Shingles | Lynchburg, VA
What is Shingles?
Shingles is a painful skin rash that is caused by the varicella zoster virus, also known as herpes zoster. If you had chickenpox as a child, then you have the virus that causes shingles lying dormant in the nerve roots in the spine. The rash is most commonly occurs in older adults and people who have weakened immune systems due to stress, injury, illness or medications.
Shingles appears on one side of the body along the path of one of the spinal nerves. These nerves branch from the spine to the intercostals or rib cage. It may also occur along the path of the facial nerves on one side of the head, possibly near the eye.
Symptoms of Shingles
Shingles develops in stages. It may begin as a headache, causing sensitivity to light. You may experience flu-like symptoms, but not have a fever. In a few days, the rash will progress through an itching, tingling or burning phase in a certain area. Within several more days, a rash may occur turning into clusters of blisters. The blisters fill with fluid and then crust over, taking approximately 2 to 4 weeks to completely heal. Residual nerve pain, also known as postherpetic neuralgia, is not uncommon in cases of shingles. The pain may be intense and require pain management to bring it under control.
Treatment for & Prevention of Shingles
Shingles is treated with antiviral medications. The sooner the antiviral medicine is started, the faster your rash will heal and become less painful. You may need to take over-the-counter or prescription pain medication to combat the pain associated with shingles.
Currently, a vaccine is offered to everyone over the age of 50 to prevent or make a future shingles event less painful. Contact your doctor to find out if you are a candidate for the shingles vaccine.