Shingles

No, I don’t have shingles again, but I noticed that it’s one of the biggest searches that brings people here. To skip to posts that mention shingles, click here.

I’ve had shingles three times. The very first time, I had no clue what it was. Each time thereafter I did.  There have been clear signs that I was going to have a case. In advance of the rash, I felt generally unwell. My most recent outbreak was on the left side of my head, and was preceded by an earache, headache and sore throat just on that side.  Each time, the skin in the area where the rash would soon appear was extremely sensitive and sometimes felt almost as a burning sensation, but very mild.

Once the rash appears, there can be itching and sharp stinging. Sometimes the stinging is enough to make me say ouch! Even after the rash clears up, there’s still some stinging and itching.  It eventually wears off, but I still have itching on my head where the rash used to be. Certain spots are still extremely sensitive at times.

I’ve been told that it’s necessary to start an anti-viral such as Famvir as soon as possible to lessen the likelihood of post herpetic neuralgia, but that it will not be effective if started too late. If the rash has been present for more than 3 days, it may not do any good to be on an anti-viral.  Some myeloma patients are on an anti-viral persistently in an effort to prevent the ocurrance of shingles.  I’ve not done that, because I don’t like the side effects of the drug Famvir, which gives me headaches.

Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, which is the same thing that causes chicken pox.  If you have never had chicken pox, you won’t get shingles. You can get chicken pox from someone who has shingles though!

More about shingles

9 Comments

  1. Bev Johns

    What type of diet have you found effective for shingles. My husband has just been diagnosed with it and I want to be sure he is eating the right foods.

  2. Bev Johns

    Are there good websites you would recommend?

  3. Beth

    Bev asked if there was any kind of diet I would recommend for shingles. I didn’t change anything about mine. Just try to stay on a well-balanced diet at all times is what I say. Do I do it? No. :) How severe is the case of shingles?

  4. Beth

    As for web sites, I referred to these a lot:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shingles
    http://www.medicinenet.com/shingles/article.htm

    Mostly, I took my meds and used lotion for the itching and stinging. Shingles has the ability to make you feel just plain miserable. If you get on the anti-viral soon enough, it can help prevent post herpetic neuralgia, which can be painful. I have not had much trouble with PHN myself though. However, some of the places where I had the rash still feel sensitive and even itch sometimes.

  5. Emily

    I came across your blog about shingles. My husband was absolutely miserable with shingles on his chest. He used an over-the-counter cream called The Shingles Solution. It was miraculous. Like other medications, it only works that well if you use it in the first two weeks of the outbreak. Maybe it will do some of your other readers some good.

  6. QRagsdale

    I did a search on shingles and came across this website. Its exactly what I had 5 years ago. The most miserable month of my life. I thought I had a break out, zits, and when I started running a fever I went to my doctor who gave me a huge dose of Valtrex, some oxycontin (my doc is usually anti narcotic so when he wrote me that i knew it was serious) and told me to go home and get in bed. He was right, the next day I was miserable. it felt like someone was placing a hot iron on the right side of my face. It did eventually get better and things did get back to normal, but i did feel like Sloth from the Goonies when I had to go out in public. Long story long, thanks for posting your experience. I felt isolated in that it was just me and come to find out, a lot of normal, healthy folks get this. I have a very stressful job and type A personality.

  7. judy

    Are mm patients good candidates for the shingles vaccine? My son with mm has had a mild case of shingles.

  8. Beth

    Hi Judy,

    I’ve been told that we myeloma patients should not receive the shingles vaccine. I don’t recall if it’s because it’s a live virus, or what the reason was. I’ll try to find out.

    Beth

  9. Babara

    I really found your statement about the pain in the area that preceded the rash very helpful

    I have one strip of rash that looks exactly like some of your photos on my left side above my waist. AND my skin is very tender and hurts (burns, pinches, and jabs, hard to explain) in other spots arouround my torso not far from the rash

    Hate to self diagnose, but I really think I have shingles

    I sent photos tonight to my son…he’s a Emergency Medicine doc. Then will see my GP Monday

    Thanks so much for your wonderful description

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