Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Should I See A Dermatologist For Shingles

Avoid Scratching The Blisters

Shingles: Pathophysiology, Symptoms, 3 stages of Infection, Complications, Management, Animation.

It might be tempting to scratch or pick at the blisters, especially if theyre causing you discomfort. Know that theyll eventually crust over and fall off if you leave them alone.

Scratching at blisters or scabs can lead to infection and scarring. Cleaning and covering them regularly with a new sterile bandage can help reduce the likelihood that youll pick at the rash.

Keeping the rash clean is one part of the process. The other is to make sure you bandage it properly, especially if the rash is still weeping .

When dealing with a painful shingles rash, your best bet is to use bandages that are:

When youre switching the dressing, allow the skin to dry before covering it with a new bandage.

In addition to keeping the rash protected, bandaging also prevents you from passing the varicella-zoster virus to another person. Be sure to keep bandages on any areas of the rash that havent scabbed over yet.

While shingles isnt contagious, the virus that causes it can be passed to anyone who hasnt had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine. If they come into skin-to-skin contact with the fluid that oozes from a shingles blister, they could end up with chickenpox, according to

What Treatments Are Available For Shingles

As soon as you think you have shingles, make an appointment to see a dermatologist. Although shingles are not a life-threatening condition, you can develop complications from shingles without treatment. Additionally, the pain and discomfort from shingles can last much longer if no medication is taken. If you have shingles on your face, consult a doctor immediately because shingles near the eye area can cause permanent damage to the eyes.

Before treatment, in some cases your dermatologist may scrape the blisters on your skin to get a sample and then send it to a lab to verify that you have shingles.Treatment for shingles can include anti-viral medications, steroids, and pain medications. The quicker you can begin a prescription of anti-viral medication, the better off your prognosis will be.

Topical antibiotic creams can also be applied in some cases to rashes to help prevent infections. In some cases, pain can persist even after rashes have disappeared. This is known as postherpetic neuralgia or PHN. If you are diagnosed with PHN, a doctor might prescribe medications such as painkillers, anti-depressants, and topical anesthetics to help you cope with the pain.

The best treatments for shingles include:

What Shingles Treatments Are Available

Treatment for shingles may include antiviral medications, such as acyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir, which reduce the shingles rashs duration, decreasing the rashs severity, and lowers the risk of developing long-lasting nerve pain and other subsequent health problems. To treat pain-related symptoms from shingles, our dermatologist may also recommend that you take over-the-counter medications, including acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If you have severe pain, a corticosteroid, or another medication type that reduces inflammation, may be prescribed. To prevent shingles before it occurs, be sure to get the shingles vaccine.

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Is A Vaccine Available To Prevent Shingles

Two vaccines are available in the United States to reduce your chance of developing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. One vaccine, Zostavax®, has been available since 2006. The second vaccine, Shingrix®, has been available since 2017. Shingrix is recommended as the preferred vaccine by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a group of medical and public health experts.

Shingrix® is given as a two-dose shot in the upper arm. You should receive the second dose two to six months after receiving the first. Shingrix has been shown to be more than 90% effective in preventing shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. Its effectiveness remains above 85% for at least four years after receiving the vaccine.

Due to high levels of demand for the Shingrix vaccine and a supply shortage, the vaccine manufacturer is managing the timing and distribution of the vaccine throughout the United States. It plans to continue to manage the availability of the vaccine and hopes to make available the same or increased number of doses and to shorten the wait time for delivery this year .

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If Youre 50 Or Older Get Shingrix

This Month in Archives of Dermatology
  • Shingrix provides strong protection from shingles and long-term nerve pain.
  • Get Shingrix even if you already had shingles, because you can get the disease more than once.
  • Your risk of shingles and complications increases as you age.
  • You need 2 doses of Shingrix. Get the second dose 2 to 6 months after you get the first dose.

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How Long Is Shingles Contagious

Similar to chickenpox, shingles is a contagious illness. But, before we address how long you may be contagious, we need to talk about how shingles spreads which might actually surprise you.

Shingles is indeed contagious, but it can only be spread to people who havent yet had chickenpox, or the chickenpox vaccine. In these cases, the shingles virus typically spreads via direct contact with the opened blisters of your rash. After being infected, a person doesnt develop shingles, though he or she develops chickenpox, explains Dr. Brown.

Since you cant really know who is and who isnt susceptible to chickenpox, its important to take safety measures if you have shingles.

When you have shingles, youre considered contagious until your open sores crust and scab over. This generally takes between 7 to 10 days, says Dr. Brown. Depending on where your rash develops on your body and where you work, you may be able to return to work before your shingles dry up.

Before your rash dries up, Dr. Brown recommends the following to prevent spreading shingles to others:

  • Make sure your rash is covered with gauze
  • Limit interaction with other people if your shingles rash is on your face
  • Consult with your doctor about returning to work if you work in a medical setting or nursing home, as well as if you interact with people frequently while at work

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What Is A Dermatologist

A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions of the hair, nails, and skin. They can diagnose and treat more than 3,000 diseases of the skin, hair, and nails, as well as cosmetic concerns.

They are experts in skincare and have extensive knowledge and training in the management of cosmetic disorders of the skin . They often deal with conditions that are more than just skin deep and may be associated with many diseases of the blood, organs, and organ systems.

Dermatologists may often perform specialized procedures for the diagnosis of conditions related to the skin. They may provide treatments such as:

  • Topical , injected, and oral medicines
  • Ultraviolet light therapy
  • Several surgical procedures on the skin
  • Cosmetic procedures, such as chemical peels, micro-dermabrasion and sclerotherapy

Dermatologists may have training and experience in areas such as:

  • Excision surgery with appropriate closures

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The Doctor Gives A Local Anesthetic

The biopsy area is cleansed, usually with alcohol, and then a local anesthetic such as lidocaine is injected to numb the area, using a very fine needle. The lidocaine solution often contains epinephrine and sodium bicarbonate . The patient will feel a slight pinch of the needle, and then a brief burning sensation as the anesthetic is injected. A feeling of pressure may also occur when the local anesthesia is injected into a relatively taut area of skin such as the fingers or toes. If the patient is apprehensive regarding the injection, a topical anesthetic can be applied for one to two hours prior to the procedure to reduce the associated pain.

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A Dermatologist Checks Your Skin

How to treat shingles

Patients see dermatologists for multiple reasons, including concern regarding a particular skin lesion or worsening of a rash. In addition, patients at risk for skin cancer have total body skin examinations performed at regular intervals. Sometimes a patient may be referred to a dermatologist by a primary care physician for more specialized expertise. If you have a skin concern, your dermatologist will evaluate it during an office visit, asking questions about your skin issue and how long youve had it.

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When To See A Doctor

This is not the time to watch your symptoms develop and wait for the rash to run its course. Although most cases of shingles resolve in two to six weeks, the risk of longer-term complications rises with age, weakened immunity, and delay or absence of treatment. If you think you have shingles, its important to get diagnosed right away. You can see a general practitioner, family medicine physician, internist, dermatologist, or neurologist for an evaluation.

Starting antiviral medications as soon as symptoms arise, within 24 to 72 hours of the first sign of a rash , can shorten the duration and severity of your illness and ease the pain of shingles. Early treatment can also reduce the risk of complications. Postherpetic neuralgia, the most common shingles complication, causes persistent pain even after the rash disappears.

Tell your doctor why you think it might be shingles. If a diagnosis cannot be confirmed based on signs and symptoms, he or she can order tests to determine whether you have shingles.

How Long Does Shingles Last

Most cases of shingles last between 35 weeks and follow a consistent pattern of pain and healing or stages of shingles. For patients with healthy immune systems, the blisters tend to clear in 710 days, and the pain may stop in 12 months. The first sign is often burning sensations or tingling pain, but it may also include numbness or itching on one side of the body. A few days after the tingling or burning sensation develops on the skin, a rash appears. After, the rash produces fluid-filled blisters. Approximately a week to 10 days after the blisters appear, they dry out and crust over. Following this, the scabs clear up within a few weeks of this completed cycle.

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How Dermatologists Treat Shingles

There is a vaccine for preventing shingles, although it does not cure the onset of shingles. Once you have an outbreak, your dermatologist can recommend a plan of treatment to ease the pain of shingles and reduce the rash. Your dermatologist may prescribe anti-viral and pain medications to attack the virus and make you feel more comfortable while the rash heals. Your dermatologist may also suggest steps you can take at home to ease the itching and pain of shingles. If you believe you may have shingles, its important to seek medical attention. Your dermatologist can help you with pain management and help you heal faster. Avoid contact with women who are pregnant, anyone who has not had chickenpox or has not been vaccinated against the virus, and people who have weak immune systems. Once the blisters have completely scabbed over, the condition is no longer contagious.

If you are concerned about shingles, to schedule an appointment with our board-certified dermatologists or walk into Walk-in Dermatology at your convenience for immediate evaluation.

Doctors Of Osteopathic Medicine

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A Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine focuses on medicine geared to treat the whole person. A DO emphasizes the importance of preventing medical conditions and maintaining long-term physical well-being.

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.

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How To Survive Shingles

Remember that time I got the shingles? I know I wont be forgetting that experience anytime soonFor anyone who has had or currently has shingles, you know this is a pain you wont soon forget. They call it adult chicken pox, but I can assure you its far worse than chicken pox ever was. That or my memory is playing tricks on me!

Im going to skip over the whole medical diagnosis part since your doctor should probably be the one doing that but instead describe my personal experience with the shingles and what I did to nip it in the bud. The first thing I did when I got diagnosed, was immediately take to the internet to see if anyone had helpful tips for healing shingles. I read a lot of horror stories, some not-so-horror stories but also some really productive tips. Im hoping this post can be that for some of you. Or if you have a friend or family member suffering, feel free to pass onto them. We got this!

So, first things first

When To See A Dermatologist

If a rash or other skin problem covers more than 10% of your body, consult a dermatologist immediately, especially if you have fever, joint aches, muscle pain, difficulty swallowing or you cant sleep.

Talk to a dermatologist for any ulcers that wont heal after a week or two, he says. These open sores can lead to serious infections.

Dont take the mild appearance of a new skin condition lightly, either. A skin problem is sometimes the first sign of a significant, systemic autoimmune disease, such as lupus. Diagnosing skin inflammation can also reveal inflammation in your organs, including the lungs, kidneys or liver.

Dermatologists can offer:

  • Faster diagnosis: If you suspect a serious problem, but start with your primary care doctor, you may wait longer for a diagnosis. In serious cases, this increases the risk of more severe organ damage, potentially leading to acute respiratory distress syndrome or significant damage to your kidneys or liver. Even if a skin-related symptom is mild, you can have a pattern of rash that a dermatologist can recognize immediately that is worrisome.
  • Scar prevention: Dermatologists will treat lupus, scalp conditions associated with hair loss and severe acne aggressively enough so that they dont lead to scarring.

As advanced as cosmetic procedures are, theres no definitive way to reverse scarring, says Dr. Fernandez. So, the longer the problem goes on, the more extensive permanent damage can become.

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What To Know About The Shingles Vaccine

Even if you already had shingles, Goldstein recommends getting the vaccine, which contains an inactivated virus, since its possible to get shingles more than once.

The vaccine can reduce the severity and incidence of shingles, and most importantly the incidence of post-herpetic neuralgia which is the worst part of shingles the chronic pain, she says.

Much like the COVID-19 mRNA shots, there can be side effects with the shingles vaccine.

It is very individual in terms of vaccine side effects. There are certainly a large number of individuals, about forty-four percent, who get myalgias and other similar symptoms compared to about eighty-two percent with the COVID vaccination, says Goldstein.

Most health insurance companies will cover the cost of the vaccine if you are over 50. If youre not, you might need to pay out-of-pocket, which can cost around $200.

The next time I see my doctor, I plan to ask about receiving the vaccine, even though Im under 50. I was lucky that I had a mild case and I dont want to get it again or possibly get a severe case if I can help it.

Finding The Right Treatment For Shingles

What is Shingles?
  • Take a cool or lukewarm bath with oatmeal
  • Reduce stress with a relaxing activity
  • Apply cool compresses
  • Keep the rash dry by applying corn starch or baking soda
  • Wear loose clothing

Although Shingles can be quite debilitating and painful, keep in mind that it is treatable. The sooner you seek medical care, the sooner you can shorten its duration, avoid further complications, and speed recovery. Adhere to the following guidelines if you suspect or know for sure you have contracted the Shingles virus:

  • Contact your physician right away
  • Take the prescribed dosage of antiviral medication without delay
  • Follow any instructions given for ease of rash pain
  • Avoid contact with vulnerable groups while the rash is still present
  • Tell your doctor if you continue to have pain.

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Other Health Problems Due To Shingles

Some people develop other health problems after the shingles rash clears, which include:

Postherpetic neuralgia : This is the most common. Occurring where you had the rash, PHN can cause constant tingling, burning, and pain. For others, the pain comes and goes.

Whether the pain is constant or intermittent, it can go on for a long time. You can have PHN for months, years, or the rest of your life. There is no way to know how long it will last.

The pain caused by PHN can become so severe that it interferes with your life, making everyday activities painful. A musician may no longer be able to play an instrument. Some people cannot walk comfortably. It may be difficult to bathe or get dressed. You may have trouble sleeping.

How to prevent PHN: If you have shingles, you can greatly reduce your risk of PHN by getting treated for shingles within 3 days of developing the rash.

Get treated for shingles within 3 days of developing the rash

Taking antiviral medication within 3 days of getting the shingles rash can: Reduce your risk of developing PHN Ease symptoms of shingles Clear the shingles rash more quickly

Other health problems that can develop after the shingles rash clears include:

  • Blindness or loss of some eyesight

Although rare, some people die of shingles.

Treatment can prevent these complications.

You can find out if you have a greater risk of developing shingles at, Shingles: Causes.


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