Often shingles is referred to as “adult chickenpox”. Unfortunately, this name can lead to the misconception that shingles only affects adults. The truth is simple. If a child has had chickenpox, they can get shingles at any time.
After the immune system fights off chickenpox it lays dormant in a person’s body. That virus, varicella-zoster, can reactivate as herpes zoster (shingles) through your nervous system. It will then appear on the skin as a painful rash.
Doctors are unsure of what exactly causes it to appear in teenagers, but there are a few possibilities. Autoimmune disorders, stress, and hormonal imbalances can all contribute to its resurfacing. Fortunately, shingles is easily diagnosed and treated.
Shingles will normally present itself as a pimply, stripe-shaped rash on the left or right side of the body. There will usually be mild to severe pain, some itching, and irritation, with some people reporting fever or headaches as the rash presents itself.
Over time the pimples will become itchy, painful pus-filled blisters. These will erupt and scab over in about a week. After scabbing, they will dry and fall off in about 2 to 4 weeks. It is crucial that during this time scratching is minimized to prevent bacteria from entering the open sores. On rare occasions, the rash will spread to other parts of the body to include the face. Though this may look scary, it is treatable.
If you see any of these symptoms, consult with a doctor right away. Usually, just by observation and reporting of symptoms, a diagnosis can be reached, but occasionally some additional testing may be necessary. Once diagnosed, treatment may begin.
There are many ways to treat shingles. Since it is a virus there is not an antibiotic that can rid the body of it. However, there are various ways to mitigate the symptoms and help speed up recovery.
The pain associated with shingles can be treated using acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Make sure to avoid aspirin-based products as this can lead to serious complications. A cool compress may also be applied to help with inflammation. Calamine lotion can help suppress itching and in turn, prevent infection that results from bacteria entering blisters that have been scratched open. Other creams can also be beneficial.
The best cream to put on shingles is usually made from natural ingredients penetrating deep into the skin to heal open sores associated with shingles and eliminating any invading bacteria or fungi. It provides relief from inflammation that causes discomfort and pain. It also promotes blood flow to the affected area, which speeds up healing and repairs the skin quickly.
If not treated properly there are some long-term effects that have been known to occur. The most common is ongoing nerve pain, referred to as post-herpetic neuralgia. The nerves have become damaged, and begin sending pain signals to the brain sporadically, even when the skin is lightly touched. Other nerve issues include partial face paralysis and damaged hearing.
If the rash presents itself on the face there is a chance that vision can become effected. Some people have reported partial to full vision loss. It is critical that treatment be observed by a doctor should the rash be anywhere near the eye.
Though it is not always possible to prevent shingles, there are some steps that can be taken to lessen the chance of it occurring. If your child has not yet had chickenpox, consider talking to your doctor about administering the chickenpox vaccine. Additionally, your child should avoid contact with anyone who has chickenpox or shingles.
Your teenager can be affected by shingles, but you likely will not have to worry about it rearing its itchy and painful head. Shingles is most common in adults over 50 with compromised immune systems. A shingles vaccine is available, but it is rarely given to children or teens as shingles tend to not be as severe for them.