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1 in 3 people over 60 will have shingles

What is Shingles?

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you've had chickenpox, the virus stays in your body for the rest of your life. Years later, the virus may reactivate, and this is known as shingles.

Shingles isn't life-threatening - but it can be very painful. Early treatment may shorten a shingles infection and lessen the chance of further complications. The most common complication is postherpetic neuralgia; a painful condition that causes shingles pain for a long time after your blisters have cleared.

What are the symptoms?

Pain is usually the first symptom of shingles. For some people, the pain can be intense. Depending on the location of the pain, it can sometimes be mistaken for problems with the heart, lungs or kidneys. Some people experience shingles pain without ever developing the rash. Most commonly, the shingles rash develops as a stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or right side of the torso. Sometimes the shingles rash occurs around one eye or on one side of the neck or face. Shingles can occur anywhere on your body. LOOK OUT FOR THIS:

  • Pain, burning or tingling

  • Sensitivity to touch

  • A red rash that begins a few days after the pain

  • Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over

  • Itching

What do I do if I think I have shingles?

Contact your GP as soon as possible if you think you have shingles. There's no cure for shingles, but early treatment with prescription of antiviral drugs may speed healing and lower your risk of complications. If you can start treatment within 72 hours you are more likely to benefit. If you have any of the following symptoms contact your GP immediately.

  • Pain and/or rash occur near your eyes. If left untreated, this infection may lead to permanent eye damage.

  • You're 50 or older. Age increases your risk of complications.

  • You or someone in your family has a weakened immune system. This may be due to cancer, medications or chronic illness.

  • The rash is widespread and painful.

What can I do to reduce the risk of getting shingles?

You will be more likely to get shingles (like any other virus) if you are stressed or your immune system is compromised. Ask your GP or practitioner for help if you are unsure whether you are at risk. To reduce the risk of getting shingles look after yourself. Stay healthy.

  • Good sleep

  • Wholesome food

  • Outdoor activities (get some sunlight!)

  • Keep hydrated

  • Have fun

Spread the word! Awareness is key and knowledge is power.

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