Shingles occur when the virus that causes chicken pox reactivates, which means that anyone who has ever had chicken pox can get shingles. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that one out of three people will get shingles during their lives. Shingles typically causes a painful, blistering rash on the back, chest, or stomach, although the rash can appear in other areas. The pain from shingles can linger even after the rash has disappeared. In fact, sometimes the pain can go on for months or even years. If your parent has had chicken pox in their lifetime, they are at risk for shingles, so knowing how to manage shingles pain may make getting through the condition a little easier on your parent, you, and your parent’s elder care provider.
How do doctors treat shingles?
One of the things that can be done to prevent shingles is for your parent to get the shingles vaccine. The vaccine may protect your parent from ever coming down with this painful condition, but it is not 100 percent effective. However, doctors believe that people who have received the vaccination experience less pain.
If your parent is diagnosed with shingles, the doctor will probably start by prescribing antiviral medications. When the medications are started within the first three days of noticing a shingles rash, there is less chance that complications will occur. One of the complications of shingles is postherpetic neuralgia, which is headaches, pain, and nerve problems that are a result of the virus. Postherpetic neuralgia can last anywhere from one month to years.
Your doctor may also suggest over-the-counter pain medications and antibiotic creams. If the symptoms are severe, the doctor may also prescribe corticosteroids.
What can be done for mom or dad at home?
In addition to following the doctor’s advice for treating shingles, there are things you and your parent’s elder care provider can do at home to keep them comfortable. Some things you can try are:
- Put calamine lotion on the rash.
- Have your parent take a cool bath.
- Use ice packs on the rash and areas that are painful.
- Protect the rash with loose, sterile gauze bandages.
- Apply cool, wet cloths to the rash.
- Have your parent wear clothes that are soft and loose, such as clothes made from cotton.
- Remind your parent not to scratch or pick at the blisters.
One other thing to be aware of with shingles is that they can be contagious to someone who has never had chicken pox and has not received the chicken pox vaccine. If your parent gets shingles, be sure that their elder care providers are aware of the condition and that they are not at risk for contracting the virus.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring elder care in Simpsonville, SC, contact Heart of the Carolinas Home Care at 864-991-3116. Providing Home Care Services in Greenville, Simpsonville, Greer, Anderson, Spartanburg, Mauldin, Seneca, Laurens, Charleston, Columbia and the surrounding areas.
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