Shingles. While the roofing company telling you it’s time for a new roof loves that word, everyone else should be afraid of it. Shingles is a skin disease that can be exceedingly painful. If you had chicken pox when you were little, you can get shingles when you’re older.
What is shingles?
The same virus that is behind chicken pox, the varicella zoster virus, is the culprit behind shingles. Shingles will show itself as a painful rash on the skin, usually as a single strip of rash on the face or the body. You have to have had chicken pox to later develop shingles. The virus resides in nerve tissue near the person’s brain and spinal cord, but is dormant after the chicken pox outbreak. Then, particularly after the age of 50, it can rear its ugly head as shingles.
What are the symptoms of shingles?
Shingles doesn’t usually become its painful self initially. First, the person may begin to get headaches and become somewhat sensitive to light. Flu-like symptoms, without fever, come next.
Then the fun starts. The next stage will result in shooting or burning pain on one side of the body or face. There may also be itching and tingling sensations. The pain varies from person to person but it can become severe. After two weeks, rashes may appear on the face or body, becoming clusters of blisters in a few days. These rashes will usually heal in two to four weeks, but the pain can linger for weeks, months, even a couple years.
Stress, illness, and certain medications that compromise the immune system can trigger a shingles outbreak. Once a person has a shingles outbreak, it usually won’t happen again.
How we treat shingles
At Matsuda, we treat shingles in a variety of ways. First, those over the age of 50 can have the shingles vaccine. This vaccine lowers your chances of getting shingles, and usually prevents chronic pain from developing after your other symptoms have subsided.
Otherwise, we use antiviral medicines and pain relievers to alleviate the pain. We usually prescribe antiviral medication as soon as a person experiences early symptoms and before rashes develop. We also prescribe various topical creams to decrease skin inflammation.
If you think you may have shingles, don’t wait. Call Matsuda at 808-949-7568 and let us help you with it.