A viral disease called shingles is one of the many skin diseases that can cause discomfort and pain to people who have it. Our dermatology center in Honolulu, HI caters the needs of anyone who has this problem. With the aid of Dr. Matsuda and Dr. Sheu, shingles may easily be treated.
What is shingles?
The same virus that causes a person to have chickenpox, the varicella zoster virus is responsible for the appearance of shingles. This skin disease will manifest a painful rash to the patient’s skin – usually appearing as a single strip of rash on the side of either the face or the body. Once a person has already undergone a chickenpox, the varicella-zoster stays stagnant in a nerve tissue just near one’s brain and spinal cord. After a couple of years, this virus could reactivate, resulting to shingles.
What are the signs and symptoms of shingles?
The symptoms for shingles come in stages. Initially, the person could experience headache or increased sensitivity to light. The person may be able to feel flu-like symptoms yet not have a fever.
Then, a shooting or burning pain may be felt on one side of the body or the face. There may also be itching and tingling sensations on either area. The pain varies from person to person as it may range from mild to severe. After 14 days, rashes may start to appear on any part of the body, which will turn into clusters of blisters in a few days. They could even appear on one’s face, which could affect your senses of sight and hearing. Even after the blisters and the rashes have already healed, which may happen in 2 to 4 weeks, there is a possibility for the pain to linger for weeks, months, or even a couple of years.
However, symptoms may vary from every individual with the said disease. Some may only exhibit a mild rash while others do not experience this at all.
Who are common candidates for shingles?
Shingles could happen to anyone, but older adults tend to be affected by this disease more often. People who are also weak from stress, illness, or from taking medications may also be susceptible to shingles since their immune system becomes compromised in these situations. Most often, people who get shingles may be treated and will not have this disease again.
Can I get shingles from a person who has it?
No. Shingles is not a communicable skin disease. However, there is little possibility that a person with this skin condition may be able to spread the virus to other people – most especially those who haven’t had chickenpox yet and those who have not taken the chickenpox vaccine.
How is shingles treated?
With the right medicines, shingles is treatable. Your doctor may prescribe you with antiviral medicines and pain relievers to alleviate the pain. It may be advised to start antiviral medicine immediately before the pain gets any worse and for the rashes to heal much faster. If you start to experience the symptoms, seek medical help right away.
Proper home care could also help give your recovery a boost. Your doctor may advise you to clean your skin sores regularly and to take your medicines on time. Over-the-counter pain medication may be taken if prescribed by the doctor.
What other ways can I reduce the pain of shingles at home?
Pain caused by shingles may be relieved with the following:
- Avoid scratching the rashes and blisters since they will just crust and fall off eventually.
- Apply cool compresses or lotion, like calamine, to the area to ease discomfort.
- Soak the crusted blisters with tap water to decrease its oozing and to clean away the crusts as well. Using Burrow’s solution could help, too.
- Ask your doctor if topical creams may be used to decrease the inflammation of your skin.
If any of the home treatment does not work for you, your doctor may help find better solutions. In the case of shingles, proper pain control is essential in order to prevent the risk for nerve damage, which might worsen the duration of pain caused by shingles.
How can I prevent shingles?
Shingles can be prevented by having a shingles vaccine which is available for those 50 years and older. This may lower your chances of getting the disease and may also prevent chronic pain which could still possibly occur after the symptoms have subsided. This could also help clear up your rashes quickly if you ever do have shingles.