What You Need to Know About Shingles

The possibility of a painful rash is lurking inside you if you have had the chicken pox. Shingles are a type of viral infection that is caused by the same virus as chicken pox. About 20% of people will get shingles in their lifetime, most after the age of 50. However, if you have had the chicken pox, you already have the virus hiding dormant in your nerve roots surrounding your spine.

Shingles present itself as a rash once it has begun. This nerve and skin condition usually appears on the torso, on only one side of the body. Most people will first notice a pain on the skin, often on the back, stomach or chest. The pain can be an ache, burning or sharp, without any noticeable cause. The next symptom is a blistering rash on the skin, the signature of shingles.

Shingles can be very painful, causing loss of sleep and discomfort for 3-4 weeks. Although you cannot spread shingles (it is not contagious), you can spread the chicken pox virus to those who have not had it from shingles. This can be dangerous for pregnant women or infants. You should seek medical treatment for your shingles at the first sign of infection; see your dermatologist as soon as you think you may have the virus. While there is not a cure, there are options to help you recover quicker and to help minimize the discomfort.

Shingles can be triggered from stress or illness, especially for those with weakened immune systems. There are vaccines to prevent shingles; however, if you have had the chicken pox and have any symptoms, make sure to see your dermatologist right away.

Posted on behalf of:
Northwest Georgia Dermatology
141 Lacy Street, Suite 200
Marietta, GA 30060
(770) 426-7177

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