How to Prevent Shingles

  by Diane Krogsveen, Wellness Nurse at Wesley Homes Lea Hill Educate yourself about Shingles and what you can do to prevent an outbreak. Did you have chicken pox as a child? If you did, you have the shingles virus sleeping (dormant) in your nerve endings. For many the shingles virus will stay dormant, for others it will wake up at some point in your life, usually following an illness or during a stressful time. Shingles symptoms happen in stages and are usually on one side of the body. It starts with a tingling in the affected area that becomes a rash with open blisters. It can be very painful and have additional symptoms including fatigue, fever, headache and confusion. This can last 2 to 4 weeks. Treatment includes antiviral medications as well as pain medication. Skin care includes keeping the area clean and dry and covered if draining. Wearing loose clothing usually is more comfortable. You can’t catch shingles from someone with the shingles but there is a small chance a person with shingles can pass on the chicken pox virus to someone who has never had them. This can only happen with direct contact of the blisters or drainage. Pregnant woman and individuals with a weakened immune system should avoid someone with shingles. Remember to let the wellness nurse know if you have been diagnosed with shingles. It is recommended that people over 60 who have had chicken pox as a child receive the vaccine for shingles. Check with your doctor to see if it is appropriate for you.