Herpes Zoster (Shingles) Treatment
If you ever had chickenpox, you might want to learn more about shingles, a condition that affects people who’ve experienced the common childhood ailment. It’s not an inherently dangerous medical issue, but it can trigger an extremely unpleasant series of painful skin eruptions, and under certain circumstances, it can cause severe complications.
Fortunately, there is a vaccine that can significantly lower your risk of developing the condition. However, even if you are currently struggling with shingles, there are effective therapies that can help you manage the discomfort effectively and reduce the likelihood of additional flare ups. At IDI, we help patients treat a broad spectrum of troubling dermatological concerns successfully, revealing clear, radiant, and healthy skin.
What are Shingles?
Shingles outbreaks occur due to the activation of the varicella-zoster virus, a dormant virus that exists within the nervous systems of everyone who has ever had chickenpox.
One of the first signs is moderate-to-severe pain, which tends to be located on the part of the body where the rash ultimately forms. (Though not all shingles outbreaks involve rashes.) The outbreak might be on the right or left side of the torso or the face, though in some cases it can spread all over the body. Symptoms might also include:
- Light sensitivity
- Tingling or itching before the development of a rash
- Rash that forms a stripe on the right or left side of the torso or face
- Clusters of red, raised, fluid-filled blisters that ooze and scab
Although having chickenpox isn’t a guarantee that you’ll eventually get shingles, certain circumstances can increase your likelihood. Because it tends to flare up in older adults (aged 50 and up), it is believed to be triggered by a weakened immune response. If you have a compromised immune system due to a medical issue, chronic stress, or alcohol or drug dependency, you are at greater risk of developing the infection.
If you suspect you might have shingles, you should seek medical attention immediately to avoid the risk of complications. Complications can involve:
- Permanent eye damage.If the rash spreads to the eye, it can cause a potentially serious infection that can lead to vision loss.
- Chronic pain.This is a condition called postherpetic neuralgia. It occurs when the infection damages the nerve endings, causing them to send erratic pain signals to the brain.
- Left untreated, the blisters can pose a significant risk of infection.
Your doctor will factor in your reported symptoms and conduct a full evaluation and visual inspection of any rash or blisters. Samples may be taken for additional testing to confirm the shingles diagnosis.
If you’ve had chickenpox and are over the age of 50, you should get a vaccine if you are medically able to do so. It is also recommended that patients who have had flare ups in the past receive the vaccine to minimize the likelihood of future outbreaks.
If you are currently suffering from shingles, your doctor can prescribe antiviral medications that can accelerate the healing process. This can also lower your risk of experiencing potentially serious complications.
Additionally, you might be prescribed and administered medications for pain management, such as topical numbing agents and corticosteroid injections.
The team at IDI takes great pride in providing compassionate, comprehensive care to patients facing shingles or other skin disorders. If you think you might be experiencing shingles, please contact us today to schedule an evaluation.