Maryanne is a senior. Lately she’s noticed red spots on various parts of her body. Instead of being randomly placed all over her body, the spots appear to be in strips. In previous days she had felt a tingling or itchiness in the same areas. Maryanne thought it might be chicken pox, but she remembered she contracted that as a young child and did not believe she could catch it again. She went to the doctor who diagnosed her with having contracted a virus called shingles. Maryanne had never heard of shingles and decided to ask the doctor for more information.
What are shingles?
Maryanne was partially correct when she thought her condition reminded her of chicken pox. Shingles is an evolution and reoccurrence of chicken pox that usually affects older adults. When one’s first bout with chicken pox ends, its related virus remains in the body laying dormant for some time.
For 33% percent of people in the United States, the virus reactivates after years of inactivity in the form of shingles. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 1 million shingles cases annually across the country. Those who previously had chicken pox are most susceptible to developing shingles, however, seniors who have not had chicken pox are still susceptible to the virus. Instead of shingles, they will develop chicken pox.
Does your senior have shingles?
Home health care providers should be able to recognize the possible signs of shingles in their loved one. Those who have contracted shingles said that early symptoms included burning, itching, or tingling sensations on certain parts of their bodies, with some experiencing numbness. This is followed by the development of a painful rash on one side of the face or body. The rash presents itself as a stripe around the left or right side of the body or face. While the rash is the primary symptom of shingles, others include flu-like symptoms such as fever, headaches, chills, and upset stomach. In extreme case, shingles can cause eye-irritation and loss of vision.
Treating shingles in seniors
Seniors or home health care providers should contact a physician for preventative care, as there are vaccines that lessen the chance of developing shingles. Once contracted there are medications to help manage the symptoms until the virus runs its course.
Other natural treatments to help mediate the symptoms of shingles are:
Wet, cool compress: Apply multiple times daily to rash and blisters to relieve the associated pain. Do not ice an ice pack because the extreme cold may intensify the symptoms.
Cool baths or showers: Cleaning blisters daily will reduce the chances of transmitting the shingles virus to others. Furthermore, the coolness of the water can ease the itchiness or pain. Additives such as colloidal oatmeal or cornstarch can also help with comfort.
Calamine or other lotions: These do not speed up the healing process but can be used to increase the comfort of your senior while managing the symptoms of shingles.
For Home Health Care Services in Atoka TN, please contact the caring staff at Personal Care Services MidSouth today!