August 26, 2013

Understanding Shingles

Symptoms for Shingles

If you've had chickenpox , the virus that caused it, the varicella-zoster virus, remains in your body.  It lies dormant in your nerves and can come back, even years later, as the painful, blistering rash of shingles.  An outbreak usually begins with a burning, itching, or tingling sensation on the back, chest, or around the rib cage or waist.  It is also common for the face or eye area  to be affected.  Some people report feeling feverish and weak during the early stages.  Usually within 48 to 72 hours, a red, blotchy rash develops on the affected area.  The rash erupts into small blisters that look like chickenpox.  The blisters seem to arrive in waves over a period of three to five days.  Blisters:  tend to be clustered in one specific area and after eruption the open sores take a week or two to crust over and are usually gone within another two weeks.  Pain:  the burning sensation in the rash is accompanied by shooting pains that may diminish as the blisters heal, but the pain can continue for months or years.  People report the sensation of anything brushing across the inflamed nerve endings of the skin can be almost unbearable.  Diagnosis:  because the rash is only on one side of the body and erupts along nerve paths that stem from the spine, shingles is usually easy to determine.  When the rash is accompanied by sharp, burning pain, in an older person who has had chickenpox, the diagnosis can be confirmed.  Treatment:  while there is no cure, antiviral medication, preferable given within 72 hours of the first sign of the rash, weakens the virus and its effects.  The outbreak still has to run its course, and pain relievers are often necessary.  


Daily cleaning of the area helps prevent bacterial infections.  Prevention--the Shingles Vaccine:  the FDA has approved a vaccine to prevent shingles in people age 60 and older, even if they have had shingles.  The vaccine is designed to boost the immune system and protect older adults from getting the disease later on.  

Source:  National Institute of Health    

Robert G. Tupac, DDS, FACP, Inc., Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics (661) 325-1275 | 5060 California Ave., #170, Bakersfield, CA 93309

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