Dr. Hina Altaf Dermatologist

Shingles

Shingles

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus can remain dormant in the nervous system and reactivate years later as shingles.

Symptoms  include a painful rash that usually appears as a band or stripe on one side of the face or body. The rash consists of blisters that typically scab over in 7 to 10 days and fully clears up within 2 to 4 weeks. The rash may also blister and itch, and may be accompanied by fever, headache, and fatigue.

Before the rash appears, people often have pain, itching, or tingling in the area where it will develop. This may happen several days before the rash appears.

Most commonly, the rash occurs in a single stripe around either the left or the right side of the body. In other cases, the rash occurs on one side of the face. Shingles on the face can affect the eye and cause vision loss. In rare cases (usually in people with weakened immune systems), the rash may be more widespread on the body and look similar to a chickenpox rash.

Other symptoms  can include

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Upset stomach

Treatment for shingles may include

  • Antiviral medication to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms. This medication might be recommended if a physician identifies the mentioned condition within 72 hours of the rash initially showing up. The earlier anti-viral treatment is started, the better it works.
  • Pain medications and topical creams may also be prescribed to alleviate discomfort. To lower swelling and pain, some patients may get corticosteroid pills with their anti-viral This treatment is not common because it can make the rash spread.
  • Nerve blocks: Given for intense pain, these injections (shots) contain a numbing anesthetic and sometimes a corticosteroid.

It is important to seek treatment early, as complications such as postherpetic neuralgia (persistent pain after the rash has healed) can occur.

Preventive measures encompass receiving the vaccine intended for this condition, which is recommended for adults over 50 years old, and avoiding close contact with individuals who have not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine.

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus can remain dormant in the nerve tissue. Later in life, it can reactivate and cause shingles. It typically presents as a painful, blistering rash that usually affects one side of the body.

It is not directly transmitted from person to person. However, the varicella-zoster virus can be transmitted to others who have not had chickenpox or the varicella vaccine. Close contact with the shingles rash can cause a person to develop chickenpox, but not shingles itself. It's important to keep the rash covered to avoid direct contact with others, especially individuals who may be at risk, such as pregnant women, infants, or people with weakened immune systems.

The most common symptom is a painful rash that usually appears as a band or strip of blisters on one side of the body. Other symptoms may include itching, tingling, or a burning sensation in the affected area. Some individuals may also experience fever, headache, fatigue, or sensitivity to light. If you suspect you have shingles, it's important to see a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis.

Shingles is typically treated with antiviral medications to help reduce the severity and duration of the infection. These medications are most effective when started within 72 hours of the rash appearing. Pain medications, such as over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription drugs, may be recommended to alleviate discomfort. Additionally, applying cool compresses or calamine lotion to the affected area can help soothe the rash.

Yes, it can be prevented or its severity reduced through vaccination. The vaccine, recommended for individuals aged 50 and older, can help prevent shingles or reduce the risk of complications. It is also recommended for individuals who have had shingles in the past to help prevent recurrence. If you suspect you have shingles or are at risk, it's best to consult with a healthcare professional to discuss the appropriate vaccination strategy for your situation.

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Dr. Hinah Altaf’s clinic is currently at Gargash Hospital, 145 Umm Suqeim Street – Umm Al Sheif -Dubai.