If you have had chickenpox in your lifetime, then you are at risk for shingles (also known as herpes zoster). This is because the virus that causes chickenpox, varicella zoster virus (VZV), can lie dormant in your nerve tissue for quite some time and is able to reactivate later. That reactivation is what we call shingles.
The good news is that quite a bit is known about shingles in the medical community, which has led to the creation of two vaccines as well as many other treatment options. Today we’re going to walk you through the basics of shingles, including information about those treatment options as well as early identification tips.
Signs & Symptoms
The most obvious symptom of is the classic red rash that appears on only one side of the body. That rash is typically red in color and forms in a pattern of blisters that can resemble a stripe. Some of the additional signs and symptoms can include:
- Pain, itching and/or tingling at outbreak site prior to outbreak
- Sensitivity to touch
- Muscle weakness
If you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms, Your Family Medical has several Lewisville doctors accepting new patients (locations also in Benbrook, Bedford, Boyd and Justin) who would be available for a consultation.
As mentioned above, there are preventative measures you can take to decrease your chances of contracting shingles. If you are 50 or older, there are two FDA-approved vaccines available – called Zostavax and Shingrix – for you to consult your doctor about.
There is no cure for shingles however there are treatments available to help ease the discomfort associated with it. These treatment options include:
- Gels, numbing cream and/or patches
- Tricyclic Antidepressants or Anticonvulsants
- Narcotic medications
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Antiviral medications
There are a handful of possible complications associated with shingles that could cause long-term effects. The most common of these is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) which is long term nerve pain. PHN occurs in 10% to 18% of people with shingles, especially in those who are over the age of 40. Depending on the location of your shingles rash, some of the other long-term complications can include:
- Vision problems or vision loss
- Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
- Swelling in lungs, brain and/or liver (extremely uncommon)
Early detection and treatment significantly decrease the chances of developing long-term complications from shingles. Your Family Medical has some of the very best healthcare associates Lewisville TX has to offer (locations also in Benbrook, Bedford, Boyd and Justin) who can get you on the path to recovery quickly.
FAQ’s About Shingles
Q: Is shingles contagious?
A: You cannot get shingles from someone who has shingles. However, if a person who has never had chickenpox or has never had the chickenpox vaccine comes in contact with the rash from shingles, that person could contract chickenpox.
Q: Can someone under the age of 60 get shingles?
A: Although shingles is much more common in individuals over the age of 50, it is possible to contract shingles as a younger adult or even a child. Anyone with a weakened immune system is more at risk regardless of age.
Q: Will the shingles vaccine guarantee that I won’t get shingles?
A: No. The vaccine is, however, likely to decrease the chances of long-term effects or complications. It’s also been shown to decrease the severity of shingles symptoms should you contract it.
With 5 Texas locations in Lewisville, Bedford, Benbrook, Boyd and Justin, we offer convenient and comprehensive care for you and your loved ones. Whether it’s a potential case of shingles or just a routine wellness-check, our doctors will take the time to listen to your concerns and treat you with dignity, respect and care. Get in touch today to schedule your first appointment.
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