Did you know the shingles virus affects roughly one in three people in the United States? If you had chickenpox as a child, there is a chance that you can develop shingles in adulthood. Many people believe shingles is simply a skin rash that will clear up on its own, but the virus affects more than just the skin. To help our patients better understand this virus and the importance of seeking treatment, we are highlighting shingles as our skin condition of the month this February.
What is Shingles:
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. After recovering from chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in your system. However, if the virus reactivates later in life, it will return as shingles. While this is not a life-threatening virus, it can be painful and cause complications if left untreated. It is also important to note that shingles does not always show up as a rash and can be similar to many other things, so if you have tingling, itching and pain on one side of your body, face or scalp, you should be seen within three days so you can be properly diagnosed and get on an antiviral medication to help reduce the chance of developing postherpetic neuralgia, which is a condition that affects your nerves and skin. Although doctors and researchers have been unable to pinpoint a specific reason that the virus reactivates, there is a correlation between the shingles virus and high periods of stress. You are also more susceptible to shingles if you have a weakened immune system or have recently recovered from an illness.
What are the Symptoms of Shingles:
The shingles rash will typically occur on one side of your body; therefore, the symptoms you experience will also occur on that same side. It is important to remember that while these symptoms are common in people who contract shingles, you may not necessarily experience all of these symptoms. In fact, you can experience shingles symptoms and pain without ever developing a rash. These symptoms include:
- Pain, Burning, and Itching
- Fluid-filled, blistered rash in the shape of a band or strip
- Stomach upset
- Light sensitivity
If you suspect that you have contracted shingles, it is important that you contact Dermatology Associates of Atlanta at 404-256-4457 to ensure you are diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
What are the Treatments for Shingles:
While there is no cure for shingles, treatments are available to manage the virus. Antiviral prescription medications can be prescribed to treat the virus and mitigate the risk of long-term complications and over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to assist with discomfort. Topical antibiotics can also be used to treat the blister rash and prevent infection. If you are over the age of 50, your medical provider may also recommend the shingles vaccine to minimize the risk of contracting shingles. With treatment, shingles will resolve within 2-6 weeks.
Getting expert Shingles Care at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta:
At Dermatology Associates of Atlanta, our patient’s well-being is our top priority, and we understand the importance of treating shingles as soon as possible. Our board-certified Dermatologists and Physician Assistants have extensive experience evaluating and treating shingles. If you are experiencing shingles symptoms or something that feels similar, contact Dermatology Associates of Atlanta right away to schedule an appointment. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram for skin care tips and practice updates.