What is Shingles?
Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles. After the chickenpox clears, the virus stays inside the body. If the virus reactivates (wakes up), the result is shingles — a painful, blistering rash.
The risk of getting shingles increases with age. A vaccine can reduce your risk of getting shingles. Your doctor may recommend getting this vaccine after your 50th birthday or once you reach 60 years of age. There’s another — and maybe even more important — the reason for getting the shingles vaccine. If you’ve had chickenpox, you can still get shingles after getting the shingles vaccine. The vaccine also lessens your risk of developing serious complications from shingles, such as life-disrupting nerve pain.
It is best to get treatment immediately. Treatment can include:
- Pain relievers to help ease the pain: The pain can be very bad, and prescription painkillers may be necessary.
- Anti-viral medicine: This medicine may be prescribed when a doctor diagnoses shingles within 72 hours of the rash first appearing. The earlier anti-viral treatment is started, the better it works. Anti-viral medicines include famciclovir, valacyclovir, and acyclovir. These can lessen the pain and the amount of time the pain lasts.
- Nerve blocks: Given for intense pain, these injections (shots) contain a numbing anesthetic and sometimes a corticosteroid.
- Corticosteroids: To lower swelling and pain, some patients may get corticosteroid pills with their anti-viral medicine. This treatment is not common because it can make the rash spread.
Adapted from original source: AAD