If you're like many, you may associate the shingles virus with age; after all, the shingles vaccine is primarily a risk to those in their fifties or older. But the advent of the chickenpox vaccine, along with an overall rise in the amount of stress younger people are experiencing, has led to a rapid increase in the diagnosis of shingles cases among those in their teens, twenties, and thirties. Read on to learn more about the different ways in which young people experience the shingles virus, as well as some of the most effective treatment options for this ailment.
Is Shingles Worse for Young People?
The shingles virus, varicella, is the same virus that causes chickenpox in children and teens. But while chicken pox rarely causes complications in those with healthy immune systems, shingles can often have a far more significant impact on younger people than older ones—especially because most teens and twentysomethings today have been vaccinated against varicella, minimizing or eliminating their risk of contracting chickenpox during childhood.
Another risk factor for young people dealing with shingles is that of misdiagnosis. Because shingles is still more common among those in their fifties, sixties, and seventies than among younger people, the telltale signs of a shingles infection—like a rash that runs along the spinal cord, radiating nerve pain, and serious itching—may not raise an alarm with physicians who haven't previously encountered shingles in a younger patient. But because successful shingles management often hinges on an early diagnosis, seeking medical treatment as soon as you begin experiencing symptoms is important.
What Are Your Best Shingles Treatment Options?
Once you've been diagnosed with shingles, you'll need to pursue treatment options quickly and aggressively to speed your healing time. Your doctor is likely to prescribe you some heavy-duty steroids that can reduce inflammation and minimize the risk of long-term nerve damage. Be sure to take the entire prescribed treatment, even if you quickly begin feeling better, to avoid a repeat flare-up once you've assumed your shingles are gone.
In addition to these prescribed treatments, you can use topical shingles creams or gels to reduce the itching, swelling, and overall discomfort created by your shingles lesions. These gels are available in a variety of sizes, scents, and formulas, which can ensure that you'll be able to find an option that works well for you. Because scratching your lesions can increase the risk of infection, anything you can do to ease itchiness should help you heal.
Check out companies like Shingle Ease for more information about these treatment options.