Author: Gabby Gamino, LVN, Manager
What is shingles?
Shingles is a very painful skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus. Similar to chickenpox in children; shingles is caused by the same virus and is essentially the same thing as herpes zoster. Shingles is most commonly seen in elderly people and those with weakened immune symptoms. The varicella zoster virus can remain dormant in your system and can wake up with age because aging weakens the immune system.
It is common for people to think that if you get shingles once you won’t get it again, which is unfortunately false. If you are diagnosed with shingles, you may get it more than once because the virus lays dormant in your nerve roots. Shingles visually look like little blisters in a small cluster. It is most commonly localized to a certain area of your body and it doesn’t usually spread. Symptoms typically occur in stages.
Some of the symptoms of shingles are:
- At first you may have a headache or be sensitive to light.
- You may feel itching, tingling, or pain in a certain area.
- You may feel tired or overtired.
- Later you will see a strip or band of a rash which turns into fluid-filled blisters.
It typically takes 2-4 weeks for the blisters to crust over and then heal. The good news there is treatment for shingles. It is usually treated with antiviral medication such as Valtrex. Often pain medication is also given to help with the discomfort. It is always best to start medication as soon as possible. There is a vaccine that helps prevent shingles too. Children receive two Varicella vaccines during their youth and Zostavax is the vaccine that helps prevent shingles in adults. It is recommended for adults ages 60 and older.
Shingles is a painful rash that unfortunately appears at the worst times in people’s lives due to the trigger of stress and a compromised immune system. Take advantage of the vaccine and try to prevent getting the virus.
The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.