash spread beyond one part of the body.
Shingles can often be diagnosed based on the location and appearance of common symptoms. Your doctor will examine the rash and may also take a sample or culture from your blisters for further testing if the diagnosis is uncertain. Once the diagnosis of shingles is confirmed, your doctor will prescribe the appropriate treatment.
Risk Factors and Complications
If you’ve had chicken pox, you are at risk of getting shingles someday. Although anyone who has had chicken pox can get shingles, people with the highest risk include:
- Individuals over the age of 50
- Those taking steroids or other immunosuppressive medications
- Those with compromised immune systems or existing autoimmune conditions
If you’re in this high-risk category, you’re also more likely to experience postherpetic neuralgia—a form of long-term nerve pain affecting 10-18% of people who develop shingles—as well as subsequent pneumonia, meningitis, and neurological problems.
A shingles rash can also lead to bacterial skin infections, scars, and even depression due to pain. As with any illness, it’s important to be observant and vocal about your symptoms in order to stay on top of any possible complications.
How to Treat Shingles
In order to treat shingles, your doctor will likely prescribe antiviral medication—such as acyclovir (Zovirax) or valacyclovir (Valtrex)—to shorten the duration of the illness. Your doctor will also likely prescribe steroids, which, when taken early on in the illness, can help prevent long-term nerve pain. Additional medications can be taken for pain relief, including:
- A capsaicin topical patch or cream
- Topical numbing agents such as lidocaine
- Antiepileptics such as gabapentin (which also relieve pain)
- Codeine and other narcotics
What you can do at home
Along with your doctor’s recommendations, there are a few things you can try to soothe shingles symptoms and reduce pain or itchiness, including:
- Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- Applying a cool, wet compress to the affected area
- Applying calamine lotion directly on the rash
- Taking an oatmeal bath
- Wearing comfortable, loose-fitting clothing
Chat with a doctor and get shingles treatment for just $23
The best way to prevent shingles is to get the shingles vaccine. The vaccine can reduce your chances of getting shingles by 90%. These shots can occasionally cause temporary, sometimes painful, side effects, but they’re unlikely to be as severe as a case of shingles.
If you’re a healthy adult over the age of 50, you should strongly consider getting the shingles vaccine. The most common form of the vaccination, Shingrix, is a two-dose injection. You receive one dose, typically injected into your upper arm, and then a second dose 2-6 months later.
Luckily, those who do develop shingles typically only experience it once. However, it is possible to develop shingles two or more times. Even if you’ve had shingles before, you can get the shingles vaccine in order to significantly reduce your risk for getting shingles again.
When to See a Doctor
Antiviral medications work best if you start taking them right after your symptoms appear, so I recommend chatting with a doctor as quickly as possible. The sooner you’re treated, the lower your risk for long-term pain—plus, your doctor can help you get vaccinated to prevent the varicella zoster virus from reactivating again in the future.
You should also contact your doctor if:
- You’re over the age of 60, because you may be more likely to experience shingles-related complications
- Your shingles rash is near your eyes, putting you at a higher risk of eye infection and potentially permanent eye damage
- You have a compromised or weakened immune system, or an underlying chronic illness
How K Health Can Help
Did you know you can get affordable primary care with the K Health app? Download K to check your symptoms, explore conditions and treatments, and if needed text with a doctor in minutes. K Health’s AI-powered app is HIPAA compliant and based on 20 years of clinical data.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
SBS Language | Shingles affects tens of thousands of Australians, but early signs of the disease are often overlooked
TRANSCRIPT. You can listen to the audio in the player at the top of the page.
Maxine Evans was returning home from family vacation when she had back pain for no reason.
She asked her children to see what it was when they got home, and they noticed a couple of small spots that began to itch.
But that was only the beginning of her test.
“I felt really bad at the weekend, I got a very high temperature. I didn’t know what it was and thought I was just not feeling well until I showed the spots on my girlfriend’s chest. She is a nurse and immediately told me:” You have shingles””.
Maxine Evans says she was initially shocked as she was 55 at the time.
“I thought shingles only happened in very old people, and I didn’t even know it was caused by the chickenpox virus. So when they told me I had shingles, I thought I was not that old. But they said, “It doesn’t matter.”
Professor Robert Boy is an infectious disease specialist at the University of Sydney.
Shingles affects at least 120,000 Australians every year and is most common in people over 50, he said. or people with weakened immune systems.
“The risk increases significantly after age 50, and even more so after 60, 70 and 80 years.If you’re in your 80s, you have a 50 percent risk of getting this, so it’s a fairly common condition. And in my opinion, if you live to be 100 years old, you have a 100% risk of getting it. “
Professor Boy says that shingles is an infection that manifests itself in childhood as chickenpox.
” Then the virus it can hide in your nervous system, either in the spinal cord or in the back of your brain, and it can come back decades later when you have a problem like you’re stressed or have another infection that weakens your immune system. “
He says the typical symptoms are as follows:
“You may have an itchy part of your body, and then a small red rash appears, which then turns into blisters that look like pimples. These blisters can be very itchy and very painful. You may also feel tired, but a rash is a sure sign that you have shingles. ”
Maxine Evans says her shingles pain was excruciating.
“I can describe it as being a Voodoo doll, like a hot, stabbing knife is constantly being stuck in you, and it just goes on and on and on and on and never ends.”
Professor Robert Boy says that, as with many viral diseases, the sooner shingles is found, the more effective treatment can be.
“If you find this earlier and contact your GP, they will examine you, determine the severity and choose the appropriate treatment, and there are also analgesics, pain relievers that can greatly alleviate the condition.”
But he says getting antiviral treatment for shingles doesn’t guarantee you won’t have long-term consequences.
“Most people recover fairly well, but a minority, 25 or 30 percent, may have ongoing effects for at least three months, especially painful and this can lead to depression, and people can actually live on antidepressants and pain medications due to unbearable pain. ”
Maxine Evans is one such patient.
She is now living with postherpetic neuralgia, a disease that affects nerve fibers and skin, causing chronic pain.
“It’s just exhausting. You get to the point where you don’t want to go out because even your clothes hurt, and, for example, you decide to go to some family event, and when you come, you feel so tired and plus this shooting pain. People simply cannot understand where you have such a problem. It feels like you shock people and it makes them even sadder. ”
Ms Evans says she tried to take pain relievers, but the side effects she experienced were so unbearable that she had to stop taking them after about two weeks.
“I’m still happy, but I used to be such a bright person. I worked, I can’t work now. And that really influenced me a lot.”
Professor Robert Boy recalls that prevention is better than cure.
“ There is a chickenpox vaccine for babies and children, it is very effective. And once you get this vaccine as a child, your chances of getting shingles are likely to decrease, but there is a special vaccine for people aged 50 and over. shingles, which you can access through your GP. “
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Acne on the body
Acne on the body bothers people less than acne on the face. However, if the person is experiencing itching or pain, the problem needs to be addressed immediately. Only a qualified dermatologist can make the correct diagnosis and prescribe an effective treatment.
Causes of acne on the body
Skin rashes can be the result of an improper lifestyle – the abuse of sweet, fatty, spicy, salty foods, as well as alcohol. Among the most common reasons are:
- use of low-quality cosmetics,
- disregard for hygiene rules,
- sedentary lifestyle.
Itchy skin lesions are sometimes associated with insect and parasite bites such as scabies.A rash on the skin may indicate a hormonal imbalance, an allergic reaction, a weakened immune system, and chronic stress.
In addition, acne on the body is often a symptom of serious diseases. Among them:
- atopic dermatitis;
If a rash on the body is accompanied by pain, itching, fever, weakness, consult a doctor immediately.
Localization of acne on the body
It has been established that certain malfunctions in the body cause a rash in certain areas.
- Acne on the back.
Occurs as a reaction to synthetic fabrics, as well as ingredients in washing powder, shower products, and so on. Rashes appear after wearing tight clothing, excessive sun exposure. The reason may be severe sweating, non-compliance with hygiene rules, metabolic disorders, unhealthy diet.
- Acne on the neck.
Lead to suspicion of endocrine or infectious diseases. However, one should not exclude factors such as irritation after shaving or from a scarf, tight collar.
- Acne on the hands.
Large sebaceous glands are located here, so the appearance of blackheads in this area can be caused by their blockage. It occurs due to hormonal disorders, stress, malfunctions of the digestive system.
- Pimples on the elbows.
A rash with flaking and redness of the skin is a symptom of psoriasis. Small but numerous vesicles with watery contents located under the skin suggest eczema. Elbow pimples are typical for people whose hands lie on the table during work: programmers, managers, bartenders, secretaries, and so on. The constant contact of the skin with the surface creates conditions for the development of microorganisms that cause inflammation.
- Pimples on the chest.
Often they are companions of diseases associated with disruption of the pancreas and endocrine glands. They can also indicate problems with the gastrointestinal tract and female reproductive organs.
- Acne on the abdomen.
The causes of skin rashes in this area are varied: prickly heat, shingles, dermatitis of various etiologies, allergies, hormonal imbalance, as well as sexually transmitted diseases.
How to treat acne on the body?
To get rid of the rash, itching, painful sensations, it is necessary to establish the exact cause. This is due to the fact that medicinal substances that can help in one case are completely powerless in another. If Acyclovir is effective for herpes, then corticosteroid ointments are prescribed for eczema, and antihistamines for allergies.
Doctors of the Private Practice Clinic examine the patient using modern diagnostic methods.If necessary, a specialist will connect – a gynecologist, endocrinologist, therapist, and so on.
Treatment is carried out in a complex: the patient receives not only medications, but also cosmetic procedures. We have everything you need for mesotherapy, ozone therapy, and hardware cleaning.
90,000 Spots on the tongue: photos, reasons
Most often, spots on the tongue do not cause any alarm in a person. However, it should be borne in mind that such a phenomenon may indicate serious violations that have arisen in the work of various internal organs.That is why it is so important to discern the emerging formations in a timely manner and begin to take the necessary measures.
Spots on the tongue can be of different shapes and colors. They vary in size and area of development. Depending on the color of the zones that have arisen in the language, assumptions about the presence of a latent disease can be made. With the timely elimination of early symptoms, a person can prevent the development of the disease.
Attention to the problem
Very often stains on the tongue (see photo.below) are the “first signs” of failures in the functioning of the human body. But in order to take up effective treatment of pathology, first of all, you need to find out the reasons that provoked this process.
Experts recommend examining the oral cavity regularly. If a person is healthy, then his tongue will have a pink color. A slight whitish bloom is not a pathology.
When should a disease be suspected? The development of pathology will be indicated by a dense layer of plaque, on which spots of various colors will begin to stand out.
Sometimes a whitish coating of the tongue is the result of improper oral care. In these cases, all that is required from a person is the correct cleaning not only of the teeth, but also of the tongue. It is not difficult to get rid of plaque on it even if the problem is the wrong diet.
If spots on the tongue have arisen and are not removed mechanically, the reasons for such formations should be thoroughly analyzed.
As mentioned above, spots that appear on the tongue can be painted in a variety of shades.It is believed that the darker their color, the greater the risk to human health. The severity of the possible pathology can be indicated by the structure of the spot and its location on the tongue.
So, darkening in the tip area most likely indicates that a person needs to be attentive to his heart and blood vessels. A spot that appears in the area immediately after the tip indicates possible lung problems. Education, which has arisen in the center, will warn of failures in the functioning of the spleen.The spots immediately after this area will tell you about kidney disease. Intestinal pathology will be warned by a discoloration of the area closer to the root of the tongue. If a person noticed spots on the side, then he should check the condition of the gallbladder and liver. You will also need to pay attention to the color of these formations.
Red spots in adults
The reasons for their appearance on the tongue can be very different. However, the most common of these is traumatic.Such a reason should not cause serious concern. However, the consequences of injury can be very different, provoking certain negative changes. In addition, a red spot on the tongue of an adult sometimes becomes evidence of pathologies of the body systems. Sometimes it indicates negative changes in the internal organs. Red spots on the tongue (see photo below) can occur when a large number of irritating factors occur.
They are collected by physicians in one list, which includes:
- Allergic reactions.In this case, red spots on the tongue occur due to the body’s improper response to various stimuli. Among them are natural, household, medicinal and food. Such spots are located throughout the tongue. The rate of formation can be very fast or take more than one year.
- Sexually transmitted diseases. Red spots on the tongue are most often one of the symptoms of syphilis. In this case, the formation of ulcers occurs. The area of their localization is the anterior part of the tongue.
- Viruses.The most common disease that causes red spots on the tongue in adults is herpes. At its initial stage, bubbles appear in the oral cavity. Just a few days is enough for their surface to burst. After that, ulcers appear at the sites of localization of the bubbles. Additional symptoms of this viral disease are frequent itching and pain.
- Stomatitis. With this pathology, the oral mucosa is affected. Stomatitis is the cause of the appearance of red spots on the tongue, which have different sizes and locations.Bacteria and viruses contribute to the formation of such formations.
- Gastrointestinal ailments (acid reflux or hypersecretion of the stomach glands, etc.). With such problems, inflammation of the papillae occurs in the tongue. They increase in size, and then red spots appear. A similar symptom occurs after eating sweet, fatty or spicy foods and alcohol, from overeating, as well as from emotional stress and stress.
- Oncology of the oral cavity. At the stage of the formation of the disease, it manifests itself in the form of painless and small in size red spots and ulcers.These formations can be located in any area of the oral cavity, in particular on the tongue. Red sores and spots persist for a long time.
- Pernicious anemia. A similar pathology occurs when there is a lack of vitamin B12 in the body. In addition to red spots on the tongue, the ailment is accompanied by weight loss. In addition, there is confusion, depression, nausea, heartburn.
- Geographic language. A similar phenomenon occurs during the period of teething in infants, with vitamin deficiency and after severe illnesses.
- Herpes zoster. This disease is one of the causes of spots on the tongue in adults (red). In children, this ailment is usually not diagnosed. With shingles, the rash begins to spread throughout the body, with itching, burning, and fever.
Red spots in children
The above etiological factors provoking the formation of the described symptom in adults and children are practically the same. However, in young patients, there are several characteristic pathologies that develop only in early and adolescence.If a similar symptom is found, then it is necessary to find out the causes of the spots on the tongue (as in the photo below). For this, the child must be shown to the pediatrician.
Only after examining it, the true causes of the formations will become clear, which can be:
- Scarlet fever. Mostly children suffer from this pathology. Carriers of the infection that caused scarlet fever are often people with sore throat or infected with streptococcus. During illness, children feel weakness, discomfort in the throat, and shivers.Sometimes a rash appears on the body, and a red coating on the tongue.
- Enterovirus stomatitis. It is a mild pathology. An ailment manifests itself after a child is infected with an enterovirus.
White spots in adults
The reasons for their occurrence are different.
White spots on the tongue in an adult are the result of:
- Stomatitis. With this pathology, spots on the tongue appear not only red, but also white.The borders of the white spot are sharper. And only sometimes they are blurred. The characteristic location of this formation is the back of the tongue, closer to the root.
- Candidiasis (thrush). In this disease, caused by the reproduction of a yeast culture in the oral cavity, white spots appear not only on the tongue. Their area of distribution covers the entire oral cavity. A distinctive feature of such white spots is their surface, which resembles a curd mass.
- Dehydration. In this state of the body, the spots merge, forming a whitish bloom, which causes a feeling of dryness in a person.
- Lichen planus. This pathology is also one of the reasons for the appearance of white spots on the tongue. Lichen planus is a possible complication of hepatitis C. In the future, there is a risk of its transformation into an oncological disease.
- Cancer of the tongue and mouth. In this case, spots are formed not only on the organ of speech, but also on the mucous membrane of the cheeks and throat, as well as on the gums. Over time, such formations merge into a plaque that has a rim and is located near the root of the tongue.
- HIV.White spots on the tongue are one of the first symptoms of this formidable pathology.
- Colds. With hypothermia of the body and the manifestation of symptoms of intoxication on the tongue, white spots with a pink edging may appear.
- Wearing braces. Their incorrect setting causes trauma to the mucous membrane and leads to the formation of white spots. In the future, such foci can develop into ulcers and contribute to the development of benign and malignant tumors.
White spots in children
Changes in the color of a child’s tongue often cause panic in parents.However, first of all, moms and dads need to calm down and carefully study the localization and nature of the formations. If this is not a plaque that has accumulated on the surface from particles of the epithelium and food debris, which is removed using conventional hygienic procedures, then a comprehensive consultation with a pediatrician will be required. The cause of these symptoms may be:
- Thrush. With this pathology, white plaque covers the entire oral cavity of the child.
- Stomatitis.This ailment causes the appearance of spots on the mucous membrane and on the tongue. It is caused, as a rule, by a lack of vitamins in a growing body.
- Leukoplakia. With this pathology, the formation of inflammatory foci, represented by flat growths, occurs in the tongue. The development of this ailment is facilitated by microtrauma to the surface of the tongue, which the child applies with his teeth.
Yellow spots in adults
A number of reasons affect the appearance of plaque foci of this color.
- Failures in the functioning of the digestive tract.If spots of a yellowish-gray or saturated yellow hue appear on the tongue, and a repulsive smell is felt from the oral cavity, then such manifestations should alert the person. When combined with nausea, this can be a sign of a wide variety of gastric dysfunctions. With the development of pathology in its most recent stages, yellow spots acquire an admixture of a brown tint. At the same time, an unpleasant aftertaste appears in the patient’s mouth, and attacks of nausea begin to torment him.
- Dysfunction in the liver and pancreas.Such pathologies cause the appearance of yellow spots on the tongue with an admixture of green shades. Such symptoms, combined with the taste of iron in the mouth, indicate that the body has malfunctions with bile secretion.
- Inflammatory processes. With colds and flu, dark yellow spots may appear on the tongue.
- Smoking. If a person did not part with a cigarette for a long period, then dark yellow spots on his tongue could arise as a result of staining the surface with nicotine.
- Necrosis. Yellow spots on the tongue in this case are the result of necrosis of the tissues of this organ.
- Cancer. A similar pathology occurs in connection with the manifestation of a hereditary factor, smoking or frequent damage to the organ of speech.
Yellow spots in children
The tongue of small patients is sometimes covered with similar formations due to:
- diseases of the gastrointestinal tract; 90,099 90,098 infections in which the body temperature rises;
- disorders of stool and vomiting, provoking the appearance of yellow spots with a brownish tinge;
- infant jaundice;
- stomatitis and carious dental diseases;
- renal failure; 90,099 90,098 immune system failures;
- diabetes mellitus.
Plaque foci of a similar color indicate stagnation of blood. In this case, you must urgently seek help from a doctor. Self-medication for such symptoms is unacceptable.
A similar color indicates problems with the circulatory system. In this case, bleeding of an unknown nature may occur in the mouth. In this case, the help of a specialist is also needed.
This color of spots on the tongue indicates existing problems with the gallbladder or pancreas.
Black plaque can also indicate acidosis, which is an increase in the acidity of the body or its infection with a chromogenic fungus. With an advanced disease, the spots change their black color to dark green.
Desquamative glossitis is the reason for the appearance of such foci on the tongue. This is a very rare disease. Its course causes peeling of the upper layer of the tissue of the tongue, which provokes the appearance of colorless spots. As a rule, this pathology is found in the posterior region of the speech organ.Symptoms of the disease are the loss of sensitivity of this zone to the taste of food.
Colorless spots signal the onset of herpes infection. They also appear in people who have been injured as a result of exposure to chemicals, as well as in patients with pathologies of the gastrointestinal tract, circulatory system, and with hormonal disorders.
Due to the fact that in children and adults, spots on the tongue (see photo below) are far from the only symptom that occurs with the ailments described above, then, first of all, if a problem occurs, you need to seek advice from to the dentist.The doctor, if necessary, will refer the patient for examination to an allergist, immunologist, gastroenterologist and other more narrow specialists.
For the correct diagnosis of pathology, the doctor must conduct a thorough examination of the patient, clarify his complaints and collect an anamnesis of the disease.