As a relatively common childhood illness, chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, linking it to a severe rash and/or blisters known as shingles. While the virus can remain dormant for many years and doesn’t manifest in everyone, when it reappears as shingles, the pain varies widely from individual to individual. Medline Plus explains that early signs of shingles might include burning or shooting pain, along with tingling or itching. Some time later (from 1-14 days), an individual may notice the presence of a rash, notably in the form of a stripe around one side of the body or face.
Given the severity of shingles, one may question who is at risk. As mentioned, when someone has had the chickenpox virus, he or she is at risk for getting shingles at some point in their life. This risk increases with age. Moreover, individuals with compromised immune systems are at risk, and this includes those with HIV/AIDS, certain cancers or those taking immunosuppressive medications. Yet, even an individual experiencing high levels of stress is considered at risk, as stress levels affect the immune system.
When it comes to treating shingles, antiviral medications are effective, yet only when administered quickly (within 72 hours after the first burning or tingling sensation). Otherwise, over the counter pain relievers can help combat pain, while topical lotions such as calamine help soothe sensitive, blistered skin. In turn, a cool washcloth or oatmeal bath can relieve severe bouts of itching.
Meanwhile, there are a few things to know. First, shingles itself is not contagious, yet a person can catch chickenpox when exposed to someone with shingles, particularly if the person has not had chickenpox or the vaccine. Second, while there is no known cure for shingles, there are vaccines in place to prevent it or lessen its effects. However, these are mostly recommended for individuals aged 50 and older, and are associated with side effects.
Experiencing Signs and Symptoms of Shingles? Call Kayal Dermatology Today!
As a rule, if you or someone you love is experiencing early symptoms of shingles, call Kayal Dermatology quickly to schedule a consultation.