Jul 27, 2016 by Tina Butler
Each year, about one million individuals suffer from shingles, a painful skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus. Although anyone can develop shingles, the risk of this virus increases with age. According to data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately half of all shingles cases occur in men and women ages 60 years old or older.
Non medical home care aides explain that shingles are contagious to those who are pregnant or have never had the chickenpox. Therefore, when caring for an elder with shingles, non medical home care professionals should wash their hands often, wear gloves, and use other common sense safety precautions.
There are a variety of signs and symptoms that elders with shingles may experience. Shingles typically start with itching and pain on one side of the body, on a particular part of the skin. After about 1 to 5 days, a rash will appear. The rash resembles the chickenpox with itchy fluid-filled blisters and may involve the face, mouth, eyes, and ears.
Other symptoms of shingles may include headache, fever, joint pain, nausea, and the chills. As soon as shingles symptoms appear, aging adults should visit a board-certified dermatologist or doctor.
There are a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help minimize the pain and duration of shingles. Acyclovir and valacyclovir are a few of the most common anti-viral drugs that a doctor may prescribe while ibuprofen is a popular over-the-counter pain medicine that may be recommended. Topical antibiotics which can be applied directly to the skin to prevent the infection of blisters are an option as well.
At Home Remedies
Non medical home care assistants suggest several at home remedies for aging adults coping with shingles. Ice packs or cool wet cloths against the skin, colloidal oatmeal baths, and a topical calamine lotion may effectively reduce itching and sooth the rash. Seniors must also maintain good personal hygiene by keeping the affected area clean, covering the rash with sterile, non-stick bandages, and resisting the temptation to scratch it.
Most episodes of shingles last between 2 and 4 weeks. If a senior’s rash does not go away, more extensive care and advanced treatment options will be necessary.