Specific Nursing Care








People who have had chickenpox before can develop shingles because the virus never completely leaves the body.  Shingles occurs when the virus starts up again.  This happens when there is a decrease in the body's resistance, allowing the virus to start multiplying and move along the nerve towards the skin.  Shingles is more common in older adults and people who have weak immune systems.  Prescribed medicines are effective if the infection is spotted early.  Otherwise, the person may experience serious pain for weeks or months.
Shingles is not highly infectious and cross-infection from one person to another is uncommon, but children may develop chickenpox from contact with the virus in adults.  It is infectious, to this degree, until the last blister has crusted.  Most people who get shingles will get better and will not get it again.

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Signs and Symptoms of Shingles


The first symptom is a burning pain in the skin along the line of the affected nerve. The affected areas are sensitive to touch.  This may last for one to three days before rash occurs.


The rash usually occurs on one side of the body at face or trunk level.  It is usually at a specific and defined area – the area of the skin served by the affected nerves.


A group of blisters then forms on the rash. The blisters generally last for two to three weeks, during which time they accumulate pus and then crust over and begin to disappear.


Some people only get a mild rash, and some do not get a rash at all. The number of blisters also varies.



Other symptoms include:


Raised body temperature.


A vague feeling of bodily weakness or discomfort.


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Homecare Tips


Encourage bed rest during the early stage of infection.


Provide a high-calorie nutritious diet to increase body resistance.


Give plenty of fluids.


Administer medications as prescribed.


Calamine lotion may give some temporary relief from the irritation of the rash.


Cool compresses may be applied to the affected skin areas.


Prevent infection and scaring by taking good care of the affected areas. Do not scratch or apply toxic home remedies on blisters.  Always keep the skin clean.


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Post-herpetic neuralgia, a condition where the person experiences constant or episodic pain even after the rash has healed.


Delayed healing of the skin due to infection of the blisters.  In such case, antibiotic treatment is required.


High fever and spread of the disease all over the body.


Permanent eye damage can result if the blisters involve the eye region.


Shingles can cause scarring if the blisters are infected.


An attack of shingles in the pelvic area can affect bladder or bowel function.



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