Shingles is a painful, blistering skin rash appearing in a strip along the face, torso, or other body locations. It’s most common in men and women aged 50 and above or younger adults with weak immune systems due to stress, injury, or certain medications. Untreated, a shingles outbreak will eventually disappear on its own in 2 to 4 weeks. But while present, it’s often extremely uncomfortable and especially embarrassing if located on the face, forehead, neck, arms, or other highly visible spot. Also, if the pain is not treated correctly and early enough, it may last for months. This is called post-herpetic neuralgia. The Dermatology Clinic is highly experienced in treating this condition. Our physicians have been trained at some of the finest regional medical schools and teaching hospitals.

What Causes Shingles, and Is It Contagious?

Did you have chickenpox as a child? If so, the same virus that causes the skin rash (herpes zoster) is behind shingles. After chickenpox subsides, the virus goes dormant for decades within the body’s nerve roots. In some people, it’s inactive forever; in others, it “awakens” with age or other triggers. It always reappears as shingles, not as a second case of chickenpox. But unlike chickenpox, once you get shingles and recover there’s a risk it may reappear. Fortunately, shingles is not usually contagious. However, someone with an outbreak rash can spread the virus to anybody who’s never had chickenpox or the vaccine to prevent it, like an unborn child.

Progression of Shingles Symptoms

Shingles symptoms start gradually and advance in stages. It can begin as a headache and feel like the flu but without a fever. A few days later, it advances to itching or irritation in a particular location. That’s where the rash will eventually appear followed by red, fluid-filled blisters that soon crust over. Some get only a mild rash, while others have very pronounced and painful skin disruption. The pain may linger after the rash subsides. Some report feeling dizzy or weak, and in some cases having slightly blurred vision during the outbreak.

Can Shingles Be Treated?

While there is a treatment for shingles, there is also a preventive shingles vaccination to block outbreaks before they happen. Dermatologists recommend this solution for anyone aged 50 years or older. If, however, you don’t get vaccinated and shingles occurs, there’s an alternative to simply toughing it out. Once formally diagnosed, shingles skin disease treatment starts with antiviral medicines to help a rash heal faster, so it’s less painful. Medication can also contribute to minimizing long-lasting nerve pain. It’s best to begin antiviral treatment within three days of the rash appearing so don’t hesitate to see a dermatologist.

Make an Appointment

Schedule a consultation and clinical evaluation with our team at shingles’ first sign. Additionally, our well-respected staff can also remedy various painful or embarrassing skin-related conditions including acne, eczema, dermatitis, moles, warts, nail fungus, and rosacea. Cosmetic or preventative skin care, removal of lesions or scars, and pediatric skin disorders are specialties. Don’t delay receiving needed help. Contact us today.