Dermatologists Share Tips For Treating Shingles
Newswise SCHAUMBURG, Ill. If you have ever had chickenpox, or been vaccinated for it, you are at risk for getting shingles a painful, blistering rash. This is because after the chickenpox clears, the virus stays in the body. If the virus reactivates, or wakes up, you could get shingles.
Although shingles is much less contagious and itchy than chickenpox, it tends to cause more pain, said board-certified dermatologist Daniela Kroshinsky, MD, MPH, FAAD, assistant professor of dermatology, Harvard Medical School. In addition, although the shingles rash usually clears in a few weeks, some people can experience pain, numbness, itching and tingling that can last months or even years.
According to dermatologists from the American Academy of Dermatology , common signs and symptoms of shingles include:
- – An area of skin that burns, itches, tingles or feels very sensitive: This usually occurs in a small area on one side of the body and lasts one to three days.
- – A rash that begins as red spots and quickly turns into groups of clear, painful blisters: These may turn yellow or bloody before they scab over and heal.
- – Flu-like symptoms: A fever or headache may occur with the rash.
- – Pain: Sometimes, the pain is bad enough for a doctor to prescribe medication. The pain tends to lessen once the blisters heal, which can take two to three weeks.
To help relieve shingles pain and discomfort, the Academy recommends the following tips:
# # #
Should I Get The Shingles Vaccine If I Am Immunosuppressed
Shingles vaccine guidelines change frequently and depend on individual cases. If you have immunosuppression through HIV, check with your infectious disease doctor for their recommendation. This is a live vaccine and there can be a supposed reactivation of the virus.
For patients about to begin biologic medications for psoriasis or other dermatologic conditions, its ideal if you can get the vaccine prior to starting the medication.
If you are dealing with any type of immunosuppression, check with your doctor about the best choice for your condition.
to find an Epiphany provider near you.
Doctors Of Osteopathic Medicine
People may seek DO care because they want to work on overall wellness rather than treat a single condition. Individuals with shingles may choose a DO because they need help with a range of symptoms.
One technique that a DO might suggest for someone with shingles is known as myofascial release . This involves stretching and releasing different parts of the body to rebalance tissues.
Shingles can cause pain due to uncomfortable rashes. Balancing tissue function through myofascial release may provide relief in some cases.
A DO may also use:
- facilitated positional relief
- balanced ligamentous tension
- reciprocal inhibition
Shingles can cause pain and discomfort throughout the body. An experienced DO may be able to increase a persons comfort by restoring tissue balance and connectivity.
Also Check: Does Insurance Cover Shingles Shot
Consider Using Creams Lotions Or Patches
Shingles can be very painful. If you need help managing pain, your doctor might prescribe a topical pain-relieving cream or patch. These contain lidocaine or other nerve block medication for the skin.
A medicated anti-itch cream that includes an antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine , might also help you find some relief.
After the rash has scabbed over, you can try using creams or lotions to soothe any remaining symptoms. Look for products that contain:
- colloidal oatmeal
Your doctor may also recommend an oral over-the-counter pain reliever such as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug or acetaminophen . Always follow the dosage instructions on the label or take according to your doctors instructions.
How Is Shingles Treated
Specific treatment for shingles will be determined by your healthcare provider based on:
- Your age, overall health, and medical history
- How long the shingles have been present
- Extent of the condition
- Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, or therapies
- Expectations for the course of the condition
- Your opinion or preference
There is no cure for shingles. It simply has to run its course. Treatment focuses on pain relief. Painkillers may help relieve some of the pain. Antiviral drugs may help lessen some of the symptoms and reduce nerve damage. Other treatments may include:
- Creams or lotions to help relieve itching
- Cool compresses applied to affected skin areas
- Antiviral medicines
Don’t Miss: When Is The Shingles Vaccine Recommended
Sheryl D Clark Md Is One Of New York Citys Top
Shingles is a painful and unpleasant experience all around. While there is no direct cure for this viral infection, a professional dermatologist can help you get relief from your symptoms and speed up your bodys healing process. At MD Skin Science, we provide patients in NYC with effective shingles treatment to help them through the condition with minimal discomfort.
At MD Skin Science, our team is dedicated to helping our patients have healthy skin that looks and feels great. We aim to provide top-of-the-line cosmetic and non-surgical treatments to our patients to help them achieve clear and healthy skin, including solutions for symptom relief of shingles and other skin conditions.
What Are The Complications Of Shingles
Symptoms of shingles usually dont last longer than 3 to 5 weeks. However, complications can happen. The main complications that can result from shingles include:
- Postherpetic neuralgia . The most common complication of shingles is called postherpetic neuralgia . This continuous, chronic pain lasts even after the skin lesions have healed. The pain may be severe in the area where the blisters were present. The affected skin may be very sensitive to heat and cold. If you had severe pain during the active rash or have impaired senses, you are at increased risk for PHN. The elderly are also at greater risk. Early treatment of shingles may prevent PHN. Pain relievers and steroid treatment may be used to treat the pain and inflammation. Other treatments include antiviral drugs, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and topical agents.
- Bacterial infection. A bacterial infection of the skin where the rash happens is another complication. Rarely, infections can lead to more problems, such as tissue death and scarring. When an infection happens near or on the eyes, a corneal infection can happen. This can lead to temporary or permanent blindness.
You May Like: How To Tell If You Have Shingles
Fact: A Vaccine Can Help Prevent It
It doesnÃ¢t guarantee you wonÃ¢t get shingles, but a vaccine can lower your chances by more than 90%. And if you do get the condition, it might not affect you as much. The CDC recommends that healthy adults 50 or older, as well as those 19 years and older who are immunocompromised, get two doses of the vaccine Shingrix. The shots are taken 2 to 6 months apart. Exceptions are if you currently have shingles, are pregnant, or a test shows you have immunity. You likely have been exposed to chickenpox even if you didnÃ¢t develop blisters, so you should get the vaccine even if you donât remember being ill.
Herpes Zoster Differs From Other Types Of Herpes
Hearing the word herpes can be confusing. Herpes zoster is not a sexually transmitted infection . It cannot cause genital herpes. Herpes zoster also doesnt cause cold sores. Both genital herpes and cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus.
The virus that causes shingles and chickenpox is called the varicella-zoster virus. Its common.
Read Also: Who Makes Best Roofing Shingles
What To Do If You Think You Have Shingles
If you suspect that you have shingles, its important to visit a healthcare professional as soon as possible. According to the American Academy of Dermatology , treating shingles within the first 72 hours gives you the best chance of minimizing complications like nerve pain.
Antiviral medications or other medications only available by prescription can shorten the duration of your shingles or lessen the severity.
If a cream or other topical isnt reducing your pain, its a good idea to visit your doctor again. They may recommend trying another treatment like capsaicin cream instead of lidocaine.
If a product is making your symptoms worse, its important to stop taking it right away.
You may be able to reduce your symptoms using home remedies while youre waiting to see a healthcare professional. These include applying a wet cold compress or taking a cool bath.
Is Shingles On My Face More Dangerous
If shingles appears on the face or ear, it should be closely monitored to prevent long-term damage to vision and hearing.
If a rash appears on the tip of the nose, seek treatment immediately from both your dermatologist and an ophthalmologist. Shingles on the tip of the nose indicates that the eye may be infected with the virus as well. You need to start treatment immediately. The ophthalmologist will test to see if the virus is in the cornea and work to protect your eyes from long-term effects.
If the ear is involved, you may also experience tinnitus a ringing or noise perception in the ear. We need to address that quickly to avoid potential auditory problems that can follow. Your dermatologist will likely refer you to an ear, nose, and throat doctor to treat the ear appropriately.
When the herpes zoster virus shows any sign of affecting the eye or ear, we consider these dermatological emergencies that need to be addressed by a dermatologist as well as an ophthalmologist or ENT immediately.
You May Like: Is It A Rash Or Shingles
How Dermatologists Diagnose Shingles
Your dermatologist will make a clinical diagnosis of shingles by examining the skin rash where you are experiencing pain and blistering. Sometimes it may be necessary to take a small skin sample for further testing to rule out other conditions. Your dermatologist may also ask about your medical history, including whether youve had chickenpox, undergone radiation or chemotherapy treatment, take any immunosuppressive medications, and whether you have any diseases that weaken your immune system.
People older than 60 years old are at higher risk for developing shingles as well as experiencing complications from the virus, including lasting nerve pain and vision problems if the infection involves the nerves around the eye.
Help Is Available For Phn
Fortunately,early treatment for shingles can lower your chances of getting PHN.
For some people, the pain becomes refractory, or resistant to treatment, explains Dr. Rosenquist. So we want to treat shingles as fast as we can ideally as soon as somebody feels a tingling or burning sensation, even before a rash develops.
Sheadds that whenever nerve pain is involved, some people respond to treatment andsome dont.
However,medications taken orally or injected that can target the affected nerves may beable to stun the nervous system into behaving properly. That meanstransmitting the appropriate signal to the brain.
Don’t Miss: How To Install Shingles On A Shed
Shingles Is A Viral Infection That Causes A Painful Rash
Medically speaking, it is an acute viral inflammation of the sensory ganglia of the spinal and cranial nerves that is associated with vesicular eruptions and neuralgic pain caused by reactivation of the herpes virus causing varicella also called herpes zoster, zoster.1
Studies show that more than 99 percent of Americans aged 40 and older have had chickenpox, even if they dont remember getting the disease. Most people who get shingles will have it only once. Each year, about 96 shingles-related deaths occur in the United States.2,3
Approximately one out of three people in America will develop shingles during his or her lifetime. That is nearly one million people each year. As people age, their vulnerability of contracting this disease increases, with about half of all shingles cases occurring in people aged 60 or older.4
Given the ubiquity of this malady, alternative methods have been developed to alleviate the painful effects of shingles and some of these are of interest to the chiropractor.
Does A Dermatologist Treat Shingles Or Should I See My Family Doctor
Ask U.S. doctors your own question and get educational, text answers â it’s anonymous and free!
Ask U.S. doctors your own question and get educational, text answers â it’s anonymous and free!
HealthTap doctors are based in the U.S., board certified, and available by text or video.
Also Check: Is Rosen Shingle Creek A Marriott Property
The Diagnosis And Shingles Treatment
How do dermatologists diagnose shingles?
To diagnose shingles, a dermatologist will look at the skin and ask some questions.
If there is any doubt, the dermatologist may scrape a blister to get a sample. This sample will be examined under a microscope. Also, the dermatologist may send the fluid from a blister to a laboratory for testing.
How do dermatologists treat shingles?
Without treatment, the rash clears in a few weeks. Dermatologists, however, strongly recommend shingles treatment. Without it, many people get pain, numbness, itching, and tingling that can last for months or years.It is best to get treatment immediately. Shingles treatment can include:
- Pain relievers to help ease the pain: The pain can be very bad, and prescription painkillers may be necessary.
- Anti-viral medicine: This medicine may be prescribed when a doctor diagnoses shingles within 72 hours of the rash first appearing. The earlier anti-viral treatment is started, the better it works. Anti-viral medicines include famciclovir, valacyclovir, and acyclovir. These can lessen the pain and the amount of time the pain lasts.
- Nerve blocks: Given for intense pain, these injections contain a numbing anesthetic and sometimes a corticosteroid.
- Corticosteroids: To lower swelling and pain, some patients may get corticosteroid pills with their anti-viral medicine. This treatment is not common because it can make the rash spread.
Ask your dermatologist about possible side effects .
Shingles: Signs And Symptoms
Shingles tends to cause more pain and less itching than chickenpox. Common signs and symptoms are:
The warning: An area of skin may burn, itch, tingle, or feel very sensitive. This usually occurs in a small area on 1 side of the body. These symptoms can come and go or be constant. Most people experience this for 1 to 3 days. It can last longer.
Rash: A rash then appears in the same area.
Blisters: The rash soon turns into groups of clear blisters. The blisters turn yellow or bloody before they crust over and heal. The blisters tend to last 2 to 3 weeks.
Pain: It is uncommon to have blisters without pain. Often the pain is bad enough for a doctor to prescribe painkillers. Once the blisters heal, the pain tends to lessen. The pain can last for months after the blisters clear.
Flu-like symptoms: The person may get a fever or headache with the rash.
Patches of skin can become very painful before the shingles appear.
Recommended Reading: Can You Put Vinyl Siding Over Asbestos Shingles
How Do You Get Shingles
Shingles are primarily seen in older adults and those with weakened immune systems caused by injury, certain medications, stress, or other issues. Most of those afflicted with shingles eventually get better and do not get it again. However, it is possible to get shingles more than once in your lifetime. When the virus is reactivated, it does not cause a recurrence of chickenpox only the shingles rashes appear.
Those who may be at risk from shingles include:
- People with diseases such as cancer or HIV
- Those who have had an organ transplant
- Those who are unable to fight off infection easily due to immune deficiencies or stress
Topicals Are Not A Substitute For Medical Treatment
Topical products can help you manage your symptoms. But they arent a substitute for proper medical treatment.
Its important to visit your doctor if youre dealing with shingles. Your doctor can prescribe antiviral drugs and other medications that can shorten the duration of your infection and help you avoid severe complications.
The following creams may be able to help you manage shingles symptoms.
Also Check: What Age Can I Get The Shingles Vaccine
Meet Dr Michael Krathen
Dr. Michael Krathen is a board-certified dermatologist with more than a decade of medical training and experience. A specialist in both medical and cosmetic dermatology, he uses expertise, collaboration, and compassion to help people of all ages discover their healthiest and most radiant skin.
Credentials You Can Trust
Can I Prevent Shingles
Who should get it: The CDC recommends that you get this vaccine if youÃ¢re a healthy adult age 50 or older, whether or not you remember having had chickenpox, because most people have been exposed to the virus. If you have had the Zostavax vaccine, you can also have Shingrix.
How many shots do you need? You would need two shots for Shingrix: One at first, with a follow-up in 2 to 6 months.
What it does:Shingrix reduces your chance of getting shingles by more than 90%. Even if you still get shingles, the vaccine may help it be less painful.
I never had chickenpox. Do I still need the shingles vaccine? Yes, you do. Shingrix is recommended for everyone age 50 or older, whether or not you remember having had chickenpox.
If IÃ¢ve had shingles, can I still get the vaccine? Yes. It may help prevent you having another bout of shingles later on. If you have shingles right now, you should wait until the rash is gone before you get vaccinated.
DonÃ¢t get the Shingrix vaccine if you:
- Are allergic to any of the ingredients
- Are pregnant or nursing
- Have tested negative for immunity to the chickenpox virus. Ask your doctor about the chickenpox vaccine instead.
- Have shingles now
Recommended Reading: Can You Put Shingles On Top Of Shingles
Millions Get Shingles Each Year
Doctors diagnose more than 1 million cases of shingles in the United States every year.1 Many of these people are surprised to find out that they have shingles because they dont remember having had chickenpox. Chickenpox can be very mild. You may have had it when you were too young to remember.
If you were born before 1980, you have a greater than 99% chance of having had chickenpox, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles.