There Are Several Signs And Symptoms To Look For
Pain is the most common symptom of shingles. It usually starts as a burning sensation along the affected dermatome, and often becomes a deeper nerve pain once the rash appears. The rash begins as small red bumps that develop into vesicles and take up to two weeks to disappear.
Less than 20% of patients with shingles will also experience systemic symptoms, including fever, body aches and malaise.
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When Should I Seek Emergency Care For A Shingles Rash
While most cases of shingles are mild, several potential complications may require emergent care:
- Facial rash. A shingles rash on the face is concerning because eye involvement can lead to blindness. This requires an urgent assessment from an ophthalmologist.
- Loss of hearing or facial movement. Rarely, shingles can lead to hearing loss or facial nerve paralysis.
- Disseminated herpes zoster. This widespread shingles rash can also affect your organs. It requires hospitalization with intravenous antiviral treatment.
- Fever. Shingles in addition to fever can be concerning. It may mean you have a superimposed bacterial infection, which could require antibiotics and close observation.
- Confusion or seizures. Shingles in addition to confusion or seizures could indicate brain inflammation, which requires hospitalization for IV antiviral treatment and close monitoring.
Dr. Megan Soliman is an ABMS board certified internal medicine physician whose main focus in her clinical practice is patient advocacy. Her research interests include adverse effects of medications and herbal supplements. Soliman is enthusiastic about bread and butter medicine, which includes treating patients with the most common diseases. She also has a passion for reaching underserved communities, including both U.S. and international rural communities.
What Does A Shingles Rash Look Like
At the onset, a shingles rash usually appears as a single red band on one side of the body or the face. Unfortunately, the rash gets worse before it gets better. Within a few days, the red area turns into fluid-filled blisters, which will scab over about a week later. The scabs usually clear up within a couple of weeks.
Know The Bathing Dos And Donts
Using the right water temperature while bathing or showering can make a big difference in how your skin feels and heals. Ideally, you should bathe with cool or lukewarm water and avoid very hot water.
You can also apply a cool, wet compress to the rash and blisters. The AAD recommends you soak a clean washcloth in cold water and place the cloth on top of the affected area several times a day. Leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes.
You should avoid rubbing washcloths, sponges, or exfoliants on the area.
You can also add colloidal oatmeal or cornstarch to your baths to provide some much-needed itch relief. Just be sure to dry your skin gently after getting out of the bath. Then, follow up with a layer of calamine lotion to soothe your skin, or keep it dry and cover with a bandage if its still weeping.
When To Seek Medical Advice
Shingles is not usually serious, but you should see your GP as soon as possible if you recognise the symptoms. Early treatment may help reduce the severity of your symptoms and the risk of developing complications.
You should also see your GP if you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system and you think you have been exposed to someone with chickenpox or shingles and haven’t had chickenpox before.
Emergency Care Discharge Instructions
If you have been diagnosed with shingles, you likely had chicken pox when you were a child. The virus that caused chicken pox never actually leaves the body it hides, or “sleeps” inside the spinal cord. For most people, the virus stays quiet inside the spinal cord and never reactivates or “wakes up.” However, for 1 in 5 people , the virus does reactivate. It travels down one of the nerves from the spinal cord, causing the rash to appear along the path of that nerve. This usually causes a burning pain to the area, then a skin rash appears a few days later.
You may have been prescribed a medication to manage the pain. Strong pain medications such as Tylenol #3 or Percocet can make you drowsy, so do not drive or operate heavy machinery when taking either of them. These medications usually also cause constipation, so take an over-the-counter medicine for constipation, such as Metamucil or Docusate, at the same time as taking these medications.
For a small number of patients, the pain lasts more than a month . This is called post-herpetic neuralgia. See your family doctor if this is the case for you.
If you have been prescribed an anti-viral medication, start it as soon as possible and complete the entire course .
Remember that you are contagious while you have the skin rash. The risk is that you can give another person chicken pox if they havent had chicken pox before however, you cant give them shingles.
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How Will My Doctor Learn About My Care And Diagnosis
One of the benefits of visiting UPMC Urgent Care is that we keep your doctor informed of your visit so they can follow up with you as needed. No matter who you choose as your primary care provider or what insurance you have, we provide the same level of care, which includes engaging your physician. This team-based approach helps you and your doctor make the best medical decisions for you.
When To See A Doctor
Shingles can be diagnosed with skin scrapings at your doctors office. If the rash has been present for more than 2-3 days, some of the treatment may not be as effective, so getting into our offices is important if you suspect you have it. Shingles can also cause a bacterial infection or chronic pain. It is possible that our medical team can reduce the severity and length of some of the symptoms and side effects with early treatment.
If you suspect you have shingles, come in to see our Integrity team right away. Contact us to set an appointment and be seen by our medical staff. We offer a number of payment options and our courteous team will help you to be seen and on your way in no time.
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We Bring Expert Shingles Treatment To You
Shingles can be an incredibly painful and frustrating condition. If youre coping with shingles and are seeking prompt relief, the last thing you need is the added hassle of sitting in a crowded walk-in clinic or paying costly bills at a major health care facility. Thats where DispatchHealth can help. One of our qualified medical teams which consist of a nurse practitioner or physician assistant and an medical assistant, along with a board certified emergency medicine physician that is available by phone or video can provide the treatment you or a loved one needs in the comfort and convenience of your own home. We are on standby 365 days a year, cost the same as most urgent care clinics and a fraction of other health care facilities, and accept all major health insurance plans.
If this is an emergency, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.
Do I Need To Make An Appointment To Visit Upmc Urgent Care
No appointments are necessary. Walk right in during normal business hours.
And now, you can schedule an appointment online at most Urgent Care locations*.
- Scheduled appointments mean reduced or no wait time
- Schedule an appointment for vaccinations, sports or work physicals, COVID-19 testing, or a visit for a minor injury or illness.
- Walk-ins are still accepted
- To schedule an appointment, visit UPMC.com/ScheduleUrgentCare
*Scheduling an appointment online is not available at Urgent Care locations in Erie, central PA, and western Maryland.
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When To Seek Er Care
ERs are the best place for treating severe and life-threatening conditions. Theyre open 24 hours, seven days a week. They have the widest range of services for emergency, after-hours care, including diagnostic tests and access to specialists.
That specialized care also makes them more expensive. And you may have to wait a long time to get treated. When considering the ER, use your best judgment.
How Long Does Shingles Last
Most cases of shingles last three to five weeks.
- The first sign is often burning or tingling pain sometimes it includes numbness or itching on one side of the body.
- Somewhere between one and five days after the tingling or burning feeling on the skin, a red rash will appear.
- A few days later, the rash will turn into fluid-filled blisters.
- About one week to 10 days after that, the blisters dry up and crust over.
- A couple of weeks later, the scabs clear up.
How Do Dermatologists Treat Shingles
An antiviral medication can:
Reduce the amount of time that you have a shingles rash
Lower your risk of developing long-lasting nerve pain and other health problems
One of three antiviral medications is usually prescribedacyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir.
To treat your symptoms, dermatologists typically recommend the following:
Pain: Medication that you can buy without a prescription can help, such as:
If you have severe pain, your dermatologist may prescribe a medication that reduces inflammation, such as a corticosteroid.
How Is Shingles Treated
No cure exists for shingles, but antiviral medications can shorten the duration and severity of shingles attacks. Medicine is most effective if taken within three days of the appearance of the rash. If you think you have shingles, contact your healthcare provider or visit Rivers Edge Hospitals Urgent Care Department as soon as possible.
There are also things you can do at home to help you feel better:
- Apply a cool, damp washcloth to your blisters to ease pain and itching.
- Take pain medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Try an oatmeal bath or calamine lotion to soothe itching.
While shingles itself is not contagious, the virus can be passed on to anyone who has not had chickenpox.
The shingles vaccine, Shingrix, is recommended for all adults ages 50 and older.
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When Should I See A Doctor Because Of The Side Effects I Experience From Shingrix
Shingrix causes a strong response in your immune system, so it may produce short-term side effects. These side effects can be uncomfortable, but they are expected and usually go away on their own in 2 or 3 days. You may choose to take over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Contact your healthcare provider if the symptoms are not improving or if they are getting worse.
In clinical trials, Shingrix was not associated with serious adverse events. In fact, serious side effects from vaccines are extremely rare. For example, for every 1 million doses of a vaccine given, only one or two people might have a severe allergic reaction. Signs of an allergic reaction happen within minutes or hours after vaccination and include hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness. If you experience these or any other life-threatening symptoms, see a doctor right away.
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Who Should Not Get Shingrix
You should not get Shingrix if you:
- Have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine or after a dose of Shingrix.
- Currently have shingles.
- Currently are pregnant. Women who are pregnant should wait to get Shingrix.
If you have a minor illness, such as a cold, you may get Shingrix. But if you have a moderate or severe illness, with or without fever, you should usually wait until you recover before getting the vaccine.
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Emergency Warning Signs: When Should I See A Doctor
A singles infection near the eyes or ears can progress into a serious neurological problem causing sensory loss. Get emergency help if the rash appears anywhere on the face or head or inside the mouth or nose.
Treatment for Shingles is available now at Newport Urgent Care in Newport Beach, CA.
For more information on shingles, see the following websites:
What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles
The risk of getting shingles rises as you age, making it most common in people over age 50. Many people experience pain, itching or tingling on their skin several days before a painful rash appears. Other symptoms include:
- Skin that is sensitive to the touch
Many people describe the discomfort as a shooting or burning pain, while others experience numbness and tingling. Some experience all the symptoms.
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There Are Several Risk Factors That Increase Your Risk Of Shingles
While anyone whos had chicken pox could get shingles, there are several risk factors that make the virus more likely to re-activate. The biggest risk factor for shingles is age. Patients who are age 50 and up have a much higher incidence of shingles than their younger counterparts. Patients who have HIV, autoimmune disorders or an underactive immune system are also more likely to contract shingles.
How To Prepare For A Telehealth Visit For Shingles
If you think you may have shingles or you have already been diagnosed with shingles but have a question regarding its course or treatment, its a reasonable step to promptly schedule a telehealth visit with a board-certified dermatologist.
If you do not have a dermatologist or your dermatologist does not provide telehealth services, you can search online for one through the American Academy of Dermatology. You may also consider using an online telehealth company, such as TeleDoc or Doctors on Demand, to find a dermatologist.
If a teledermatology visit is not possible, seeing your primary care healthcare provider or an advanced nurse practitioner will also generally suffice. Shingles is a common skin ailment, so most primary healthcare professionals are very comfortable diagnosing and treating it.
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Shingles Is Baused By The Same Virus That Causes Chicken Pox
Both chicken pox and shingles are caused by the Varicella-Zoster Virus . The initial infection presents as chicken pox, with small blisters that usually appear all over the body. When chicken pox resolves, VZV goes dormant, lying along one nerve pathway . Later, VZV re-activates as shingles, causing vesicles that only appear on one side of the body, along one nerve pathway.
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Can You Spread Shingles Over Your Own Body
Shingles cannot be spread over different areas of your body. For example, if you have an active shingles rash on your back, the fluid from the blisters cannot cause a new rash on your arm.
However, the fluid could potentially spread VZV to someone else if theyve never had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine.
One caveat here is that some people can develop disseminated herpes zoster, which is when the shingles virus causes a rash over multiple areas of the body. This can happen in people who have weakened immune systems from autoimmune disease, cancer, or immunosuppressant medications.
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When To Go To Urgent Care For Shingles
When to go to Urgent Care for Shingles
Its best to seek emergency medical treatment when you have a painful, blistering rash and fever along with your shingles. Go directly to an urgent care or emergency room if you experience sudden, extreme weakness in your face, arm or leg on one side of your body trouble swallowing confusion or difficulty talking or vision changes. If any of these symptoms happen more than four days after youve started feeling pain, contact your doctor right away. You may be having a serious complication known as postherpetic neuralgia . The good news is that its very rareand treatable.
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster or zoster infection, is a painful, contagious rash caused by varicella-zoster virus . Shingles occurs when dormant VZV reawakens in sensory nerves. As a result of an initial attack of chickenpox, or having previously been vaccinated against chickenpox, people are exposed to VZV and may develop shingles years later. If you think you might have shingles symptoms because of a recent immunization or bout with chickenpox, call your doctor and schedule an appointment immediately. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are experiencing pain in addition to any skin changes after all, more serious conditions can sometimes masquerade as shingles.
How Is Shingles Diagnosed And Treated
If you think you might have shingles, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Its important to see your doctor no later than three days after the rash starts. The doctor will confirm whether you have shingles and can make a treatment plan. Most cases can be diagnosed from a visual examination. If you have a condition that weakens the immune system, your doctor may order a shingles test. Although there is no cure for shingles, early treatment with antiviral medications can help the blisters clear up faster and limit severe pain. Shingles can often be treated at home.
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