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Shingles in Seniors: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

The varicella-zoster virus is responsible for the viral infection known as shingles. It is typical in seniors and is also referred to as herpes zoster. The condition can result in blisters and a painful rash lasting several weeks. You may be asking, what exactly causes shingles to happen? When a person is infected by the varicella-zoster virus early on in their life (usually in childhood), this causes chickenpox. After recovering from chickenpox, the virus doesn’t leave but, instead, stays dormant within a person’s nervous system.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of all cases of shingles occur in people over 60. This happens due to a senior’s immune system weakening as they age. When a senior’s immunity is weak, the varicella-zoster virus will find it easier to reactivate and cause shingles.

Symptoms of Shingles in Seniors

Understanding these symptoms can aid seniors in noticing the early symptoms of shingles and seeking medical attention early for immediate treatment and management of symptoms.


A rash might develop on the skin after a few days of discomfort. On one side of the body, the rash typically appears as a band or a stripe.


Pain in the impacted area is frequently the first sign of shingles. This discomfort can range from mild to severe and last for several days.


Fluid-filled blisters, which can be extremely painful and itchy, may also appear along the rash. These blisters are hallmark symptoms of shingles and can be very painful and itchy for seniors.

Headache and Fever

Shingles can produce a number of additional symptoms, such as headaches and fever, in addition to the typical rash and blisters. Depending on the person, and the severity of the infection, these symptoms can range in intensity and duration.


Fatigue is a common symptom of shingles and can range from mild to severe. Seniors with shingles may feel tired and sluggish and may have difficulty completing everyday tasks. In some cases, fatigue can be so severe that it interferes with daily activities and makes it difficult to get out of bed.

Treatment Options for Shingles in Seniors

While there is no cure for shingles, there are several treatment options available to help manage symptoms and promote healing. These treatment options can help seniors recover more quickly and prevent complications such as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN).

The treatment options for seniors with shingles include:

Antiviral Medications

These medications can help to reduce the severity and duration of shingles rash, as well as the pain associated with it. Seniors who suspect they have shingles should get medical help right away because antiviral medications work best when taken within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms.

Pain Relievers

Seniors with shingles may experience severe pain, particularly in the area of the rash. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen, two over-the-counter painkillers, can help manage this discomfort, but in some circumstances, prescription-strength painkillers may be required.

Topical Creams

Creams or ointments containing capsaicin or lidocaine can be applied directly to the affected area to help relieve pain and itching.

Cool Compresses

Applying cool, damp compresses to the affected area can help soothe itching and reduce inflammation.

Rest and Relaxation

Seniors with shingles should rest and avoid overexertion, as fatigue and weakness can make it more difficult to fight off the infection.

Healthy Diet and Hydration

Consuming a balanced diet and drinking plenty of water can support the immune system and speed up recovery.


For people over the age of 50, shingles vaccine is offered. If someone contracts shingles, this vaccine may help to prevent it or lessen the severity of their symptoms.

Seniors are susceptible to the painful and uncomfortable condition of shingles. Blisters, rash, and pain are just a few symptoms that the infection can produce. Seniors with shingles may need medication to treat their symptoms, and there is a vaccine available to prevent the condition. Seniors can lower their risk of shingles and other infections by leading a healthy lifestyle and controlling their stress. If you are a senior experiencing shingles symptoms, you should see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and course of treatment.

Unified Pledge offers in-home senior care to provide the best care and service for every senior client. Unified Pledge Home Health provides a FREE consultation. Talk to them about your situation and explore your options.

Hiring professionals from Unified Pledge comes with the following advantages:

  • Level II FBI background checks of all caregivers

  • Driving history checks

  • Constant communication to patients, family, and care team

  • Registered Nurse supervision is ongoing with every care plan

Contact us today for a FREE consultation by a Supervisory Nurse at 561-800-4581.



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