Did you know that anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles? After the chickenpox clears, the virus lies dormant in certain nerves for many years.
Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a common viral infection of the nerves, which results in a painful rash or small blisters on an area of skin. It can appear anywhere on the body, but it typically appears on only one side of the face or body. Burning or shooting pain and tingling or itching are early signs of the infection. Even after the rash is gone, the pain can continue for months, even years, which is known as a post herpetic neuralgia.
Shingles is most common in older adults. A vaccine, which can prevent shingles, is available to people ages 50 and older. Dr. Monique S. Cohn, DO FAOCD at Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center in Twinsburg, Ohio recommends this vaccine for everyone 50 and older.
If you have a painful rash on your body, shingles could be to blame. Treatment usually focuses on pain relief. Dr. Cohn recommends one or more of the following options:
- Painkillers to relieve pain
- Antiviral drugs to help reduce symptoms and minimize nerve damage
- Bed rest, especially during the early phase of shingles and if fever is present
- Topical (skin-based) agents
- Cool compresses applied to affected skin areas
- Antiviral medications such as acyclovir, valacyclovir and famciclovir
- Vaccine after the age of 50 to prevent shingles
You’re not contagious before you develop blisters or after the blisters scab over. You will be contagious to anyone who has not had chicken pox before or is immunosuppressed. So, be sure to take precautions while you have blisters including covering the rash.
Although there is no cure for shingles, we can help to reduce your pain, numbness, itching, and the amount of time that you have a rash including complications that may result. For more information schedule an appointment online at Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center or by calling 330-425-7600.