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How do you know if it's shingles?
by Jamie Myles
12/08/08
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Shingles is a very common condition. One in four people are affected by it at sometime in their life. There is a definite link to Chickenpox.
Chickenpox is a childhood disease and it tends to only cause mild illness. Once you have had chickenpox, you usually become immune to it for life. However, after you have had chicken pox, the varicella zoster virus also known as herpes zoster remains in the nerve cells of your spinal cord for life.

The first symptom of shingles is often over-sensitivity, tingling, itching or a burning sensation of the skin. After a few days, a rash develops. It usually appears as a band, following the route of a nerve supply to the skin. Usually this occurs on one side of your body or one side of your face. A few days later, you can expect to see a rash appear on the same area of your skin. At first, the rash consists of small red spots and reddened skin in the same area. The spots then turn into blisters, which dry up after a while and gradually form scabs. Once the scabs have fallen off, a small pock-mark may be left.

The Shingles rash can be very painful.The pain can be mild, moderate, or severe. The rash may last up to 30 days, and for most people the pain will decrease as it heals. However, for some people, even after the rash heals, long-term nerve pain that can last for months or even years may develop. This condition is called postherpetic neuralgia. The pain can be quite severe and is more prevalent and severe in older adults.

What Are the Treatments for Shingles?
Shingles usually clears up on its own, although it can recur if you have a weakened immune system.
Antiviral medicines can speed up healing and control pain. Treatment should begin within 72 hours of the onset of symptoms. Contact to your doctor immediately if you think you may have Shingles so that treatment may begin right away.

For pain associated with Shingles, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain medications or prescription medications. The treatment for long-term nerve pain may be complex, requiring multiple medications. Treatments may include: topical skin medications, anticonvulsants, narcotics ,and over-the-counter pain medication such as Tylenol or Advil. You and your Doctor will make the best determination for your treatment.

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