What You Need to Know About Shingles

Shingles are a virus that can cause painful blistering that can last for weeks. Many people think that shingles only affect older adults or those with health issues. However, anyone who has had the chickenpox at any point in their life already has this virus in their bloodstream, lying dormant, but ready to strike at any time. Here is what you need to know about shingles:

Diagnosing Shingles

The first sign that you have shingles is an outbreak of blisters on one side of your body. Often shingles appear on the torso, with a burning or tingling sensation, but they can be on the face, arms or legs, but always on only one side of the body.

What Causes Shingles?

The chickenpox virus is what causes shingles, but it is usually some sort of stress on the body that triggers an outbreak. Illness, a weakened immune system, emotional stress or illness can trigger shingles. Older adults over 50 are more likely to get shingles, but it can happen at any age. Shingles are not contagious, but those who have not had the chickenpox can be exposed to the virus by someone with shingles.

Treatment for Shingles

A shingles outbreak can be very painful and last for weeks. The best treatment for shingles is using an anti-viral mediation as soon as possible. At the first signs of a possible shingles outbreak, make an appointment with your dermatologist to get your condition diagnosed. Taking anti-viral medication within three days of the beginning of the outbreak is the most effective treatment to reduce the intensity and length of shingles. Plus, shingles can be dangerous if blisters are on the face. You should always see a doctor if you have an outbreak.


There is a shingles vaccine available. It is suggested that people fifty and over use this vaccine, but others with compromised immune systems may also be good candidate for the vaccine. Talk to your doctor to determine if you should have annual shingles vaccine shots.

Posted on behalf of:
Medical Dermatology Specialists
5730 Glenridge Drive, Suite T-100
Atlanta GA 30328
(404) 939-9220

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