Shingles is a rash resulting from the varicella zoster virus, and is thus also referred to as herpes zoster. This is the same virus that causes chicken pox. Shingles is generally quite painful. Anyone who has ever suffered from chickenpox or anyone who has had the vaccination for chickenpox can get shingles.
Some of the signs that you may have shingles can include:
Yes, shingles can be passed to others if they come in contact with fluid leaked from the shingles blisters. Before the blisters appear and after the blisters have crusted over, shingles isn't contagious any longer.
If you're suffering from shingles, always keep the blisters completely covered when you’re around others. Avoid scratching or agitating the rash in any way, as this can spread the rash and cause blisters to break open. Wash your hands frequently to avoid spreading the illness to others. It's also best to avoid any contact with pregnant women or with anyone who has a weakened immune system while you have shingles.
Shingles treatment typically includes prescribed oral medications such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, or famciclovir. These drugs work best when started early — as soon as the shingles is diagnosed. In some cases, the pain from the shingles blisters is so severe that prescription pain medication may also be needed.
Dr. Freeman may also recommend some home care that will help make you more comfortable. This may include measures like:
Shingles may take a few weeks to fully resolve, but with proper treatment, you'll get through it as easily and painlessly as possible.
The shingles vaccine is usually recommended for patients who are 60 or older, as a risk for the inflammation increases with age. Even patients who have already had shingles need to have the shingles vaccination to avoid any chance of developing it again in the future.