What is Shingles?
Shingles is a rash caused by the infection of a nerve and the skin around it, caused by the varicella-zoster virus, known as herpes zoster, which also causes chickenpox.
It’s estimated that around one in every four people will have at least one episode of shingles in their lifetime, and that by age 80, half of all people will have had shingles.
Shingles is not uncommon in the elderly, as it is seen most often in people over the age of 70. It can be very painful for the elderly so it is important to understand the signs and symptoms of the disease so you can properly treat it as soon as possible.
Shingles can sometimes lead to complications, especially in the elderly, and seniors who have a weakened immune system or who have already had the virus previously are more likely to develop complications of the disease.
What are the complications?
One possible complication is post-herpetic neuralgia, which is debilitating pain that is possible to last for months or even years after the initial shingles rash has dissipated.
For some people, this lasting pain can be the worst symptom of shingles and can inhibit people from being able to do the things they were normally able to enjoy and interfere with basic activities such as dressing, physical activity, or sleeping. Some elderly people complain of pain that feels like it is burning, throbbing, or stabbing, and that wearing clothing that touches those areas can be uncomfortable and frustrating to the sensitive area. The National Institute on Aging reports that the older you are, the greater your chance of developing post-herpetic pain from shingles.
Ongoing pain and effects of post-herpetic neuralgia can also lead to depression in some people.
Especially concerning are outbreaks that develop on the face or near the eyes which can cause vision or hearing problems for some people. If the cornea of the eye is affected, it can even lead to permanent blindness.
Open sores caused by the rash itself can lead to bacterial infection or in some instances scarring of the skin. In a very small percentage of cases, bacteria can cause more serious conditions such as necrotizing fasciitis, which is an infection that destroys the soft tissue under the skin.
If your loved one is receiving home care services, it is important to be vigilant about any rashes or complaints of pain or burning, tingling sensations your loved one or their home care services provider might share with you.
If treatment is received within 72 hours of getting the rash, there are medications that can be given to help shorten the length of the infection and lower the risk of other problems like shingles complications. Your loved one’s health care practitioner may prescribe antiviral drugs for severe symptoms which can help fight the virus, steroids which can help lessen the pain, antidepressants or anticoagulants if needed, and analgesics for helping with reduction of pain.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Home Care Services in York PA, please talk to us. Our friendly staff can answer all of your questions. In-home Senior Care in Adams and York Counties, PA. Call Today: (717) 698-8258.