Shingles is a skin condition that results from the reactivation of the chicken pox virus (herpes varicella-zoster virus). It usually presents as a painful unilateral pink rash with small blisters on the torso, but it can appear on the face or other areas. If you have had chicken pox, you already have the virus for shingles in your body. Precision Medical Specialists offers diagnosis and shingles treatment at our medical center in Wellington, FL.
Causes and Symptoms of Shingles
About 99% of people in the U.S. born before 1980 had the chicken pox and already have the varicella-zoster virus in their body. When chicken pox occurs, it affects the skin, but then the virus moves to the nerves and become dormant. If the virus returns to the skin, the outbreak is shingles. This condition most commonly affects adults above the age of 50, but it can occur in anyone who has had chicken pox, especially those with a compromised immune system from illness or stress. Symptoms of shingles include:
- Tingling or burning sensation on one side of the torso or face – this typically occurs 1-2 days before the rash appears.
- A blistering rash appears on one side of the body, often on the torso, but it can appear anywhere, even the face.
- The rash is painful and itchy.
- The rash can last 2-4 weeks, and the blisters can bleed and scab as they heal.
- Some people experience headaches, fever, vomiting and muscle pain with their rash.
The most common side effect of shingles is persistent pain at the site of the rash. Early treatment helps reduce the discomfort. Shingles treatment includes oral anti-viral medication and pain control with topical medication and/or oral tablets. It is important to see a doctor or dermatologist right away. Beginning medication within 2-3 days of when the shingles start can reduce the symptoms and shorten how long shingles lasts.
There are possible complications from shingles. If the shingles occur on the face, they can affect the eyes and vision. Other complications can include pneumonia, hearing loss or encephalitis, but these are rare. Shingles is contagious, but you cannot spread shingles to others, only the herpes zoster virus which causes chicken pox. People who are pregnant or those who have not had chicken pox should be avoided to prevent spreading the virus.
If you have symptoms of shingles, contact us at Precision Medical Specialists in Wellington, FL to schedule an exam and shingles treatment appointment with our dermatologist.