Dealing with Shingles

Shingles refers to a viral infection that causes you to have a painful rash. It most commonly on the right or left side of the torso. It can also be on any other part of the body.

Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you've had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles.

While it isn't a life-threatening condition, shingles can be very painful. Vaccines can help reduce the risk of shingles, while early treatment can help shorten a shingles infection and lessen the chance of complications.

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Shingles also go by the name Varicella zoster virus. This is actually the same virus that is responsible for chicken pox. Those with a weak immune system are more prone to get shingles. The symptoms vary, there are headaches, stinging sensation followed by a rash and stabbing pain from one side.

Shingles is caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox.

Older adults and individuals with a weakened immune system are at greatest risk for developing shingles.

Shingles symptoms and signs include

One-sided stabbing pain,

Tingling, itching, burning, stinging sensation that precedes the appearance of the rash by a few days,


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Steps can be taken to shorten the duration of being infected but experts say the virus must run its full course. The best option is starting treatment immediately when there is an outbreak. A doctor will also advice you on the medication to take.

Your doctor may suggest medications to reduce inflammation, ease pain, and control your shingles infection. They include:

Painkillers, such as anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen, or acetaminophen, can relieve mild pain. Antiviral drugs, such as acyclovir, valacyclovir (Valtrex), or famciclovir (Famvir), may help stop progression of the rash, especially if used within 72 hours of the blister breakout. These drugs may also help stave off the painful after-effects of shingles known as postherpetic neuralgia.

Benzoin, available over the counter, may protect irritated skin when applied to unbroken lesions.

Antibiotics might become necessary if the area becomes infected by bacteria.

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