Infection of any kind during a pregnancy can be worrisome. In particular infections such as shingles during pregnancy can be worrying due to their potential to cause birth defects in the unborn child.
Shingles (also known as herpes zoster) as well as chicken pox, are caused by the same virus, which is varicella-zoster virus (VZV) and both could cause problems.
So how common is shingles during pregnancy?
It is important to remember that shingles during pregnancy is quite rare, and is far from common.
In particular if a woman has had chicken pox during her childhood years, then it is even more unlikely that she will develop shingles during pregnancy since the immune system would have the requisite antibodies to suppress the infection.
What are the symptoms of shingles during pregnancy?
Feelings of tingling, itchiness, burning and sharp shooting pains located on either side of the body or the face are among the first symptoms.
Chills, nausea, diarrhea, and rashes that are red and bumpy, with fluid filled sores are other symptoms of shingles during pregnancy. Even after the rash has subsided, some sufferers still experience pain at that site.
What are the possible consequences of shingles during pregnancy?
There is the apprehension that the unborn child will be born with certain abnormalities of birth defects if the mother contracts shingles when pregnant. While this can happen, the likelihood is higher if the infection occurs before you reach 30 weeks pregnant.
After this time the risk is minimal, though expert opinions do differ in this point. In fact rather than the child, shingles during pregnancy is more likely to harm the mother; complications leading from the primary infection as well as susceptibility to other infections in that weakened state are the greater risks.
What treatment is prescribed for shingles during pregnancy?
If a case of shingles is suspected it is important to report this to a doctor as soon as possible so that correct diagnosis and prompt treatment can be initiated. Oral anti viral medications are usually prescribed for treatment – this reduces the severity of the symptoms and also helps to lower chances of complications arising from the infection. In addition, pain relief medication also helps relieve the pain of shingles during pregnancy.
Cold compresses, calamine applications, loose clothing to facilitate airing and healing of the sores and prevent irritation can all help to relieve the symptoms. Pain medications should always be taken only after consultation with a doctor since some are unsuitable for taking during pregnancy.