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Close up view of woman scratching her arm. Health care and medical concept.

Shingles is a potentially painful condition that affects over a million people each year in the US. It occurs in people who have had chickenpox when they were younger. The virus flares up in the body and causes shingles. If you experience the symptoms of shingles, you should see your dermatologist right away to minimize the duration of the infection and reduce long-term impacts. You’re likely to have questions about shingles if you experience symptoms. Here are the answers to some of the questions that dermatologists hear most often.

What are the symptoms of shingles?

For most people, shingles start as a stabbing or burning pain that affects one side of the body. About 24 to 48 hours after the pain appears, blisters may develop. The virus that causes chickenpox and shingles—the varicella-zoster virus—resides in the nerve tissue after a person has chickenpox. When it flares up later as shingles, the associated nerve pain can be severe and long-lasting. Some people say that the pain caused by shingles is worse than the pain of a broken bone.

Who gets shingles?

Most people who get shingles are over age 60, but it can occur at any age in people with weakened immune systems. Unlike chickenpox, which only occurs once, shingles can flare up repeatedly, so past infections do not offer any kind of protection.

Is there a treatment for shingles?

There are not any medications that cure shingles, but antivirals can lessen the duration and severity of the infection. These medications work best within the first 72 hours, so see your doctor as soon as you notice symptoms. Anti-virals can also reduce the odds that you will experience postherpetic neuralgia, which is a painful nerve inflammation that can persist for years after a shingles flare-up.

Call Swinyer-Woseth Dermatology as soon as you suspect you have shingles so that treatment can begin right away. For all of your skincare needs in Salt Lake City, call us at 801-266-8841.