- A small area of skin begins to burn, itch, or become painful
- A rash appears in the same area
- Group of blisters appear that accompany pain and discomfort
- The blisters begin to scab over and heal
in Fargo, North Dakota
If you’ve had chickenpox, you can still get shingles later in life. This condition is indicated by a painful, severe rash and can be extremely uncomfortable. It can also cause serious complications, so it’s important to see a board certified dermatologist as soon as possible.
Shingles are related to chickenpox because it’s caused by the same virus which stays in the body. It sometimes reactivates around middle age, causing a blistering rash to occur on the skin. Shingles can be very serious since it can cause long-lasting pain (called PHN, or post-herpetic neuralgia) in the nerves if not treated immediately. An FDA-approved shingles vaccine exists that can help prevent PHN, so you should receive this vaccine around 50 or 60 years of age.
It’s not clear what exactly causes shingles to occur after the chickenpox virus ‘goes to sleep’ in the nerves of the body. However, there’s a clear link between lapses in the immune system that accompany old age. If you haven’t had chickenpox, you won’t get shingles. If you have had chickenpox, however, you’re likely to get shingles if you are 50 or over and have a weakened immune system because of stress, injury, or illness.
Some patients that experience treatment for other serious conditions develop shingles because certain medications or treatments can weaken the immune system. This can include cancer treatment, HIV/AIDS, and certain post-operative medications.
Dr. Rachel Ness is amazing! She is extremely caring, experienced, and takes the time to truly address your concerns. I very highly recommend seeing her.
Shingles can usually clear on its own, but it can be extremely uncomfortable and painful for patients, so Dr. Ness can offer medications to help ease symptoms. These most commonly include anti-viral medications, pain relievers, and anti-itch creams. In more extreme cases of shingles, nerve-blocking injections can sometimes be used to reduce pain. Treatment can also include easing symptoms after the rash has cleared, in the case of PHN.
It’s highly important to treat shingles immediately because it can cause other complications beyond PHN. Ocular shingles can occur when shingles spread to the face and eye area, sometimes causing serious complications to the vision. Shingles can also cause infection if the blisters are not treated properly or covered.
The best way to lower your risk of getting shingles is through receiving both doses of the shingles vaccine after the age of 50. This can also lower your chance of developing extreme pain and discomfort that can last for months or years.
It’s also important to prevent shingles from spreading to other areas of the body, meaning you should keep blisters covered with a sterile, non-stick bandage and treat them as any other wound or infection. Practicing good hygiene can also prevent the spread or complication. Shingles can be contagious only when you have active blisters, although it’s less contagious than chickenpox. You should avoid contact with people who may be at risk for developing shingles or chickenpox, like children or elderly people, who commonly have weakened immune systems.
- Vanicream HC
With expert care from Dr. Ness, shingles can resolve quickly and without complication. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Ness and discuss your treatment options, contact Fargo Dermatology by calling or filling out our online form.