Can You Workout With Shingles And Does It Help?

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Can you exercise with shingles?

A shingles infection will undoubtedly affect your daily routine and exercise regimen, so most people ask: can you exercise with shingles?

Start with gentle exercises such as stretching or walking if you're planning to exercise. Avoid activities that are strenuous or too extreme. It becomes difficult to exercise when you have shingles since you may feel fatigued. Get enough rest and sleep to reduce the disease's symptoms. Follow relaxation techniques to help you manage stress and maintain a healthy state.

Shingles and sweating

Sweating does not affect the healing of the shingles rash. You should avoid scratching the rash region, as doing so may result in a skin infection or scarring after the blisters have healed. 

Precautions for working out with shingles

Exercise should ideally not be done in public spaces like gyms or swimming pools due to the viral nature of this condition. When you have a rash, you are contagious and may infect someone that hasn't yet had chickenpox. Here are some things to remember when exercising with shingles:

  • Avoid strenuous workouts. Make sure you refrain from subjecting yourself to any stressful exercise routines. The effects of exercise on immunity are vast, and excessive endurance exercise may paradoxically suppress immune responses.

  • Choose loosely fitting clothing. By wearing loose pajamas and t-shirts, you can work out freely and without restrictions. It is also advisable to wear cotton or linen clothing.

  • Dry your blisters. Before exercising in a public area, ensure your blisters have started healing, scabbed over, and dried out. Keep the rash covered to prevent the spreading of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV).

  • Minimize friction. Apply powder to blisters before exercising to help decrease friction between your skin and clothing. Calamine lotion is also another option for soothing your skin.

  • Stop scratching blisters. Keep the rash clean to prevent infection, and make an effort not to scratch it to avoid scarring. Always wash your hands when you touch the rash or blisters.

Working out with shingles

Most individuals need to realize that working out improves their health. It can help you stay healthy and keep you physically fit. However, you should not exert yourself while working out when you have shingles. Stick to simple routines that do not put too much stress on the body.

Yoga and shingles

Facial exercises will help strengthen and tone your facial muscles. Yoga also reduces stress, stretches your body, and keeps you relaxed. 

What causes shingles outbreaks?

Shingles are caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is also responsible for chickenpox. Varicella-zoster virus belongs to the herpes virus family. This is the same family of viruses that causes cold sores and genital herpes. As a result, herpes zoster is another name for shingles.

Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk of developing shingles. The virus penetrates your nervous system during the chickenpox infection and remains dormant indefinitely. The virus can reactivate and move through nerve connections to your skin, causing shingles. However, not everyone who has chickenpox develops shingles.

If you have shingles, direct contact with the fluid from your rash blisters can transfer VZV to persons who have never had chickenpox or have not gotten the chickenpox vaccination. If they contract the infection, they will have chickenpox rather than shingles. Later in life, they might acquire shingles.

What are the symptoms of shingles?

The main sign of shingles is discomfort and pain, followed by an itchy, blister-like rash. New blisters form for a few days but turn yellow, flatten out, and dry out shortly after. Scabs later replace the blisters, which may leave some scarring. The degree of pain can range from mild to severe, and it may be persistent. Pain typically precedes the rash by 2–3 days. You might sometimes experience sharp pains, with the skin near the rash becoming tender.

Shingles may have early symptoms on some occasions that develop before the rash appears. These symptoms can include:

  • Headache

  • Itchiness or numbness of the skin

  • Fever

  • The feeling of being ill

Normally, shingles last 2–4 weeks, although, in some instances, the pain can last for several weeks after the rash has healed. Shingles typically affect a specific part of one side of your body (single dermatome). Although any portion of your body, like the face or eyes, might be infected, the chest and abdomen are the most affected regions.

Treatment for shingles

Shingles infection is not a cause for alarm, but it is crucial to note that it has no cure. Treatments like antiviral medicines help blisters to heal and reduce pain. Shingles are treatable at home. Your doctor will prescribe an antiviral medication when the first signs of shingles occur to stop the virus from multiplying. If you experience intense pain, your doctor might recommend painkillers. 

Shingles prevention

If you have ever suffered from chickenpox, you are at a higher risk of contracting shingles. The CDC and the ACIP recommend the shingles vaccine to help prevent shingles and reduce the effects it causes. The shingles vaccine is administered in two doses and should be given to adults 50 years and older or those 18 and older with certain risk factors.

The shingles vaccination is available in select pharmacies or at your health center.

The lowdown

Contracting shingles may disrupt most of your daily routines, making your life more challenging. However, doing exercises to help reduce stress and achieve inner peace is beneficial. Even though you can still exercise with shingles, ensure you avoid strenuous activity.

Shingles will heal independently after a few weeks, but if the condition persists, see a doctor immediately.

Frequently asked questions

Can you do regular activities with shingles?

How you feel will determine if you can carry on with your normal activities while having a shingles infection. Mild symptoms are easily manageable, but when you experience severe pain, it becomes difficult to perform some activities.

What triggers shingles flare-ups?

The varicella-zoster virus will remain dormant in your body after recovery from shingles or chickenpox. When you have a weakened or compromised immune system, you are at a higher risk of contracting shingles again. Other risk factors include certain cancers, chemotherapy, or HIV.

Do you need to rest with shingles?

Rest is important when you have a shingles infection. It allows the rashes time to heal and the immune system to function properly to get the viral infection under control.

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