Shingles is a very common but highly misunderstood virus that affects one out of every three people in the United States. Many people misidentify or don’t receive the right types of treatment that regulate outbreaks. Dermatology Associates of Atlanta has received many questions about shingles from a significant amount of our patients, so we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions.
How Do I Know if I Have Shingles?
Shingles is a painful rash that appears as a patch of reddened blisters anywhere on the skin. Although the most common areas are on the scalp and face, it’s very common for people to experience a tingling sensation on the skin before physical signs appear. Once the rash is visible, it can be uncomfortable and itchy for about 2- 4 weeks until it gradually fades. Some of the common symptoms for shingles include:
- Only one side of the body affected
Am I at Risk for Shingles?
Anyone who hasn’t had the varicella-zoster virus (chickenpox), is susceptible to shingles because they haven’t developed the specific antibodies to defend against the skin condition. Shingles is at its most contagious when it’s in a blistered form and hasn’t scabbed. Once the blisters have formed into crusty scabs, the virus is no longer contagious.
Most cases of shingles are reported by people who are around the age of 50 years-old and older. However, there are plenty of instances of outbreaks in people who are younger. Additionally, people of any age who have weakened immune systems are more susceptible to the virus. This includes conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, kidney disease, and more.
What Can I do to Prevent Shingles?
Regardless of your age and whether or not you’ve had the chickenpox virus, it’s highly recommended that you receive the chickenpox vaccine to build your immunity.
The recommended shingles vaccine is called Shingrix® and it only requires two doses that are spaced 2 to 6 months apart. Individuals can take the oral medication, Acyclovir if they have started to show symptoms.
If you’re above the age of 60 and you’ve had chickenpox or have been vaccinated, the shingles vaccine is an important consideration. Even if you’ve had shingles before, it can significantly lower your chance of future outbreaks. The vaccine is currently the safest and effective way to prevent the emergence of this irritating skin condition.
Dermatology Associates of Atlanta is committed to helping our patients maintain healthy and beautiful skin. The best way to treat this condition is to take preventative measures before it has even developed. To speak with one of our experienced skin health providers, contact Dermatology Associates of Atlanta at (404) 256-4457. For more information and tips on how you can take care of your skin from head to toe, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.