The more we spend time with elders, the more we learn about old age-related complications. One such rising health concern for elders is the viral infection– herpes zoster or shingles. While a dormant virus — when reactivated — shingles occur in the form of fluid-filled blisters and reddish skin, followed by inflammation and irritation. The pain can be unbearable for adults and elders, especially when their health is not at its best.
Shingles can occur anywhere on the body, including the chest, abdomen, lower back, shoulders, or even around the head. Besides muscle soreness, shingles can cause sharp, thumping headaches and fever. Usually, shingles can remain visible for up to 2 weeks and wear out after a scratchy skin layer. It is advisable to consult a doctor as soon as the symptoms appear.
In this article, we shall learn more about the causes and treatment of herpes zoster in elders.
Various conditions can set off shingles and herpes zoster in older adults. Here are a few causes of herpes zoster:
Varicella-zoster virus or VZV is responsible for triggering shingles in adults and elders. The VZV stays dormant in the nervous system since it is left by its parent virus varicella— the same virus which causes chickenpox.
The VZV returns to life in adults and older people when their immunity hits the lowest. So, it makes VZV a common virus that sits inside everybody who has ever been affected by chickenpox, only to be reactivated during old age.
Studies suggest that the zoster virus reactivates only in adulthood and old age when a person’s immunity worsens. Shingles occur due to the failure of an elder’s immune defence system to prevent virus replication. On the other hand, healthy elders with stronger immunity rarely develop shingles. Also, shingles can have long-lasting effects like constant pain around the affected area.
While life is challenging throughout, adulthood and old age witnesses people having some of the most stressful life events. Emotional trauma, pressurising work conditions, financial difficulties, family disputes, and other emotional outbursts can trigger shingles in old age. What makes it worse is any pre-existing chronic illness that an elder might be dealing with, for instance, heart or kidney diseases.
Treating shingles begins at home. Below are some steps to relieve the pain caused by herpes zoster in adults:
Since the shingles rash causes intense inflammation, a mildly cool compress helps soothe the pain. You can apply a cool, moist compress by dampening and squeezing a clean cloth into cool water and applying it on the affected areas.
While using this technique several times a day, remember to be gentle and only use a soft cotton cloth. Applying synthetic cloth, or worse a plastic ice bag can worsen the rash and cause extreme pain.
Although lotions and creams can keep blisters from drying out, it offers some degree of comfort from inflammation and irritation. Thus, you should only apply lotions sparingly, and that too, only the clinically approved ones. Also, many experts suggest applying coconut oil to the rash to soothe cracking and itching. Medically, the ointment treatment for shingles includes antibiotic creams like acyclovir or soframycin, but should be only used post-prescription.
The stronger your immune system, the sooner you recover from shingles or herpes zoster. A nutritious diet is an essential step toward a faster recovery. Consider adding foods rich in vitamins A, B-12, C, and E to your diet. For instance, oranges, bananas, green leafy veggies, eggs, fish, beans, and tomatoes are some foods that help improve shingles effectively.
Also, you can take up some gentle exercises and body movements to relieve the pain, like walking or rotating your shoulders.It will help ease the body soreness caused by the blisters and the underlying pain.
Dealing with old age-related health issues comes with a cost. The treatment cost can become unbearable for elders, given their limited sources of income and expensive hospitalisation charges. To ensure your elders recover without financial hurdles, secure them under Senior Citizens Health Insurance Plan. We offer superior healthcare benefits to older adults and senior citizens with pre and post-hospitalisation coverage, up to 50% no-claim bonus, annual restoration of the sum insured, domiciliary healthcare, free annual health check-ups, and more. So, with Care Health Insurance, safeguard your loved ones with the right and better healthcare security.
Disclaimer: Please verify the policy details and coverage with the official policy documents. Also, kindly consult a professional medical expert to verify the details of health concerns.
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