Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins

Are You At Risk for Shingles?
Published: 9/21/2013

The good news is that if you never had chickenpox, you probably don't need to worry too much about shingles. But if you have, there's a ten- to twenty-percent chance that you may develop the small, itchy, fluid-filled blisters that occur when the same virus that causes chickenpox is reactivated. This virus, varicella-zoster, can lie dormant in the nervous system of the body for several decades. People over 60 are at the greatest risk, in part because of the decreased immunity that can happen with age. An increase in physical and emotional stress can also lead to shingles, as can direct contact with someone who has open shingles blisters: in this instance even people who have not had chickenpox can be affected as they can develop chickenpox, and in turn, shingles.

The symptoms of shingles are usually a burning, itching, tingling sensation of the skin, often on the torso, face or one side of the body. It eventually leads to a rash that looks similar to chickenpox - fluid-filled blisters that eventually dry out and become crusty. It tends to start and end in a three- to five-week period.

While shingles itself is more of a discomfort than anything, it can lead to more serious complications, so it's important to see a doctor for treatment, especially if there are any lesions near the eyes or nose. Anyone with immune-deficient conditions or on immune-modulating drugs should be extra cautious and avoid people with shingles.

Conventional treatment consists of medications for itching and pain. You may also try acupuncture and hypnosis to help address pain. Topical capsaicin (the substance that makes red chilies hot) can also help, as it depletes nerve cells of "substance P," a natural chemical that is involved in sending pain signals to the brain. Rub the cream on the affected area of skin three times a day. Exposing your skin to hot water for 30-60 seconds may also be effective, as can turmeric paste: add three tablespoons of turmeric to three cups of water and boil into a paste (it should take at least eight minutes, and you may need to add more water). Apply to the affected area, being careful to avoid contact with clothes, as turmeric can stain.

Finally, if you are over the age of 60, there is a vaccine for shingles. While it is expensive and effective about half of the time, it can lessen the severity of shingles that happen after the vaccine and provides other benefits - talk with your doctor.

Find out which vitamins are right for you.
Everyone's dietary needs are different based on a number of factors including lifestyle, diet, medications and more. To find out what vitamins you need, take the Weil Vitamin Advisor. This 3-step questionnaire requires just minutes to complete, and generates a free, no-obligation vitamin and nutritional supplement recommendation that is personalized to meet your unique nutritional needs.

Address Anxiety in Just Eight Weeks
If you are feeling depressed, anxious or sad, you aren't alone. Dr. Weil's 8-week plan,, can help. We feature simple, effective and natural ways to address depression, anxiety and stress. Exclusive videos and tools encourage your progress while the interactive community is a source of support. Learn more - start your 10-day free trial today.

Boost Your Natural Defenses With These 4 Natural Tonics 7/25/2016
Want To Help Protect Against Some Cancers? Eat Soy 7/24/2016
6 Effective Ways To Address Poison Ivy This Summer 7/23/2016
Not All Foods Need To Be Organic - Including These 15 7/22/2016
Do You Know Why Mint Is So Healthy? Find Out! 7/21/2016
Subscribe to Dr. Weil's channel on Vimeo for great health-related videos.
Become a fan on Facebook and join our lively conversations.
See what Dr. Weil is tweeting about today on Twitter.
Watch and subscribe to Dr. Weil's YouTube channel.
What's on the blog today? Dr. Weil's daily health tips and more.
Visit our Multimedia Library for videos and photo essays.
Find Dr. Weil's travel, pet, food, and other photos at Flickr.
Read vitamin-related information from the Vitamin Advisor"s Facebook page.
See all of Dr. Weil's pins on Pinterest.
     Click here to subscribe. Or check out our other offerings! Manage your profile!

Copyright © 2016 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here