Also known as herpes zoster, shingles is a painful skin condition that appears as a rash but is actually the result of a viral infection. A reactivation of the same virus that causes chicken pox, shingles can produce painful symptoms and requires professional treatment. If you think you may be affected, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
- Fact 1: Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox, varicella-zoster. This virus, which remains dormant in the body after a bout of chicken pox, can suddenly become active again and cause shingles in those who have immunity to chicken pox.The virus can also be transmitted to and infect those who have not had chicken pox previously. Shingles risk increases in adults over the age of 60, individuals who had chicken pox at an extremely early age, and adults whose immune systems are affected or depressed by disease or medication.
- Fact 2: In addition to the symptoms visible on your skin, shingles also affects your nervous system. Generally, the first symptom of shingles is a severe tingling or burning feeling on the skin, followed by the development of red and blistering patches of skin. These blisters generally do not cause scarring, though they can break and lead to sores on the skin. People generally develop skin rashes from shingles around the spine, stomach, and chest, as well as around the eyes, ears, and mouth. More severe symptoms may include fever, abdominal pain, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, and taste or vision problems.
- Fact 3: Shingles can be a serious skin and nervous system condition. The antiviral medication prescribed is most effective when taken within 72 hours of the first symptoms, so it’s important to see your dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible. Other medications, such as anti-inflammatory medications or corticosteroids, may also help with swelling and pain. Your dermatologist will determine the proper course of shingles treatment for you, which may also include other medications, cold compresses, or pain relievers.
For more information about shingles and other clinical dermatology conditions, contact Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery. To locate an office or dermatologist near you, please visit Advanced Dermatology online or call us today at (866) 400-3376.