The Pain that is Shingles
- Posted on: Dec 15 2017
While it’s bad enough to be told your roof is too old and you need new shingles, it’s worse to be told you have the varicella-zoster virus, aka “shingles.” Shingles is a skin disease that can be exceedingly painful. If you had chicken pox when you were little, you could get shingles when you’re older.
Dr. Musick can provide the vaccine to treat your shingles outbreak effectively.
What are shingles?
The same virus that is behind chicken pox, the varicella-zoster virus, is the culprit behind shingles. Shingles is a reactivation of a previous infection, usually childhood chicken pox. To get shingles, you had to have had chicken pox. The virus resides in nerve tissue near the person’s brain and spinal cord but is dormant after the chicken pox outbreak. Then, particularly after the age of 50, it can rear its ugly head as shingles. Shingles will show itself as a painful rash on the skin, usually as a single strip of rash on the face or the body. Shingles are more likely to flare in people with compromised immune systems, and in older adults (age 60+).
What are the symptoms of shingles?
Shingles can begin with localized pain, headaches, light sensitivity or flu-like symptoms.
Then the fun starts. The next stage will result in shooting or burning pain on one side of the body or face. There may also be itching and tingling sensations. The pain varies from person to person, but it can become severe. After two weeks, rashes may appear on the face or body, becoming clusters of blisters in a few days. These rashes will usually heal in two to four weeks, but the pain can linger for weeks, months, even a couple of years.
Stress, illness, and certain medications that compromise the immune system can trigger a shingles outbreak. Once a person has a shingles outbreak, it usually won’t happen again.
How we treat shingles
Dr. Musick treats shingles in a variety of ways. First, we can try to head it off before it erupts. We recommend the shingles vaccine for those over the age of 50. This vaccine lowers your chances of getting shingles and usually prevents chronic pain from developing after your other symptoms have subsided.
Otherwise, we use antiviral medicines and pain relievers to alleviate the pain. We usually prescribe antiviral medication as soon as a person experiences early symptoms. We also prescribe various topical creams to decrease skin inflammation.
If you suspect you may have singles, it’s important to call Dr. Musick quickly. Early treatment can reduce the pain and the severity of the episode. Call us at 618-628-2588 to make your appointment.