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Herpes Zoster

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Herpes Zoster (Shingles)

What is shingles?

Herpes Zoster (or Shingles) is a viral infection characterized by a painful rash. Shingles can appear anywhere on the body, but most often as a grouping blisters on one side of the body, which follows the distribution of the nerves that give sensation to the skin.

Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. If you’ve had chickenpox, you’re carrying the shingles virus. This virus lies inactive near the spinal cord and brain and can reappear later as shingles. Luckily, there are effective vaccinations against shingles that can decrease the likelihood of developing this painful condition. Ask your primary care doctor if this may be right for you!

Symptoms of shingles

Shingles is not life-threatening but it is very painful, and in some cases can be urgent.

Symptoms of shingles include:

  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Red rash that appears a few days after the pain
  • Pain, burning, numbness or tingling
  • Itching
Risk factors for shingles

You’re at higher risk of developing shingles if you:

  • Are older than 50, with the risk increasing as you age
  • Take certain medications, like steroids or drugs used to prevent rejection of transplanted organs
  • Have certain diseases, like HIV/AIDS, cancer, or a weakened immune system
  • Undergo cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy/radiation, which can lower your resistance to the virus
What can I do about my shingles?

There is no cure for shingles, but antiviral drugs, like Zovirax and Valtrex, can speed healing and reduce complications. Your doctor may also prescribe pain-reducing drugs. Additionally, shingles can occasionally affect the face and eye, and needs to be evaluated quickly by a healthcare provider if these areas are affected.

Dermatology of Athens

Shingles can cause painful and unsightly blisters and lesions, it’s important you seek relief quickly if you suspect you may have this condition. We encourage you to call for an appointment and we will get you in to see one of our healthcare providers right away!

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Have questions or concerns? Please call us at 706.353.8220

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