Understanding Shingles

What is Shingles?

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a blistering, painful rash. It can affect any part of your body and typically appears in clusters. The most common place people will have a shingles outbreak is in a wrapping band alongside their torso.

 

The same virus that causes chickenpox, varicella-zoster virus, is what causes shingles. Once you have had chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in your system, sometimes for decades before reactivating as shingles.

 

Shingles are not a life-threatening condition but they can be extremely painful and last for several weeks at a time. There are vaccines to help reduce your chances of developing shingles and early treatment can help reduce the infection time.

 

Symptoms of Shingles

Typically, shingles will first start as a burning, stinging, or itching sensation in a concentrated area on the body. The pain can range from moderate to severe in this stage, with many complaining of sensitive skin. This sensitivity usually lasts for less than a week before the visible rash appears.

 

The rash itself will be a cluster of red blisters, filled with infectious liquid that bust open and crust over. The additional symptoms people report experiencing are:

 

-Headaches

-Fever and chills

-Sensitivity to light

-Nausea

-Swollen lymph glands

 

Is Shingles Contagious?

While shingles itself is not contagious, the varicella-zoster virus can spread from a person with shingles to someone who has not had chickenpox. This puts the infected person at risk for developing chickenpox, not shingles. Shingles cannot be spread through coughing or sneezing, only through direct contact with the fluid within the blisters. Before the blisters appear and once the blisters are dry and crusted over, a person is no longer contagious.

 

When Should I See My Doctor?

If you suspect you may have shingles, contact your doctor immediately. More severe situations that need to be taken seriously include:

 

-If the pain or rash occur on your face, especially near an eye. If untreated this infection can lead to permanent eye damage.

-If you or someone in your household has a weakened immune system

-If you are 60 years or older, you have an increased chance of complications due to shingles

 

 

Wellspire Medical Group 

8901 Farm to Market 1960 Bypass Road W #101  

Humble, TX 77338  

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