How to treat shingles


If you have ever had chickenpox, or been vaccinated
for it, you are at risk for getting shingles, a painful, blistering rash. The chickenpox virus stays in the body, even
after chickenpox clears. If the virus reactivates, or wakes up, you
will get shingles. Although shingles is much less contagious
and itchy than chickenpox, it tends to cause more pain. Shingles most often appear on the back, chest,
and stomach, but they can also occur on the face and head, or the legs. Common signs and symptoms of shingles include: – An area of skin that burns, itches, tingles,
or feels very sensitive. This usually occurs in a small area on one
side of the body and lasts one to three days. – A rash that begins as red spots and quickly
turns into groups of clear, painful blisters. These may turn yellow or bloody before they
scab over and heal. – Flu-like symptoms: A fever or headache may
occur with the rash – Pain: Sometimes the pain is bad enough for
a doctor to prescribe medication. The blisters tend to last two to three weeks. Once they heal, the pain tends to lessen. Although the rash from shingles clears in
a few weeks, some people with shingles can experience pain, numbness, itching, and tingling
that can last months – or even years. If you suspect you have shingles, see a board-certified dermatologist immediately. A dermatologist may prescribe anti-viral medicine. When used within 72 hours of the rash appearing,
the medication may lessen the pain and the amount of time the pain lasts. To help relieve the pain and ease discomfort
at home, follow these dermatologists’ tips for treating shingles. Cool the rash with ice packs, cool wet cloths,
or cool baths. Gently apply calamine lotion to the blisters. Do not pick at, scratch or pop the blisters,
as blisters help your skin heal. Cover the rash with loose, non-stick, sterile
bandages. Finally, wear loose, cotton clothing to cover
your affected body parts. If you are unsure whether your rash is shingles,
you have shingles on your face, or you are experiencing a lot of pain, see a board-certified
dermatologist immediately. If you are over age 50, getting the shingles
vaccine may also prevent or lessen the severity of a shingles episode. In addition, even though shingles is much
less contagious than chickenpox, a person with shingles can still spread the virus. If you have shingles, avoid contact with anyone
who has not had the chickenpox or has not been vaccinated. To find a dermatologist in your area or learn
more about shingles, visit aad.org.