Shingles is caused by varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chicken pox. Only people who have ever had chicken pox can get shingles. The disease is most commonly diagnosed in people over age 60. This is attributed to weakened immunity.
When you recover from chicken pox, some of the causative virus remains in the body, specifically in the nerve fibers that serve different dermatomes. The virus remains in latency and doesn’t cause any problems or signs of infection until later. When the immune system is compromised, the herpes zoster virus can be reactivated, in which case shingles occurs.
Symptoms of shingles include flu-like symptoms, pain, itchiness, rash and blisters. They occur systematically and usually last for 2-4 weeks. There is no cure for shingles but medications and treatments are available to improve the symptoms and prevent complications. This article investigates the causes of shingles scars and how they can be removed or prevented.
Does shingles leave scars after healing?
How does shingles occur? What is shingles virus? A shingles outbreak is not caused by a virus picked up from other people or transmitted in similar ways. It results from the reactivated chicken pox virus. This mostly happens in people with immune problems such as caused by diseases like HIV and leukemia. Medications taken after organ transplants or to treat cancer can also lower immunity. There are reasons to believe that stress can trigger flare ups. While most people get the disease once, cases of recurring shingles are not uncommon.
Rash and blisters start 2-3 days after the first symptoms. Blisters start as small spots which later develop into lesions and eventually become blisters. The blisters often rupture and ooze before crusting over. Can you get shingles under your breast? Shingles can occur anywhere but mostly show up on the face, lower back and trunk.
Does shingles leave scars after recovery? In most cases, scarring doesn’t occur once the blisters are healed. If it does, the resulting scars may be flattened, pitted and sometimes raised. They also tend to be reddened or purple in color. See shingles scars pictures for illustrations.
Shingles scars treatment
Even when shingles scars occur, they usually are not that conspicuous or extensive. Still, you may feel the need to get them removed. This is especially so when dealing with scars on the face. There are several shingles scars treatment options that may help.
Lasers are powerful, controlled beams of light. They are commonly used to even out skin pigment. Although laser surgery can be quite expensive, it is usually effective. Several appointments may be needed especially when severe scarring is involved.
This is a form of surgery that aims at improving or reducing the appearance of scars. It is also used to correct disfigurement such as that caused by poor healing of wounds or injuries.
During this procedure, the scarred skin will be cut out and replaced with new skin grafts. Punch excision is mostly considered for extensive scarring but may be helpful with shingles scars.
Soft tissue fillers are a good option when dealing with pitted scars. An injection will be used to introduce collagen and sometimes fat into affected areas. With time, the skin will become smoother and even out.
This procedure aims at removing the outer layers of the skin to allow for a healthier, smoother skin to emerge. A rotating device is used for this purpose. After treatment, the skin will become swollen and red but heals with time.
Talk with your dermatologist before making the final decision on which shingles scars treatment to go with. Note that such procedures are usually not taken care of by insurance coverage.
Shingles scar removal at home
Below is a list of home remedies that may help with shingles scars removal.
This is a weak acid commonly used to remove skin growths such as skin tags and warts. It works by corroding the skin. With time, the corroded skin peels off and is replaced by smoother new skin.
Baking soda encourages peeling of the skin. This allows new, normal skin to form on the affected areas. The problem with baking soda is that it requires a lot of patience and may not be effective for everyone.
Apple cider vinegar:
Apple cider vinegar has acidic properties which may help with shingles scars removal. To use it, soak a cotton ball in diluted apple cider vinegar and apply directly.
Essential oils can be used before and after scars have formed. They help restore skin integrity and moisture.
Crush two tablets of aspirin and make a paste with nail polish. Apply the mixture to the affected areas until the scars fade away. Don’t use aspirin orally if you have kidney problems, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers and heart issues. The medicine should not be given to babies below 6 months of age.
Calamine lotion is mostly used to ease the itchiness caused by shingles. For scar removal, mix it with some rubbing alcohol and apply with a cotton ball.
Shingles scars prevention
Rather than struggling with how to get rid of shingles scars, it is much easier to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Below are several shingles scar prevention options.
Reduce itch to avoid scratching:
Scratching is one of the reasons why shingles scars occur. The problem is that shingles itchiness can prove intolerable. To reduce itchiness, use products such as calamine lotion, oatmeal baths, baking soda and antihistamines. Pain killers such as ibuprofen can also help. For shingles nerve pain relief, more powerful pain killers are necessary.
Use a cool compress:
A cool compress helps with shingles scars prevention in ways. First, it reduces itchiness and thus discourages scratching. Second, it keeps the skin from drying and flaking. Cool compresses may also keep blisters clean, thus promoting faster recovery.
Use antibacterial agents:
Bacteria can easily take advantage of shingles blisters to get into the skin and cause infection. Bacterial infections are more likely to end up in scarring than normal shingles blisters. To avoid this complication, use antibacterial products such as soaps, aloe vera and essential oils. If infection occurs, get medical attention so that antibiotics can be prescribed.
Improve your diet:
Shingles scars are like any other normal wound on the skin. The longer they are around, the more likely they are to cause scarring. The healing process can be sped up by increasing your intake of vitamins like vitamin C and minerals like zinc. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help since they reduce inflammation and boost immunity.
Shingles is not contagious but the herpes zoster virus is. Avoid direct contact with an infected person during the blister-phase. In this way, herpes zoster virus will not be transmitted. You can consider learning more on shingles rash contagious and airborne transmission of shingles precautions.
Vaccines to prevent shingles scars
Two different shingles vaccines have been approved for the FDA. These are Zostavax and Shingrix. Both are recommended for people above age 60.
Vaccines do not necessarily prevent or cure a disease. What they do is ensure that if the disease is to occur, it will not bring the most severe symptoms or complications.
Vaccines can greatly help with shingles scars. As mentioned earlier, scarring caused by shingles is more common in people with serious immune issues. Since get vaccinated reduces risk of severe shingles outbreaks, it can succeed in keeping scars from occurring at all. If you have never been vaccinated against chicken pox, it is advisable that you get the shot. This is especially true if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
Can you die from shingles? Severe shingles outbreaks can lead to complications such as pneumonia and inflammation in the brain which in turn can lead to death. Shingles eye contagious infection is associated with complications such as blindness.
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