You regularly hear that stress and fatigue can have all kinds of unpleasant consequences for the body.
Did you know that fatigue can also cause skin rashes?
Shingles gives a painful red rash on the body. Fatigue plays an important role in this as it is closely linked to shingles.
I will tell you in detail how that works in this article. I also explain what you can do to treat the rash and how you can prevent those annoying shingles.
Make yourself better with the 10 facts and 6 proven tips in this article.
What is Shingles?
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful and itchy rash on the skin.
It usually looks like a red line of blisters on or around the chest and on one side of the body. However, it can also appear on the face and other parts of the body.
Shingles is also known as herpes zoster because it is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This virus is also the cause of chickenpox.
If you’ve had the chickenpox, the virus is stored in your body forever. Normally you don’t notice this, but many years later the virus can become active again and cause an outbreak of shingles.
Shingles is a nasty condition, but it’s not life-threatening. So how come it’s still active after I’ve had it for so long?
The Causes of Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
As mentioned, herpes zoster is a disease caused by the varicella-zoster (chickenpox) virus. If you have had the chickenpox, the virus will not have completely disappeared from your body.
It stores itself at nerve endings and close to the brain stem. Most people never notice it again.
But for some of us it does resurface later in life and manifests itself in the form of shingles.
It has not been established with 100% certainty why the virus sometimes occurs and sometimes does not arise decades later. However, it has a strong relationship with having a reduced resistance.
So now we know what causes shingles, but what are the symptoms and what are the consequences?
What Are the Effects of Shingles?
The immune system ensures that the risk of shingles decreases. But if that is weakened, you run a higher risk of shingles.
It often starts with tingling and pain on a specific area of the skin. After a few days, the red blisters appear around the same spot. This is usually on one side of the body.
Because the virus is stored in a nerve, the outbreak will concentrate around the skin area of that nerve. Hence, in principle it is only on one side of the body and it can look like a kind of girdle.
On average, after about a week, the red blisters begin to diminish. Although skin sensitivity usually lasts even longer. An episode lasts on average about 3 to 5 weeks.
About 10% of people with shingles last for months and about 2% for more than a year. That’s because of post-herpetic nerve pain, the most common complication of shingles.
If the outbreak is close to the eyes, it is recommended to consult a doctor as soon as possible because in extreme cases it can lead to a serious eye infection with all its consequences.
Shingles is an annoying and often painful condition, but what does it have to do with fatigue?
The link between shingles and fatigue
Shingles and fatigue are very closely related. Why is that so? I’m going to explain that to you now.
As I mentioned before, a shingles outbreak occurs when your resistance is reduced.
It may be that you are very tired, for example because you worry a lot in bed and therefore develop sleep deprivation.
This means that the body has to work much harder to carry out certain processes.
Cortisol has a regulating effect on inflammation and if it does not work properly, cortisol can actually stimulate or enhance the inflammatory response.
So we now know that fatigue and shingles go together…
Before I tell you what you can do to treat shingles, I have listed some important facts for you.
10 Facts About Shingles And Fatigue
Anyone who has ever had chickenpox can develop shingles. It is caused by the same virus.
Shingles is also known as herpes zoster because it is caused by the varicella-zoster (chickenpox) virus. Most people have the virus in their body because of chickenpox. The immune system cannot overcome the virus, but it does ensure that the virus does not develop.
So the virus is the cause of shingles, but it is the reduced resistance that causes it to manifest.
Stress and fatigue can trigger shingles. It causes a reduced resistance, so that the virus has free rein and can develop the symptoms.
As you get older you have a greater risk of developing shingles because your resistance often decreases with age. But children can also get shingles.
Once you have an outbreak, stress and fatigue can make the pain worse because the body has less energy to fight the virus.
7The open blisters are contagious. You cannot pass on the shingles itself, but the virus that causes the shingles can. The recipient may then also develop herpes zoster many years later.
An episode of shingles lasts an average of 3 to 5 weeks, and most people only have one episode in their lifetime. However, it can also occur more than once. Fatigue has a negative effect on this.
A vaccine is available that significantly reduces the risk of developing shingles. You can get the vaccine before the first episode, but it can still be helpful after the first episode.
So, in most cases, shingles won’t have any long-term effects, but you do run the risk of post-herpetic nerve pain. This is a condition where the skin remains sore long after the blisters are gone.
So we already have a lot of facts about shingles at a glance. We now know what it is, what causes it and what the symptoms are. Most importantly, though, you can do something about it.
Shingles is an annoying condition. Although there are no medicines that directly solve the problem, there are many treatments that can reduce the symptoms.
With these 6 tips you will learn how to prevent or help cure herpes zoster!
1. Taking Antivirals
Although a reduced resistance increases the chance of a shingles outbreak, the virus is the real problem. Herpes zoster is caused by the chickenpox virus that is stored in the body.
Unfortunately, there is no medicine available that can remove the virus from the body. Still, there are medications that can make a difference in treating the symptoms.
Antiviral drugs such as aciclovir, famciclovir and valacyclovir inhibit the growth of the virus. This reduces the symptoms caused by the virus a lot faster.
2. Ointment and cream against itching
The most important thing not to do with shingles is to scratch. Scratching the blisters can cause scarring and prolong symptoms.
To do something against the itching, you can use different types of skin ointment, such as zinc ointment or lanette ointment. They will not solve the problem faster, but they will reduce the itching.
Also look for a cream with the ingredient capsaicin. Capsaicin has an anti-inflammatory effect. You can apply it several times a day to reduce the itchiness and relieve the pain.
3. Take a Healing Bath
In contrast, cold water gives the skin a soothing feeling.
You can also take a bath with lukewarm water and a few tablespoons of cornstarch in it to reduce the symptoms.
Dry well afterwards and throw the towel in the wash immediately to prevent spreading the virus. A cold wrap (not ice) on the rash instead of cold water can also reduce the symptoms of shingles and fatigue.
4. Address the cause of reduced resistance
As I mentioned, reduced resistance is the main cause of shingles. There are many possible causes of a decreased resistance.
As I mentioned, stress and fatigue play an important role in the development of shingles.
A poor diet, certain medicines or other viruses can also ensure that your immune system does not work optimally.
In order to improve resistance, it is important to find out whether stress and fatigue are the cause of shingles.
5. Solve the fatigue problems
If you suffer from fatigue, there is a good chance that there is a connection between the fatigue and shingles.
Solving the fatigue complaints will then be a good step to quickly reduce the complaints.
To reduce fatigue, you can think of adjusting your eating pattern, relaxation exercises or adjusting your day and night rhythm.
Make sure you drink enough water and try to deal with or avoid stressful situations. Stay away from negative factors such as smoking and drinking alcohol and there are many more ways to reduce fatigue.
6. Watch what you eat
A healthy diet can help prevent fatigue and shingles or reduce symptoms.
Healthy eating has a positive effect on your resistance. Building up your resistance ensures that existing shingles complaints will decrease faster.
To improve the resistance you need Vitamin A, B12, C, E and lysine rich products.
So eat more yellow and orange fruits, eggs, green vegetables, red meat, fish, whole grains, dairy and beans.
On the other hand, stay away from foods or juices with a lot of sugar, products with a lot of refined carbohydrates, saturated fats and arginine-rich foods (chocolate, nuts and seeds).
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