Shingles is a viral infection that causes painful blisters along the cutaneous nerve tracks. It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After an individual has chickenpox (or the vaccine), the virus lays dormant in the nervous system; when the immune system weakens, the virus may revive and travel along a sensory nerve into the skin. Shingles usually appears in a band/strip on one side of the body. If the shingles virus appears on the forehead, cheek, nose or around one eye, it could threaten an individual’s eyesight and immediate medical care should be sought.
One of the first symptoms might be itching, tingling, or pain in a certain area, where redness or blisters may occur. Next the eruption will turn into a cluster of reddish blisters that will fill with fluid and then crust over. Shingles usually lasts for several weeks. Shingles is contagious, but it spreads chickenpox, not shingles. People with weak immune systems, pregnant women, babies, and people who have not had chickenpox are most susceptible. Treatment may shorten the duration of the virus and prevent complications. Treatment may include antiviral medication, pain medicines, steroid shots, and/or topical creams. Treatment is necessary to help prevent post-herpetic neuralgia, a potentially severe and lasting pain reaction. Most healthy people will develop immunity to the virus and will never get shingles again.
To schedule an appointment with a board certified dermatologist at Soderstrom Skin Institute, call 1-888-970-7546.