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Posts for tag: Shingles

By Dr. Patricia McCormack, M.D., F.A.A.D.
May 31, 2019
Category: Skin Conditions
Tags: Shingles  

The effects of chickenpox may last beyond your childhood infection. Shingles, a widespread, itchy, painful rash, can break out at any time in adulthood because the causative agent, the Varicella Zoster virus, lies dormant within the body for life. Your dermatologist can help you control the awful pain and dangerous complications of shingles. He or she also has suggestions on avoiding an outbreak of this common and contagious skin disease.

What does shingles look like? A shingles rash is a reddened, itchy, oozing skin rash composed of raised blisters. Typically, it is widespread on the face near the eye, on the torso (front wrapping around to the back), or on the neck. People experience exceptional pain for at least two to six weeks, and due to damaged nerve endings, some individuals have unresolved pain for years.

What are the potential complications? Just like its childhood counterpart, shingles is contagious. So, people exposed to your shingle rash may develop chickenpox if they have never been sick with it previously.

Plus, shingles may lead to serious vision or hearing problems, fever, balance issues, and light sensitivity. People with a weakened immune system are potential shingles sufferers, and unfortunately, perfectly healthy people who have a shingles flare-up can then become immunosuppressed. In short, shingles is nothing to joke about.

How is it treated? Mild cases respond to cool baths, skin calming lotions, topical steroids and over the counter pain relievers. More severe flare-ups may require narcotic pain relievers, anti-convulsants, steroidal injections and numbing medications applied directly to the skin. Medications such as Acyclovir and Valacyclovir help dampen the spread of the virus.

Can you prevent an outbreak of shingles? Your dermatologist or primary care physician may provide you with a shingles vaccine to greatly reduce your chances of having shingles. The American Academy of Dermatology says that Zostavoax is for patients over 60, and the Shingrix vaccine may be administered beginning at age 50.

Find out more

Your dermatologist is an excellent resource for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide array of simple to complex skin conditions and diseases. If you are starting a shingle outbreak or desire to prevent one, call your skin doctor for a consultation. He or she will inform you on the best ways to stay as healthy as possible.

By Dr. Patricia McCormack, M.D., F.A.A.D.
September 28, 2018
Category: Skin Conditions
Tags: Shingles   Chickenpox  

Shingles is a painful conditionWhat are the symptoms of and treatments for this painful dermatological condition?

Did you know that anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk for shingles, and that those over the age of 50 are more likely to develop this condition? Approximately one out of three Americans will have shingles at some point in their lives. Read on to learn more about this common problem.

What is shingles?

Shingles is caused by a virus known as the varicella¬≠zoster virus, which is the same virus known to cause chickenpox. If you’ve had chickenpox before the virus never truly goes away. Instead it lies dormant within the nerves of the spinal cord and brain. When the virus is reactivated, it manifests as shingles.

What are the symptoms of shingles?

The main symptom of shingles is a red, painful rash that usually appears on one side of the body. The rash may be tender to the touch and typically causes intense itching. The rash is made up of blisters that burst and crust over. Your rash may also be accompanied by malaise, fever, or headache.

What are the risk factors for shingles?

Anyone who has been infected by chickenpox can have shingles. However, this illness is more common in those over the age of 50 and the risk continues to increase as you age.

Also, those who have a weakened immune system due to certain chronic diseases like HIV, or those currently undergoing cancer treatment may be at an increased risk of developing shingles.

Different shingles treatments

While there is no cure for this disease there are antiviral medications you can take to promote faster healing and to reduce your risk of developing other complications. If you are experiencing severe pain, we may also recommend prescription pain medications or creams to help ease your symptoms. Most people experience shingles symptoms for about two to six weeks.

Can I prevent shingles?

There are two vaccines that we recommend for preventing shingles. The first is the chickenpox vaccine, which is recommended for children and any adults who have never had chickenpox. The second vaccine is the shingles vaccine. While these vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective, they can greatly reduce your chances of developing shingles.

If your shingles rash has developed near your eye or is severely painful, then it’s time to see your dermatologist right away for treatment.