You may have heard this term before when referencing a goose or duck egg sitting under a heat lamp or nested within a chamber. It refers to a period where an organism must wait and prepare for its activities. It often refers to a period where a source of warmth is needed for bird and reptile eggs to heat them up until full development so they can hatch.
What is an incubation period?
The terminology can be applied to medical cases as well. This is the official name for the elapsed time between an individual’s exposure to a pathogenic organism, radioactivity, or harmful chemicals (like carcinogens) and when they begin to display symptoms. This is very typical to a viral infection. During this time, the genomes of the virus are beginning to replicate within host cells. The infected cell will produce cytokines (like interferon) to alert their neighbors and even distant comrades that something is peculiar or funky.
These may lead to those classical signs you relate to infection like malaise (atmosphere of dejection), aches, nausea, fever, fatigue. These are prodrome. Prodromal means they are a response of an acute infection rather than those specific to the particular infection. Incubation periods vary. Viruses like influenza are pretty short where HIV is longer.
Are you Contagious during an incubation period?
Whether or not a virus is shedding or transmissible during the incubation period will depend on the nature of the virus. The ebolavirus, the pathogen which causes hemorrhagic Ebola, cannot pass the disease to others while it incubates. The poliovirus and norovirus can do this. The varicella zoster virus (VZV) is interesting due to different attributes to contagion. An individual with chickenpox can transmit the virus one to two days before showing the observable rashes or blisters (around the time of expected rash onset). When the virus manifests as herpes zoster or shingles, you don’t need to worry.
What is the incubation period for shingles?
The incubation period for shingles and chicken pox is 14 to 16 days after exposure. Where chickenpox is highly transmittable and spreadable through close contact alone, it’s more difficult to contract an illness from a shingles outbreak. When you have a shingles flare up, the only manner in which you can contract anything is through direct fluid contact. The fluids on the blisters of infected regions are filled with contagion. Direct contact with them and an open wound are needed to spread the chickenpox to the next victim.
What does shingles look like
While you may initially report feeling a bit unwell and suffering from symptoms characteristic to your run of the mill cold or flu, the rash is the trademark symptom. Sores will cover infected areas and transform into liquid filled blisters. The skin will appear very red and irritated. Clusters of blisters should be contained in a particular area.
The affected area will be a function of the location where the dormant chickenpox virus has been waiting since the initial outbreak. This could be anywhere from the face, foot, or stomach area. If you are curious to understand what shingles looks like, you can refer to medical texts or online.
What does shingles feel like
If you check out those images, you may think they look itchy. That is exactly what shingles feels like. The itching is generally very severe, especially if it is in a particularly irritable region near hair or one often covered by your outfit. Additionally, it is reported to be incredibly painful. The sores and blisters are said to bring about a lot of pain, even when it causes them to feel numb or tingly. A burning sensation can be felt even before the rash forms. In addition to dermal disturbances, you basically feel sick all around.
What is the shingles virus and treatments?
If you believe you may be suffering from shingles, contact a doctor immediately. What is difficult with the shingles virus is it is a contagious diseases. You recovering is a matter of public health and physicians suggest early intervention leads to the best results. If left untreated, complications may arise or you may experience scarring or prolonged infection.
Antirivals can be administered which will shorten your recovery time and make you noninfectious earlier. If the itchiness or painful feelings are overwhelming, prescription level creams, ointments, and other topical treatments are on the market. These have been empirically proven to relieve a lot of the annoying symptoms.
Treating these components will also limit the temptation you have to scratch and potentially further damage the infected areas. Damaging the wounds can increase chances of scarring, secondary infection, or passing it along to someone else.
Within the medical world, diseases of all shapes and sizes are characterized by codes. These can offer important clinical information and are texts relied off of for medical training. The terminology is often more complicated than a blog but is incredibly reliable and straight to the point. Herpes zoster falls under the ICD-10-CM codes, A00-B99 (for certain infectious diseases and parasites), B00-B09 (viral infections characterized by skin or mucous membrane lesions), and B02. It offers info on risk factors, molecular mechanisms, and other classical epidemiology information. Stored systematically, it allows universal analysis and structured implications for the medical industry.
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