Living With Shingles: A Guide

Hello, if you’re reading this, you have shingles (or will soon catch shingles from a friend or coworker due to the highly contagious nature of shingles). Here’s everything you need to know!

What is shingles?

Shingles (also known as zosta) is essentially the reawakening of the chicken pox virus within your body. It will manifest in a rash on one side of the shoulders, back or neck which will be very painful. The rash will appear small and acne-like. Do not let it’s size fool you; shingles hurts bad. The other main symptom is malaise, which generally just means feeling shitty. Really.

The first cut is the deepest? Well, the second bout of shingles is the worst.

Is it contagious?

Shingles is contagious, but only to people who haven’t contracted chicken pox or who haven’t been vaccinated against chicken pox. This will in no way comfort your terrified roommates.

How do I treat it?

Using antivirals such as aciclovir will help reduce the severity and duration of shingles[1]. To reduce the pain of shingles, rub some capsaicin cream on it[2].

Can I drink while taking antivirals?

While it may be your 21st birthday and you want to just relax by enjoying two drinks because you have a final the next morning, don’t. Even though the doctor said it should be fine, you’ll get really drunk just from a beer and whiskey sour and you’ll feel really hung over during your planetary final but it won’t be that bad because you’ll still get an A in it.

How long will this last?

The pain should only last about a week (basically, until you’re in enough pain that you go see a doctor, then it’ll stop), but the rash should stick around for about three weeks. But don’t get complacent, it’s totally possible that you’ll get shingles again only 6 months later.

What are some good pickup lines to use while I have shingles?

“What say you come over to my place and rub some capsaicin on my shoulders? Because you’re single, and I’ve got shingles”

“Is your dad a roofer? Because… I have shingles.”

“Where all my shingle ladies at?”

“Yo girl, those dance moves are on fire! Also, my nerves are too.”

“Shingles totally isn’t contagious if you’ve already had chicken pox!”

How can I change the photo on the wikipedia page for shingles to one of me?

While this is an awesome idea and I encourage you to try your best, you won’t be able to figure it out. I mean,  they’d have no reason to take it down if you simply replaced an existing photo of a dude with shingles. Please try! But you’ll give up after an hour because do you really care that much about putting yourself as the face (but mostly back and shoulders) of shingles?

1 If you googled “aciclovir”, you will discover another name for that antiviral is herpex. Yes, chicken pox and shingles and herpes are all in the same family of disease. Yes I know, its hilarious.
2 If you googled “capsaicin”, you will discover that capsaicin is derived from chili peppers and is the main ingredient of pepper spray. Yes, the severe burning of the irritant is so strong that it temporarily shuts down the nerve endings in the your skin. Yes I know, its awesome.

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