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What You Should Know About Shingles

If you’ve ever had chickenpox, you are at a higher risk for contracting shingles, which is often a much worse experience. At the onset of any shingle symptoms, contact a dermatologist at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute. We can help you get immediate treatment to relieve any pain and discomfort associated with this condition.


What is Shingles?

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. It often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either side of your torso and occasionally around one eye or one side of the neck/face. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox.

To determine if you have shingles, look for symptoms to include painful burning or tingling, sensitivity to touch, a red rash following the pain, fluid-filled blisters that break open, and itching. The first symptom you will likely notice is pain. Some people affected by shingles won’t develop a shingles related rash, but will experience the pain.


What Causes Shingles and Can They Be Prevented?

As previously mentioned, if you have experienced chickenpox you are at a higher risk of developing shingles. The virus can enter your nervous system years before shingles even appear. The reason for shingles developing is unclear but it is thought to be caused by the weakening of the immune system as you grow older.

Is shingles contagious? Yes, but not to everyone. It is important to be extra careful when shingles is developed because it can be contagious to anyone who has yet to have chickenpox. Although they will not develop shingles, they will develop chickenpox if infected. A person is considered contagious with shingles until the blisters scab over.

The best way to prevent shingles is to get the appropriate vaccination. The varicella vaccine is often given as a routine childhood immunization but can be given to adults who have never had chicken pox. It doesn’t guarantee you won’t get chickenpox or shingles, but it can greatly reduce the chances. The shingles vaccine, on the other hand, includes vaccines such as Zostavax or Shingrix. Zostavax protects against shingles for about five years. It is given as a single injection into the upper arm. Shingrix is likely to protect against shingles for more than five years. It is given in two doses with two to six months between injections. It is recommended for those over the age of 50.


Treatment of Shingles

Unfortunately, there is no single shingles treatment, but prescription drugs can help relieve your pain and speed the healing process. Shingles lasts between two and six weeks, so a prescription drug will likely be necessary. Until your appointment with a doctor, try taking a cool bath or applying a cool, wet compress to your blisters to relieve any pain or itching. Shingles are common and tough to prevent, but the effects can be reduced by seeing a dermatologist soon after symptoms appear.

If you are experiencing signs or symptoms of shingles, a dermatologist should be contacted immediately to provide you with the correct treatment. If you’re in Bloomington, Illinois or the surrounding areas, get in touch with a dermatologist at Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute.

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