Herpes Zoster (Shingles) and Breastfeeding

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Yup I got herpes,  herpes zoster, aka shingles, that is.  Apparently people who have contracted chicken pox previously have that virus dormant inside their bodies.  Once the immune system dips the virus manifests again this time as herpes zoster.  Mine started out with itchy scalp.  I ignored it thinking it was the new shampoo I was trying.  But when it crept down to my right forehead like big insect bites I headed to the derma.

The doctor told me I have to take Zovirax (generic name Acyclovir) for 7 days 5 times a day!  The entire treatment cost a stunning 9,625 pesoses!  Luckily there is an alternative drug Herpex with still a P4,480 damage.  I wondered how would people of less means handle this virus and the doctor said they just wait it out and run the course of the virus for 7 days.  For me since its on the face,  I can’t risk a breakout plus I had one creeping down my eye too which can cause blindness if left untreated.  Herpes Zoster affects nerves and one nerve line only so you will only see it in one part of your body.  Mine was limited to my right forehead, right scalp and right eye.

But other than the cost of the treatment is the initially devastating news that I have to keep distance from my newborn!   I got a bit teary eyed as I thought of the perfect timing of the virus right smack on my early breastfeeding days.  Upon confirmation with my pediatrician,  isolation is not necessary because my baby has my anti-bodies to counter the virus.  So I took care of my baby carrying him and sleeping beside him.  I was just careful not to let my forehead touch his plus I was careful with my bedding.

The tricky part is breastfeeding.  The milk inspite of the virus can be consumed because of the anti-bodies.  It is the medicine I am taking which kinda prohibits me from doing so.  According to my pedia,  I can go ahead and breastfeed since there is very little trace of medicine that goes into the milk.  Research on the net also says so though some sites indicate - use only when benefits outweigh risk.  I decided on the safe side, and I looked away  as I threw the precious breastmilk I painstakingly pumped.  I continued pumping every 4 hours throwing away the milk – so as not to disrupt milk production.  I fed my baby the milk only one day after I finished my 7 day acyclovir treatment.

Dealing with herpes zoster while breastfeeding is not the end of the my breastfeeding days after all.

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