Dermatology & Skin Cancer Surgery Center’s team of dermatology practitioners are specialized to treat unique skin conditions, such as shingles. This is a painful skin rash that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the virus that also causes chickenpox. Shingles can appear anywhere on a patient’s body, but is most likely to appear on the side of the face or torso as a band or stripe of blisters. Older adults are more likely to get shingles, especially those with weakened immune systems. The majority of people with shingles will improve and not experience another reoccurrence. However, some patients can get it again, so it is essential to manage the condition accordingly. We have offices to serve you and help you overcome this troublesome skin condition.

Symptoms of Shingles

The symptoms of shingles are usually only noticeable on a small section of one side of the body. The most common symptoms are pain, tingling, numbness, itching or burning, and/or a red rash. These symptoms usually appear a few days after the patient first experiences pain. Other symptoms include sensitivity to touch, fluid-filled blisters that can break open and crust over, fatigue, sensitivity to light, fever or a headache. Some patients may feel as if they have the flu. Those who have shingles usually find that their symptoms arrive in stages, with pain occurring first, and then visible skin-related symptoms.

What causes Shingles?

Anyone who has ever had chickenpox is at risk of developing shingles because after a patient recovers from chickenpox, the virus may enter the nervous system and lie dormant for years. A weakened immune system caused by stress, disease or overall aging can put a patient at risk for shingles. Certain medications can also reawaken the virus. It is not entirely clear why the virus is reactivated but only shingles can develop and not chickenpox. There is also a small chance that a patient with a shingles rash can spread the virus to a person who is either never had chickenpox or never got the chickenpox vaccine.

How to treat Shingles

While there is not a cure for shingles, there are a number of antiviral drugs that can provide relief, clear up symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. Common medications include: Valtrex, Famvir and Zovirax. Since shingles can be so painful, a doctor may prescribe a numbing agent in the form of a gel, cream, skin patch or spray. A pain relief cream such as capsaicin cream can be applied to the shingles rash to reduce pain. Injections of corticosteroids or local anesthetics may also be administered. In some cases, a doctor may even prescribe an anti-depressant to help a patient cope with the pain and symptoms.