If you contracted chickenpox when you were younger, you could be at risk for shingles, a painful rash that most often develops across the torso. Learn more about shingles before seeking treatment for this viral skin infection.
Symptoms of Shingles
The initial signs of shingles typically include:
- Pain, burning, itching, or tingling skin. For some people, the discomfort can be intense.
- Extreme skin sensitivity.
- A red rash that develops a few days after the pain begins, usually on the torso. Shingles can also develop on other parts of the body, including the face.
- Fluid-filled blisters, which may break open, ooze, and crust over.
- Muscle aches, weakness, chills, and nausea.
For most people, a shingles infection clears up on its own after two to four weeks. Consider seeing a doctor if:
- The pain and rash occur near your eyes.
- You’re over age 60, increasing the risk of complications.
- You or someone in your household has a weakened immune system.
- The rash is widespread and very painful.
Causes & Risk Factors for Shingles
Shingles and chickenpox come from the same source—the varicella-zoster virus. The reason why this virus reactivates and causes shingles is unclear, though a low immunity to infections is one potential trigger.
The risk factors for shingles include:
- Age: Being 50 and older makes you more susceptible to shingles. The risk of postherpetic neuralgia, or continued pain long after the rash clears up, increases the older you are. Still, people of any age can develop shingles, including children.
- Cancer or other diseases: HIV/AIDS, autoimmune diseases, and cancer all increase your risk of shingles because they impair your immune function.
- Certain medications: Receiving cancer treatment, taking immune-suppressing drugs after an organ transplant, or using steroids like prednisone long-term may increase the risk of shingles.
The good news is you can be vaccinated against shingles. A vaccine is available at any age for people who have never had chickenpox. A separate shingles vaccine is designed for adults age 50 and over who have had chickenpox.
Ask your doctor about prescription antiviral drugs designed to speed up the healing process. If you are in severe pain, you can also seek a prescription cream, gel, spray, skin patch, or other topical treatment to help you cope. Home remedies can also relieve the discomfort of shingles. These include soaking in a cool bath or applying a wet washcloth to the rash.
Be aware that the varicella-zoster virus is contagious, capable of causing chickenpox or shingles in those you come in contact with. To prevent spreading the disease, stay home from work or school until your rash has healed. The virus is no longer contagious once the blisters stop oozing and scab over.
If you have a rash of any kind that doesn’t respond to at-home treatment, contact Swinyer-Woseth Dermatology at 801-682-4715 for treatment. We offer cosmetic services, medical services, and skincare products in Salt Lake City.
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. If you have ever had chicken pox, you are at risk of developing shingles. Although shingles can cause long-term complications, your dermatologist can provide treatments to minimize both the immediate and long-term effects.
Watch this video to learn about shingles. The chicken pox virus stays dormant in your body after you have recovered from that illness, but it can reactivate decades later in response to stress or another illness. When shingles flares up, it can cause a painful rash. Your dermatologist can provide remedies to reduce the pain and itching and to prevent long-term nerve pain from developing.
If you suspect you have shingles, make an appointment at Swinyer-Woseth Dermatology. Our dermatologists provide comprehensive skin care for everything from acne to aging. To make an appointment with a dermatologist in Salt Lake City , please call (801) 266-8841.
Shingles is a painful viral infection , as anyone who has ever had it will quickly attest. If you think you may have shingles, or if you’re having skin symptoms, you should always seek out the counsel of a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment. Even so, it’s important to understand shingles so that you’ll be able to recognize it if it ever happens to you.
Shingles is actually caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox: the varicella-zoster virus . If you had chicken pox as a child, then you are at risk for developing shingles later in life. The virus never completely clears your system, and shingles is what happens when the latent virus is suddenly reactivated. This typically occurs in approximately 20 percent of people who carry the virus.
Shingles are most common in people over the age of 60, but younger people can experience it. Pain or incredibly sensitive skin that is localized to one side of the body in a broad area is typically the first symptom. This can manifest in a variety of ways, from intense itching to deep shooting pain. There may also be headaches or fever and chills. About three days later, a raised rash appears, then pustules or blisters form in the area of pain.
Your dermatologist can give you an anti-viral medication to lessen the symptoms if shingles is caught early. Beyond that, it simply has to run its course. You can try taking antihistamines with your dermatologist’s approval. Try not to scratch, keep the area clean, and apply cool compresses until the blisters dry up to help with the pain and swelling. Be sure to properly dispose of any dressings or cloths as the virus is highly contagious during the weeping stage.
If you think you have shingles, or any other skin problem, contact us at Swinyer – Woseth Dermatology . We offer medical services, cosmetic services, and skincare products in the Salt Lake City area. Visit our website to learn more about our practice, or call (801) 657-3779 to schedule an appointment.
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