Worried about shingles? How to spot them and what to do

Shingles is a viral infection – herpes zoster – it’s in the same family as chickenpox. Many of us had chickenpox as children, but for some people, the virus can lay dormant and come back as shingles, usually when we’re over 50.

If you’ve been unwell and your immune system is low or weak, that’s when you’re most likely to suffer an attack of shingles. Don’t wait to get worse – it can be excruciating – see your doctor for early, more effective treatment.

Shingles signs and symptoms

When you know what to look for, you’ll be able to spot shingles sooner rather than later.

Burning or itching

When you feel an itching, burning sensation on a patch of your skin, or an unusual numbness, this can signal the onset of shingles blisters.

Blister rash

A few days after the itching or numbness, you will find painful blisters in the same place, often in a line.

Flu-like symptoms

Just as a flu virus can affect your stomach and ramp up a fever, so too will shingles. Nausea, chills or sweats are common.

An outbreak on your face

If you develop conjunctivitis (an eye infection) or the blisters appear on your face, see a doctor immediately.

Ways to avoid shingles

Just like the common cold or even flu, shingles rarely gains a foothold in a healthy person’s body. Here are some tips for maintaining your health, and avoiding the painful disease.

Eat yourself well

Make sure you get plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit every day. Stay away from refined or processed foods – they don’t have the same balance of nutrients as fresh, whole foods. Try to eat as wide a variety as you can – nuts, seeds, berries, leaves, stems and roots. Eat the rainbow and stay well.

Get out in the fresh air

Walk every day, if you can. Exercise gets your blood pumping and keeps your whole body working better. Join a walking group or a gym, and get moving.

Maintain a healthy weight

When you’re obese or even just overweight, you put stress on your body in a lot of ways. Use your healthy diet and exercise regime to trim a few kilos if you need to, and give your body the best chance at wellness you can.

Sleep your eight hours

This isn’t easy for everyone, but it helps to stick to a routine. Stop watching TV at least an hour before bedtime, go to bed at the same time every night, and if you have trouble dropping off, try meditating. Herbal teas like chamomile are nerve-soothing, and could help you get a good night’s sleep. Click here for more sleep tips.

Ward off shingles with wellness

Never mind chickenpox, shingles is a painful, distressing virus that no-one enjoys. Fevers and chills, itching and blisters can really lay you low. If you’re worried you have shingles, see your doctor for treatment and painkillers.

The virus only takes hold if your immunities are already low, so take steps to maintain your wellness – good eating, exercise, weight-loss if you need to, and plenty of sleep. You’ll be warding off a whole lot more than shingles if you do!