Hired Hands Homecare Shares Important Shingles Details Seniors Need to Know
When it comes to odd disease names, the shingles virus tops the list. The name of the disease might cause you to picture someone with rows and rows of roofing materials layered over his skin. In actuality, shingles, also known as the herpes zoster virus, is a very painful rash caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox in younger people. If you’ve ever had the chickenpox, unfortunately you are now at risk for also contracting shingles. Shingles risk increases with age, with a full one-half of adults contracting the shingles virus by the age of 80.
To see what the shingles virus really looks like, take a look at this page of photos from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website. It is estimated that there are a million instances of shingles diagnosed in the U.S. each year. For that reason, it’s highly recommended by the CDC that all adults age 60 and over receive the shingles vaccine, regardless of whether or not they previously contracted chickenpox. Viewing the photos on the CDC website is one way to encourage people to get a shingles vaccine to prevent this unsightly and often quite painful disease.
How do you know if someone has shingles? An older adult may have shingles if he or she developed chickenpox as a child, young adult, or at any time in the past, and now is displaying a rash of liquid-filled blisters on the skin. Usually these blisters appear on one side of the body only, but at times they can be distributed in patches or form a continuous band. The rash ranges from irritating or itchy to extremely painful and typically lasts up to 30 days. For many people, the pain caused by the rash decreases as it begins to heal. Additional symptoms can include fever, headache, nausea and chills.
There are other complications from having had the shingles virus that can also arise. For example, shingles that occurs on the face could affect the person’s eyes and vision. The most common complication of shingles is called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN).PHN is characterized by persistent, lingering pain in the area where the rash once was that can last for weeks, months, and sometimes even years after the rash is gone.
Although a senior can’t pass shingles on to anyone else, the virus can be transmitted to someone who has never had chickenpox, causing that person to come down with the chickenpox virus. The virus spreads through direct contact with the rash blisters’ fluid only, and not through sneezing or coughing; and the person with shingles is not contagious before the blisters appear or after they have crusted over.
At Hired Hands Homecare, we can help to encourage and facilitate proper vaccinations as a part of healthy aging at home. To learn more about our home care services in Marin, Sonoma, Napa counties and the Tri-Valley area, or to schedule a free in-home assessment, contact us online or call us at 866-940-4343.