HEALTH CENTER

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Shingles by Megan Goslee, LVN

Megan-smallerShingles is a very painful skin rash caused by the varicella zoster virus.  Lots of people are familiar with chicken pox in children; shingles is caused by the same virus as chicken pox 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 remains dormant in your system and it can wake up with age because aging weakens the immune system.

It is very common for people to think that if you get shingles once you won’t get it again, which is actually 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 looks like little blisters in a small cluster.  It most commonly it is localized is a certain area of your body and it doesn’t usually spread. Symptoms usually occur in stages.

Some of the symptoms of shingles are as follows:

  • 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 fatigue or overly tired.
  • 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 is, that 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.  Luckily there is a vaccine that helps prevents shingles.  Children receive two Varicella vaccines during their youth.  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 this 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.