How to treat shinglesApr 17, 2023
If you've ever had chickenpox or been vaccinated against it, you're at risk of getting
shingles, a painful, blistering rash. The chickenpox virus stays in the body, even after the chickenpox is gone. If the virus reactivates or wakes up, you will have
shingles. Although shingles is much less contagious and itchy than chickenpox, it tends to cause more pain. Shingles most often appear on the back, chest, and stomach, but can also occur on the face and head, or on the legs. 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 for one to three days. - A rash that starts as red dots and quickly turns into clusters of clear, painful blisters. These may turn yellow or bloody before they scab over and scar. - Flu-like symptoms: Fever or headache may occur with the rash - Pain: Sometimes the pain is bad enough that a doctor prescribes medication. The blisters tend to last two to three weeks. Once they heal, the pain tends to lessen. Although the shingles rash clears up within a few weeks, some people with shingles may experience pain, numbness, itching, and tingling that can last for months or even years.
If you suspect you have shingles, see a board-certified dermatologist right away. A dermatologist can prescribe antiviral medications. When used within 72 hours of the rash appearing, the medication may decrease pain and the duration of pain. To help ease pain and discomfort at home, follow these dermatologists' tips for
treating shingles. Cool the rash with ice packs, cool wet washcloths, or cool baths. Gently apply calamine lotion to the blisters. Do not pick, scratch, or pop the blisters, as the blisters help the skin to heal. Cover the rash with loose, nonstick, sterile bandages. Finally, wear loose cotton clothing to cover the affected body parts.
If you're not sure if your rash is shingles, if you have shingles on your face, or if you're in a lot of pain, see a board-certified dermatologist right away. If you're over 50, getting the shingles vaccine can also prevent or lessen the severity of a shingles episode. Also, although shingles is much less contagious than chickenpox, a person with shingles can still spread the virus. If you have shingles, avoid contact with anyone who has not had chickenpox or been vaccinated. To find a dermatologist in your area or learn more about shingles, visit aad.org.
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