Posted , 20 users are following.
Hi there, I'm a 27 year old female and am on my 4th shingles outbreak in just over 13 months. I am feeling quite low about this and frankly very fed up. I am looking for some advice on how to understand what my potential triggers are, coping strategies, ways in which to prevent further outbreaks and anything else you think could possibly help me, thank you. I'll now give you the history.
I had my first bout of shingles just over a year ago. It appeared on the upper half of my left buttock and tracked horizontally outwards to the distal side of my buttock. At first I thought it was a midgey bite but when the rash began to spread I knew something was wrong. I looked it up online (as you do) and was presented with three possibilites; impetigo, genital herpes or shingles.
I went to the GP who diagnosed shingles. Presentation was inconsistent with impetigo and genital herpes, especially as it was unilateral, localised, tracking a nerve and I have never had herpes 'down there'. It was after the 72 hour period to be able to effectively take antivirals, so I had to wait it out.
Approximately 3-4 months later I had another outbrek. Exacly the same presentation and symptoms. I think this was triggered by sunlight as I'd been sunbathing in my friends (secluded) garden with a thong on - oops. Went to GP who said that shingles categorically can not appear in the same place twice, and that this was likely a herpes infection of the skin. I was confused and asked, 'so like cold sores, or genital herpes?' He said neither, and that although it is rare, it is possible to get herpes infections of the skin. He prescribed me antivirals and gave me a swab to use if I ever had another outbreak.
6 months later and along came another episode in the same spot. I saw yet another GP who diagnosed shingles again. I asked him about the reoccurring in the same place conundrum, and he said that it can happen as it's the nerve that it's stored in and follows the same path, that it can spread but will usually follow the same path; much like cold sores. He gave me antivirals.
Now, almost 4 months later here I am again. Exact same spot again, albeit slight to the right. First cluster appeared more proximal to my buttock crack (sorry, for want of a better word/phrase). As it has been the bank holiday I phoned 111 and was prescribed antivirals again. This time however, they do not seem to be working as well. I have been on them for a little over 48 hours and usually they will have slowed down and will be calming. Throughout today a second cluster has appeared, following the nerve as before. Also, this outbreak is much more itchy than previous ones.
I wasn't particularly worried about this until the 111 GP sounded concerned and asked if this was being investigated. The answer to that is no. I have done some reading and seen that a poor immune system can be to blame, but I have a pretty average immune system. I'm not on chemo and I had my annual STD test last year just before all this started which included a test for HIV and all came back negative. I do have B12 Deficiency but am having 3 monthly injections for it so not sure if that's anything to do with it?
Over these episodes I am beginning to form a picture of when I'm about to have an outbreak and am quick to act on it now. The hardest and not always most identifiable sign is tiredness about a week before. As I said I'm B12 deficient and am a university student so can become fatigued quickly, so usually assume that this is why I'm tired. Then the day before an outbreak I have a very tender left labia (feelsa like someone has kicked me in the crotch) and a swollen gland in my left groin. Tender where your bottom meets your top of the back of the leg and a really tender spot on my buttock precisely underneath where the rash appears - no generalised tenderness, just right over that exact spot. Then the itching creeps in and then the rash. Afterwards is when I realise that must be why I was so tired. Usually the rash is not painful at all and only slightly itchy. This time it has been very very itchy indeed. Still no pain but ruddy itchy!
I have not managed to use the swab from the previous GP as I have always managed to get antivirals in time and I don't realy fancy deliberately popping a blister to get a swab - I imagine that would hurt like no-one's business!!!
Today one of my friends basically said I was too young to have shingles, have had suspiciously too many outbreaks and basically made me feel like a leper and it was somehow my fault. Does anyone have any advice, hints and tips or words of comfort for me? I am well and truly fed up and feel so down
Thank you xxxx
3 likes, 38 replies