What is Shingles?
A painful skin rash characterized by a strip of blisters on one side of the body or face is known as shingles. This condition is caused by the same virus that’s responsible for chickenpox, varicella zoster virus, which is reactivated in older adults with weakened immune systems. While most people with shingles will recover and not get it again, others have reoccurring cases, which San Antonio dermatologist, Dr. Garcia, can effectively treat. Dr. Garcia can treat all of the symptoms associated with shingles, including the rash, blisters, pain and itchiness.
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’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 got the chickenpox vaccine.
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Treatment for 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 such as codeine can also be prescribed. 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.
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.
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Get Help Today for Shingles!
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.