Shingles is a painful skin rash that is associated with the chickenpox virus. Once a person has had chickenpox the virus remains dormant in the nerve root system. In many people, the virus stays dormant (or “asleep”) forever. However, in some people, the virus “wakes up” under certain circumstances. Shingles is most common in people over 50 and people who have a weakened immune system. While shingles are painful, the good news is that once a person has shingles s/he will most likely not get it again.
There are different symptoms for shingles. Many people start out with a headache, sensitivity to light, or feeling that they have the flu but not have a fever. For most people with these symptoms they are unaware that the shingles virus is awakening in their system because these are relatively common symptoms of a variety of illnesses. However, once itching, tingling, or pain on an area of the skin begins, a person may easily suspect shingles.
On the area of skin that itches and/or becomes painful, that is where a small rash is likely to occur within a few days. The rash will turn into clusters of blisters and become very painful. Shingles almost always only affects one side of the body, and that is another tell-tale sign of the virus.
If you have shingles, contact our dermatology office right away. Treatments that begin within just 2-3 days of symptoms appearing are the most effective at alleviating the pain and discomfort of shingles. We offer quality care to our patients and will give you a personalized shingles treatment.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Jamie Weisman, Medical Dermatology Specialists