What is Shingles?
Shingles is a skin condition that represents itself as an itchy, painful skin rash that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Dr. Renee Snyder and her team of Austin, TX board-certified dermatologists treat shingles, which can appear anywhere on the body. In most instances, shingles appear on the torso or on the side of the face as a line of blisters. While it is more common for older adults to develop shingles, it can also affect teens and younger adults. Most patients who have a bout with shingles will improve and not experience the condition again. However, in some patients it can return. Researchers believe that shingles are caused by a weakened immune system or a disruption within the nervous system. Our skilled and knowledgeable dermatologists are able to effectively treat shingles and decrease the risk from it reoccurring.
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. It’s not entirely clear why the virus is reactivated but only shingles can develop and not chickenpox. There’s also a small chance that a patient with a shingles rash can spread the virus to a person who’s either never had chickenpox or never received the chickenpox vaccine.
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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 and fluid-filled blisters that can break open and crust over, as well as 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.
How to Treat Shingles
While there’s no 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. Prescription-strength painkillers can also be prescribed. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe an anti-depressant to help a patient cope with the pain and symptoms and decrease the risk of post-herpetic neuralgia, this is persistent pain in the area after the shingles rash has healed.
Plan Your Procedure
- 15 minutes
Schedule a Consult Today!
If you have experienced any of the painful or visible symptoms associated with shingles, please call our dermatology office today to schedule an appointment for a thorough examination. Our team of highly trained medical professionals will be able to evaluate your symptoms, provide a proper diagnosis, and get you started with the proper treatment protocol.