What started as a minor tenderness on my scalp turned into a full blown experience with the shingles virus.
It was a little over a week ago when I woke up with my scalp feeling sore and tender. I thought I had gotten bitten by a spider or that my pony tail was too tight from the day prior. Once my scalp actually began to hurt when I would brush my hair, I became concerned and confused. A couple days later, I noticed a redness appearing over my left eyebrow and another lesion forming on the corner of my outer eyelid. I immediately thought it was some sort of strange rash or fungal infection which my dermatologist could quickly provide clarity for. The next day, I woke up to my left eye very swollen along with the redness above my eyebrow resembling small blisters.
I immediately texted pictures of my face to my dad who is a general surgeon. He agreed that it could be a fungal infection and called me in some meds to my local pharmacy. About 30 minutes after getting off the phone with him, he called me back to tell me it could very well be the shingles virus. I said “shingles?! But I’m only 30 years old.” Apparently, the shingles virus does indeed affect my age group and even younger adults as it’s not only older folks in their 50’s, 60’s, +.
I had no idea what to expect but I knew that I needed a specific medicine to treat my symptoms… ASAP. Luckily, a family friend who is a dermatologist recommended the drug Valtrex for my dad to call in for me. I began taking the medicine right away, hoping the rash would disappear as quickly as it had presented itself. The next day, my eye was even more swollen and painful. After reading article after article about the shingles virus, I learned that it sits on nerves and as a result, we break out into a blistery rash. Our main concern was the virus affecting the nerves behind my eye which could lead to eye damage and even vision loss. Now, I was freaking out.
My dad told me to see an internist right away as they could provide me with some insight and instruction. So I made an immediate appointment — 7:30am the next day appointment!!
My internist confirmed that it was indeed the shingles virus and she’s seen it before in people in their 20’s. 20’s!! Like why? She asked me if I’ve been super stressed and honestly, I don’t feel like I’ve been THAT stressed. Yes, there’s been a lot going on since March 2020 (COVID, losing my job b/c of COVID, a family member’s passing, starting a new business, moving… I could go on & on) so I do feel that everything built up and came to a head.
After seeing my internist, I went to see an ophthalmologist to make sure that everything was OK with my eye. She looked all over my eyeball and told me that all looked good; however, there were lesions very close to my eye so she prescribed me eye ointment to rub onto my eyeball a few times a day to keep my eye protected. The plus side is that she told me I have 20/20 vision! Holla!!!
So, after experiencing the shingles virus for the first time (and hopefully last time) in my life, I have 5 tips for anyone who ever thinks they are coming down with shingles and what to do next:
- Read About The Virus.
For those who have no idea what the shingles virus is, shingles is a viral infection that results into a painful rash. If you’ve had chickenpox, the shingles virus lives inside you. I always compare it to a dormant volcano waiting to erupt. What causes the virus? Stress. At least, that’s what we know thus far.
- Act Quickly.
Call or see your doctor as soon as you think you may have the shingles virus. The sooner you start taking meds, the better. I was prescribed to Valtrex which I started taking at the beginning of my outbreak so it really helped ease my symptoms and shorten the duration of my experience with shingles.
- Cold Compresses Are A Must.
Most people develop the outbreak of shingles around their waist but in my case, it was my scalp, forehead and eye which were affected. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to soak your shingles when they are on your head instead of your body so for me, I found that cold compresses were very helpful. I would wet a washcloth and put it in the freezer for 10 minutes. It felt so relieving and helped with the pain and the itching.
- Eat Nutritious, Immune-Boosting Foods.
I am a firm believer that we can cure most ailments with the right foods. At the beginning of my outbreak, I knew I needed something anti-inflammatory to help with the pain and swelling. I drank a ton of celery juice which is great for reducing inflammation and fighting infections. In addition to the celery juice, I prepared a delicious, homemade pho which was packed with powerful spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, star anise, clove and fresh herbs. I swear, after eating 3 bowls of this pho recipe, I immediately felt so much better. You can see the recipe to my low-carb, homemade pho here!
- Get The Vaccine As Soon As You Can!
Strangely, only those who are 50 years of age or older can easily go get the shingles vaccine at their local pharmacy. This is ridiculous if people my age and even younger are already getting shingles. My doctor wrote me a prescription to get the shingles vaccine which I’ll be doing ASAP. If you’ve had shingles before, you are more susceptible to getting it again. So it’s highly recommended to take action as soon as you can and get the vaccine.
After about 10 days of experiencing the shingles, I’m feeling much better and my left eye is looking normal again. Although I still have some scabs which need to heal, I feel as though the worst is over and I’m on the upswing. This has been quite the experience for me and I hope to never have shingles again. It’s important that we take care of our minds as well as our bodies. If you’re feeling super stressed, try to do anything you need to decompress and re-set whether that’s taking a time out to breath or meditate, taking a vacation, treating yourself to a massage or spa day, or simply relaxing on the couch with your favorite food and watching your favorite show.
I hope my story helps those who may possibly be going through the same thing. 🙂