"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 brought on by infection with the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), a member of the herpes family of viruses. A typical rash often results in a fast diagnosis—groups of small fluid-filled “bubbles” or blisters which might be 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 (often as a toddler) can have the virus hiding within the nerves under the skin. Years later it will possibly 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 will not 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 previously and will not 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 chickenpox vaccine are really helpful for youngsters between 12 and 15 months and 4 and 6 years of age. That's why Miranda was “quarantined” from her 8-week-old son, who (presumably) didn't have chicken pox and is simply too young to receive the vaccination. Once the rash goes away, often 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 world 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 Miranda's vision loss were real 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 will be prevented. The shingles vaccine is currently really helpful for people age 50 and older. People with weakened immune systems mustn't take it. It will not 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 likely not be available for a few years, because the time lag between chickenpox and shingles will be a long time, and the chickenpox vaccine only became widely available within the mid-Nineteen Nineties.

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

The bottom line

Shingles is a typical disease that will be reduced with a recently developed vaccination. For most individuals, it is a painful but temporary problem. When complications arise, it will possibly be overwhelming. Ask your doctor about vaccinations for chicken pox and shingles, an unexplained rash, or if you might have been in touch with someone with shingles. Hopefully we'll know soon if Miranda makes a speedy and full recovery.