Shingles and Pregnancy

image001 It is possible to develop shingles during your pregnancy. And when you do, you may worry about the safety issues concerning shingles and pregnancy. However, it should be kept in mind that the condition of shingles will not affect the baby, as your body is already sufficient with the antibodies that will help to keep your baby safe from this virus. Remember that the condition of chickenpox and shingles are caused by the presence of the same virus, which is known as the Varicella-zoster virus. This virus causes chickenpox, which is extremely infectious, affects mostly children and is milder in nature. Shingles, on the other hand, is a condition caused by an infection that is present in the nerve and the skin where the nerve is present. It is also to be kept in mind that individuals, who have had chickenpox, will only be prone to the condition of the shingles.

What Are the Symptoms of Shingles During Pregnancy?

When shingles and pregnancy happen together, certain symptoms would occur. The condition of shingles causes extreme skin rash, which results in blistering and severe pain. If you are experiencing pain in your skin, you must keep in mind that it is the first symptom of shingles. Following the pain, you will soon notice your skin to be turning red, and you may notice the development of blisters that are filled with pus.

Shingles can infect the face as well as other parts of the body. Shingles cause the rash to develop like the shape of a band or a belt on the body and this standard pattern is caused by the virus itself. The virus infects the nerves that are branching out from the spinal cord and are circling the body. Along with the face, the stomach and the chest are most prone to shingles.

You should keep in mind that the condition of shingles can last for a few days, or for a few weeks. You will see the appearance of scaly crusts, which will disappear when the attack of the virus ends. However, care should be taken, as shingles can lead to scarring of the skin.

What Causes Shingles During Pregnancy?

As we have mentioned, the Varicella-zoster virus is the cause of shingles. This virus is a type of a herpes virus and an infection that causes chickenpox as well. As the marks from chickenpox are healed, due to the virus retreating into nerve roots, the virus can make its way back into the body years later. Keep in mind that this virus is extremely contagious and thus, you must be careful.

Shingles can be spread if there is direct contact with the lesions, contact with the fluid that is in the blisters, or by touching anything that contains the fluid spots.

Here is a video to tell you whether it is dangerous to be around someone with shingles:

What Complications Do Shingles Cause During Pregnancy?

Complication is the main concern when it comes to shingles and pregnancy. Research has shown that a minimum of one-third of individuals who are suffering from shingles will suffer from serious complications. People with weak immune systems, or those who have suffered from serious diseases such as HIV, are most prone to shingles. For elderly people, who are above the age of sixty, the complications of shingles are more severe. One should contact a doctor immediately, if shingles are seen to be causing any of the following complications.

1. Post Herpetic Neuralgia

As we have highlighted earlier, shingles is a rather painful condition. It is the severe pain that leads people towards visiting the doctor in hopes of receiving treatment that will put an end to shingles. A number of people have described the pain to be similar to the sensation of something brushing against the nerves that are already inflamed and thus, causing unbearable discomfort. It should be kept in mind that even if the rashes have ended, discomfort can be felt for a number of years. This comfort is known as post herpetic neuralgia.

2. Damage to the Eyes

Shingles can cause some complications that last for a number of years. If shingles are mostly present on the face, it can cause damage to the eyes. If shingles are around the eye, it can lead towards a damage of the vision, can cause scarring and even lead to glaucoma, which is an eye disease that can cause blindness in the future.

3. Hearing Problems

Shingles can also cause hearing problems, along with the weakness of certain muscles that are present in the area where the shingles are present. In severe cases, shingles can also damage the spinal cord or the brain and lead to meningitis or even stroke.

How to Treat Shingles During Pregnancy

1. See Your Doctor

Shingles can be treated through a number of ways. You must visit a doctor immediately and be prescribed with the concerned medications as soon as possible. You must follow the schedule of your medications, as prescribed by your doctor, in order to make them completely safe during your pregnancy. One can indulge in taking antiviral drugs, such as Zovirax, Famvir, or Valtrex, which will reduce the condition.

2. OTC Medications

One can also indulge in taking over-the-counter medications to reduce shingles and can also adopt measures at their home to reduce the pain caused by shingles.

3. Home Remedies

  • Put cold compresses on your blisters
  • Wear loose clothing
  • Put gauzes on all the areas where the rashes are present
  • Use calamine lotions, antihistamines
  • Have oatmeal baths to reduce the instances of itching

How to Prevent Shingles During Pregnancy

Shingles and pregnancy can be a cause of concern, however, there are things which you can do to minimize the chances of getting it. As we have mentioned earlier, the virus that causes shingles is extremely contagious. Thus, you must avoid exposure with anyone who has the infection of shingles, especially when you are pregnant. The shingles virus can also cause chickenpox that can lead to chickenpox infections and cause birth defects in your child. Shingles can also pose problems for your child, but the effect is less in severity than that of chickenpox.

1. Get a Blood Test

Individuals can consider getting a blood test done to check if their body contains the antibodies needed to fight off this virus. Once the presence of these antibodies is confirmed, you will be more careful, as you will know that you are more prone to shingles due to the presence of these antibodies. However, these antibodies will help you create resistance agaist catching the virus from someone else.

2. Take a Vaccine

Individuals can get a vaccine, Zostavax, to help prevent the development of the condition of the shingles. The vaccine can reduce the cases of shingles by up to half. However, if people who have had the vaccination get shingles, their severity will be much less. Remember that you must get the vaccine at least three months prior to getting pregnant.