If you've ever had chicken pox, you might not know that the virus remains inactive throughout certain cells in your body. Herpes zoster, or more commonly referred to as shingles, is a result of the virus reemerging. At Shenandoah Dermatology & Aesthetics in Staunton, Afton, Raphine, Fishersville, and Waynesboro, VA, our team of dermatologists encourages you to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of shingles.
Triggers of the once dormant virus can be caused by varying reasons, however, anyone who previously had chicken pox are at greater risk of developing herpes zoster. Additional causes of shingles are often linked to having a weakened immune system, including:
- being treated for certain cancers through chemotherapy or radiation
- taking prescribed immunosuppressive medication to reduce the chance of the body rejecting a transplanted organ
- long-term intake of cortisone
- developing an infection
Children can develop shingles, but it's far more common amongst people over the age of 50. Although it's possible, it's rare to endure shingles more than once.
Signs And Symptoms
Initial symptoms (i.e. what you feel) of herpes zoster often materialize through mild to severe itching, burning, tingling, or shooting pain sensations, primarily occurring on one side of your body or face.
Then, a rash forms after one to 14 days as the first sign (i.e. what you see) of shingles. The rash typically appears as a single stripe in the aforementioned locations on the body.
Usually, the rash transforms into clusters of clear blisters that eventually turn yellow-ish or bloody. Once the blisters harden, or scab, they will begin to heal—in total, lasting anywhere from 2-3 weeks.
Other symptoms you may incur from herpes zoster may include having flu-like symptoms; such as a fever, headache, upset stomach, or chills.
Treating Herpes Zoster
Dermatologists with Shenandoah Dermatology & Aesthetics in Staunton, Afton, Raphine, Fishersville, and Waynesboro, VA, will need to first closely examen the condition of your skin before diagnosing shingles.
Even though the rash from herpes zoster often clears up within a few weeks without treatment, the pain or sensations caused by the pain can last anywhere from months, to several years.
Our team of dermatologists strongly encourage you to visit with them to develop a personalized treatment plan for you. Treating shingles can be any of the following:
- taking prescription pain-relievers or anti-viral medication (i.e. anti-viral medicine performs best when prescribed within 72 hours of a shingles rash occurring)
- injections for severe pain or to reduce swelling (i.e. shots administered for pain include a numbing anesthetic and sometimes corticosteroids)
After the rash clears, treatments for residual pain often include specific anti-depressants, painkillers, anesthetic creams, or even anti-seizure medications.
Taking The Next Steps
To best understand your experience with shingles, schedule an appointment with our dermatologists at Shenandoah Dermatology & Aesthetics in Staunton, Afton, Raphine, Fishersville, and Waynesboro, VA, by giving our office a call at (540) 885-4500.