Medical Dermatology > Shingles
Shingles, also known as Herpes Zoster, is a re-exacerbation of a latent chicken pox infection you get when younger. It is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV). The virus continues to live in the nerves over a lifetime. When a client is under significant life stress the virus can represent itself as shingles.
Shingles always affects one side of the body only in a localized area (dermatomes). The rash progresses to marked blistering that evolves into impressive, dark scabs. It usually takes several weeks to resolve. The skin rash always resolves, but unfortunately, can leave a person with permanent scarring.
The most concerning complaint of shingles is the associated pain. It creates a very painful, burning sensation known as post-herpetic neuralgia. Post-herpetic neuralgia tends to last much longer than the skin rash.
Patients must be very careful to stay away from those who have not had chicken pox in their lifetime, particularly pregnant women with the same history. It is still infectious and can be spread.
With the recent arrival of the shingles vaccine, dermatologists are seeing less and less of the condition. However, getting the vaccine does not mean that you will not get shingles; it may be just expressed in a less severe, abbreviated fashion.
Treatment depends on the timing of the onset of the rash to the dermatology clinic. Most dermatologists prefer to start medical treatment within the first 24-48 hours from the onset of the rash. Treatment may not significantly help the rash to resolve quicker, but may help in minimizing the expression of the post-herpetic neuralgia.