"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Celebrities get shingles too.

Follow me on Twitter. @RobShmerling

You can have heard the news recently that Lin-Manuel Miranda has shingles. The headlines announced this in alternative ways:

  • Hamilton Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda suffers from shingles (New York Daily News)
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda has shingles. Her child should be quarantined (Aaj.com).
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda has blurred vision, regrets joke about blurred vision (CBS News)

Without further information, these headlines may leave you wondering: Is this a serious condition? Is it dangerous for youngsters? Can it cause blindness?

What is shingles?

The term “shingles” refers to a painful rash attributable to infection with the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), a member of the herpes family of viruses. A typical rash normally results in a fast diagnosis—groups of small fluid-filled “bubbles” or blisters which are confined to 1 area of ​​skin. However, the rash could also be preceded by a burning pain on the skin, fever, fatigue, or headache. Miranda reportedly thought he was having a migraine when he began having one.

VZV is the virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who has had chickenpox (normally as a toddler) can have the virus hiding within the nerves under the skin. Years later it could break out on the skin as shingles. This name comes from Latin. cingulumWhich means belt. The rash of shingles often spreads over a patch of skin in a pattern that resembles a belt.

Shingles are quite common. According to the CDCAbout one in three people will develop shingles of their lifetime. But the chance shouldn’t be random. It is more common in people over the age of fifty and people with weakened immune systems. Other celebrities who’ve been reported to have suffered from shingles include Roseanne Barr, Richard Nixon and Robin Williams.

Is it contagious?

Quick disease Is Contagious. A one who has not had chickenpox up to now and shouldn’t be fully vaccinated against chickenpox can get chickenpox in the event that they are in close contact with someone who has shingles. Two doses of the chickenpox vaccine are really helpful for youngsters between 12 and 15 months of age and 4 to six years of age. That's why Miranda was “quarantined” from her 8-week-old son, who (presumably) didn't have chicken pox and is just too young to receive the vaccination. Once the rash goes away, normally inside seven to 10 days, shingles is taken into account much less contagious.

Complications of Shingles

Complications occur in about one in 10 individuals who get shingles. These include:

  • Persistent pain in the realm of ​​the rash (called postherpetic neuralgia), even after the rash has disappeared.
  • Infection and inflammation of the attention, which, although rare, can result in vision loss.
  • Ear inflammation and pain
  • Meningitis (inflammation of the liner of the brain)
  • Bacterial skin infection

Concerns about her vision loss were real for Miranda when she tweeted that her vision was blurry. He later clarified that it was because he had dilated his pupils for a watch exam, not due to an infection.

Prevention and treatment of shingles

Horns might be prevented. The shingles vaccine is currently really helpful for people age 50 and older. People with weakened immune systems shouldn’t take it. It shouldn’t be 100% effective, but individuals who develop shingles despite the vaccine have a rather shorter duration of rash and a lower incidence of complications (especially postherpetic neuralgia).

Also, if enough people get vaccinated for chicken pox, the frequency of shingles may decrease. Evidence for this will not be available for a few years, because the time lag between chickenpox and shingles might be many years, and the chickenpox vaccine only became widely available within the mid-Nineties.

Treatment for shingles includes an antiviral medication (similar to acyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir) and pain medication (similar to a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, tramadol, or oxycodone).

The bottom line

Shingles is a standard disease that might be reduced with a recently developed vaccine. For most individuals, this can be a painful but temporary problem. When complications arise, it could be overwhelming. Check together with your doctor about vaccinations for chicken pox and shingles, an unexplained rash, or in the event you've been exposed to someone with shingles. Hopefully we'll know soon if Miranda makes a speedy and full recovery.