The Do’s and Don’ts of Exercising With Shingles

Shingle is an infection that is caused by the Varicella zoster virus. It is the same virus that is responsible for chickenpox. 

It usually causes a notorious rash that can occur in any part of your body. But the rashes are usually limited to one side of the body.

So, you might have questions like, Can you exercise with shingles

Nutrisystem

Well, the answer is yes. You most definitely can. However, you need to be cautious of what type of exercise you are doing. Lightweight and less vigorous exercises are the way to go. Though shingles aren’t known to be life-threatening. However, this condition can be quite painful. 

In this article, we have mentioned the dos and don’ts while exercising with shingles. We have also mentioned a few ways to soothe that notoriously painful rash. 

If you are someone who is affected with shingles then you might be concerned if sweating due to exercise will affect your shingles.

Can You Exercise With Shingles?

Shingles can cause quite a few annoying signs and symptoms. But the most significant one is the painful rash and blister. 

It can spread in different places of the body. The pain can be quite unbearable. Along with pain. There can be fatigue, fever, etc.

The pain can limit your day-to-day life. However, that does not mean that you have to be stuck between the four walls of your home. You can definitely get moving and take part in some lightweight or freehand exercises. 

can-you-exercise-with-shingles

However, you have to make sure that you don’t overexert yourself. 

Vigorous exercises should be avoided by all means. You can choose Tai Chi, yoga, and light swimming as exercise routines. You may switch your tight workout gear with loosely fitted clothes. 

Tight clothes can cause abrasions on the rashes and can make them more painful. 

With the proper guidance of your doctor, you should most definitely perform exercises. It helps to boost up your immunity. A charged-up immunity will most definitely help fight off the virus.

Shingles and Sweating

Sweating is definitely a by-product of exercising. No matter what kind of exercise you perform you are bound to be a little sweaty. 

If you are someone who is affected with shingles then you might be concerned if sweating due to exercise will affect your shingles. Well, sweating necessarily does not trigger shingles. However, vigorous exercise can trigger the notorious condition. 

shingles-and-sweating

The pain can worsen and cause a burning sensation on the areas of the rashes. The symptoms can be accompanied by fatigue, and stiffness of muscles.

Also, most of us have a tendency to take a steaming hot shower after a tough workout. 

If you have shingles then you should think again. Hot water can cause a flare-up of the rash. It can also worsen the pain. You should only take cold showers that would soothe the rashes.

Things to Consider While Exercising with Shingles

Shingles are quite a painful condition. The shingles rash can be notorious and can hamper daily activities. But, that does not mean you have to limit your activities. You can most definitely participate in exercising. However, there are some things you should keep in mind. We have listed them as follows:

  • You have to make sure you do not participate in any strenuous exercise. Stressful exercises tend to make you sweat too much. You may also get dehydrated. These would affect your immunity. This might deteriorate your condition.
  • Be mindful of your attire. Maybe ditch that skin-tight workout outfit and swipe it with some loose-fitting clothes. Tight clothes may restrain your movements during exercise. Loose T-shirts and pajamas should be comfortable. You should choose fabrics like linen or cotton.
  • You should wait until your blisters have dried out and scabs have fallen off before going into any kind of strenuous physical activity.
  • Yoga, Tai Chi, and swimming are a few good options that you can consider. Tai Chi and Yoga are slow and relaxing exercises that would help you release stress. Swimming in cool water would be quite relaxing and soothing as well.
  • Consider getting a treatment plan from your doctor before starting to exercise. You can apply colloidal powders, calamine on your rashes that would soothe the pain. It would reduce abrasion. This would prevent the condition from deteriorating.

Risk Factors Behind Shingles

Shingles can happen to anyone. But, some people are more susceptible to the condition than others. 

If you are taking drugs that prevent a transplanted organ from being rejected by your body then you might develop shingles as a side effect.

The people are considered within the risk group. People who have the following criteria should be more careful while considering exercising with a history of shingles.

Old Age

People with old age are susceptible to many conditions. Shingles are one of them. 

If a person has suffered from chickenpox during their childhood then they have a greater chance of developing shingles at old age. People aged 50 and above are considered a risk group for shingles.

Comorbidities

People with underlying comorbidities are at risk of developing shingles more. 

Comorbidities tend to weaken the immune system. This in turn allows other infections to flare up. If someone has a history of cancer or HIV infection then they have compromised immunity. Shingles may develop in the case of such patients.

Cancer Treatment

Radiation and chemotherapy are the go-to treatment regime for cancer. 

They do treat cancer, however, on the contrary, they reduce one’s immunity. This makes them susceptible to many opportunistic infections. This may trigger infections like shingles.

Drug Reactions

Certain drugs can cause your shingles to get worse. If you are taking drugs that prevent a transplanted organ from being rejected by your body then you might develop shingles as a side effect. 

Other than that, prolonged use of steroid medication like prednisone can cause shingles flare-ups.

Exercising With Shingles and Complications

If you are not careful enough, exercising with shingles can cause a bad flare-up. 

It may deteriorate your condition. Which can often lead to complications. Below we have mentioned a few complications of shingles/

Postherpetic Neuralgia (PHN)

Postherpetic neuralgia is one of the most concerning complications of shingles. 

In the case of some of the patients, the pain may continue even after the rash has cleared up. This is known as Postherpetic Neuralgia

This usually occurs when the Varicella zoster virus causes nerve damage. These damaged nerves send confusing signals to the brain from the skin. The brain picks the sensation as pain.

Loss of Vision

If you are not careful enough then shingles can have adverse effects like vision loss. 

The shingles might be affecting in and around the eye. This can damage the optic nerve and cause a painful condition. This condition might lead to loss of vision.

Avoid long hours of stressful work and take small breaks of rest. Proper rest and sleep help maintain your immune system, and in turn, helps you heal faster.

Neurological Damage

Shingles can cause neurological damage which can lead to different kinds of inflammation. 

It can damage the brain and cause encephalitis. It can also cause facial paralysis as well as problems with your hearing and equilibrium.

Skin Problems

Shingles blisters can be quite painful and notorious. They should be treated immediately adequately. 

If not treated properly, shingles blisters can lead to secondary bacterial skin infections. 

Ways to Soothe Shingles

The best way to soothe your symptoms is to get treated by a physician. 

A proper treatment regimen can help alleviate your symptoms. However, a patient can take a few steps which might help soothe this painful condition.

Rest and Sleep

Nothing can help more in healing than proper rest and sleep. Make sure to get proper sleep every night. 

Avoid long hours of stressful work and take small breaks of rest. Proper rest and sleep help maintain your immune system, and in turn, helps you heal faster.

Cold Compress

Applying a cold compress to your rashes and blisters should provide you with some pain relief. 

You can dip a towel in cold water or wrap some ice cubes in a towel and gently press on the rashes. The pain should be significantly reduced. Avoid using a cold compress if you have applied medications on the rashes.

Oatmeals

Oatmeals are a superfood and do more than just take care of your gut health. 

oatmeals

Oatmeals can be found as colloidal oatmeals. These are oats ground to a fine powder. Make a paste out of it and apply it generously to your rashes. This should reduce the itchiness and inflammation. 

Stress Reduction

It is important that you should reduce your stress. The more stressed you are, the more is the chance of your shingles flaring up. 

Maintain a healthy lifestyle, try meditating. Deep breathing exercises help immensely with stress relief.

Loose Clothing

Try wearing loose clothing. Loose clothes help maintain ventilation. It also helps prevent the abrasion of rashes and blisters. 

This would avoid brushing the skin and provide comfort. Consider wearing lightweight and breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, etc.

Calamine Lotion

Calamine lotions are an over-the-counter preparation that you can get anywhere. Apply it to the rashes and blisters. It should calm down the itching and provide a soothing feeling afterward.

calamine-lotion

Treatment of Shingles

It is best to consult your doctor for treatment. They might run some tests and provide you with a proper treatment regimen. 

The treatment varies according to the patient. They might suggest the following medication to you.

Antiviral Drugs

Antiviral drugs are provided to control the virus causing the condition and to prevent the condition from deteriorating. 

Acyclovir, Valacyclovir, famciclovir, and many other antivirals are available for the treatment of shingles.

Anticonvulsants are mainly suggested for epilepsy. But in rare cases, it is prescribed for shingles as they have proven to reduce nerve pain. 

Antihistamines and Analgesics 

Painkillers and antihistamines might be prescribed for the rashes. Ibuprofen is usually suggested as an anti-inflammatory drug. 

antihistamines

Antihistamines like diphenhydramine are suggested for the itching. Corticosteroids and numbing products like lidocaine are suggested for the pain.

Antidepressants

Antidepressant drugs are sometimes suggested for shingles pain. 

Tricyclic antidepressants like imipramine, amitriptyline, nortriptyline, etc are suggested. These take a few weeks to be effective and are prescribed in severe cases like Postherpetic Neuralgia. 

Anticonvulsants

Anticonvulsants are mainly suggested for epilepsy. But in rare cases, it is prescribed for shingles as they have proven to reduce nerve pain. 

Gabapentin and pregabalin are a few considerable drugs.

FAQs

Can you run with shingles?

There isn’t any particular contraindication to running while suffering from shingles, it is not encouraged. Running can cause abrasion and scratches on the blisters and rashes. This can cause severe discomfort. It can also cause excessive sweating which can infect open wounds.

It is suggested that you run after you see significant progress in your healing.

How many days rest for shingles?

In most cases for the rashes to appear and dry up and start healing, all of this takes 3 – 5 weeks. People with a competent immune system may recover within 2 weeks. The recovery period varies from person to person. The rashes usually appear 1 to 5 days from the initial infection.

Can you do normal activities with Shingles?

Of course. Why not? Do as much as your body allows you to do. Do not overexert yourself. Take proper rest if you are feeling fatigued. It is okay to ask for assistance while you are in a vulnerable condition.

Is heat bad for the shingles?

Yes. Heat can cause your skin condition to deteriorate. Your skin is already inflamed due to shingles. The heat would cause the inflammation to increase. So, it is advised to stay at a soothing temperature that is not too hot or not too cold. Avoid extreme weather and hot showers.

What should I avoid if I have shingles?

People who have shingles should avoid an excessive amount of arginine in their diet. Arginine is a type of amino acid. The foods that you should avoid are nuts, seeds, soybean, tuna, egg, chicken, tofu, garlic, whole grain wheat, onion. Chocolates, etc. 

Final Words

Shingles is a notorious, itchy painful rash that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus responsible for chickenpox. The rashes can be quite painful and can hamper daily activities. Naturally, it might raise questions like, can you exercise with shingles?

Well, the answer is yes. You most definitely can. However, you should not go overboard and stick to light exercises. You must take proper rest and maintain precautions.

Sabriha Hasan

Sabriha Hasan

I'm Sabriha Hasan, a 3rd year medical student from Armed Forces Medical College. I chose to study medicine to do something for the greater good and to use my skills and knowledge to provide relief to those who are suffering. Writing is second nature to me. I always try to provide readers with necessary information that would not only quench their thirst for knowledge but also help them in long run.

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