What to look out for and what to avoid with shingles

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Here are five ways to maintain your energy as you get older. Rush University recommends 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week, like walking or swimming.

About 30% of Americans will be diagnosed with shingles in their lifetime, but this risk increases the older you get, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Understanding shingles and what to do can help you heal faster if you contract the virus.

ExploreWhy you might have a shingles flare-up after your COVID vaccination

Symptoms of shingles

Shingles is a viral infection of the nerves and is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles occurs in those who have already had chickenpox, as the virus stays dormant in your body.

Symptoms may include itching, skin sensitivity, tingling and rashes that look like red spots and eventually turn into blisters, according to John Hopkins Medicine. Earlier symptoms may include fever, chills, stomach upset and headaches.

It is recommended to check with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis and treatment of the virus.

What to avoid if you have shingles

During flare-ups, you should avoid certain foods so as not to aggravate the virus further. These foods include sugar, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, alcohol and foods that have high levels of arginine, such as chocolate or tuna. Instead, try eating foods that have high contents of vitamins such as whole grains, eggs, dairy, leafy green vegetables and chicken.

If you are contagious, you should stay inside so you don’t spread the virus to others and avoid going to public places until your virus is contained. Since the skin is extremely sensitive, prolonged sun exposure can trigger a flare-up and further damage your skin.

Explore3 surprising causes of shingles flare ups

What you can do

The first step should be to consult your doctor for medication and treatment. But there are plenty of things you could do at home to relieve itching and pain. According to the CDC, applying calamine lotion, wet compresses and oatmeal baths are ways to soothe the skin and affected areas.

Additionally, over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or paracetamol may relieve the pain.

If you have a weakened immune system, or if you are over the age of 50 and have had chickenpox, or if you received the previous shingles vaccine called Zostavax, you should get the Shingrix vaccine. The vaccine is the best way to prevent future outbreaks of shingles, and it comes in two doses. However, you should not take the vaccine while you are infected with shingles, if you are pregnant or if you have had an allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine.

Always consult your doctor before beginning treatment for shingles flare-ups.

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