What Are Shingles?

Shingles is a viral infection associated with a painful rash and blisters. The condition is caused by a virus called varicella-zoster, which also causes chickenpox. Anyone who has previously had chickenpox is at risk for developing shingles later in life. Dr. Gerald Peters, the experienced provider at Peters Dermatology Center in Bend, OR, diagnoses and treats shingles.

Shingles and its Symptoms

The varicella-zoster virus that causes shingles remains inactive in the nerve tissues near the brain and spinal cord after a person has had chickenpox. If the virus reactivates years later, it returns as shingles. Individuals 50 years of age or older are at a higher risk for developing shingles and the risk increases with age. 

Shingles is not a life-threatening condition, but it can cause pain and discomfort. In some cases, the pain can continue even after the rash and blisters have cleared up. Lingering pain and discomfort is a complication known as postherpetic neuralgia. Other possible complications include skin infections, vision loss, and neurological problems. These can be prevented by seeking treatment promptly. 

In addition to pain and discomfort in the area of the shingles outbreak, other symptoms of the infection include:

  • Rash
  • Blisters
  • Numbness
  • Burning or tingling 
  • Itching 

A shingles rash usually looks like a strip of blisters and most commonly appears on one side of the torso. It is also possible for the rash to develop on one side of the face or neck or around one eye. Some individuals also experience headaches, fatigue, fever, and light sensitivity as a result of having shingles. 

Treatment for Shingles

Seeking medical treatment for shingles early on helps shorten the duration of the infection and reduces the risk of complications, such as postherpetic neuralgia. Treatment options include antiviral medications, anti-inflammatory medications, pain relief medications, and medication for nerve pain. The skilled doctor at our dermatology clinic in Bend, OR, provides medical treatment for shingles. 

Shingles Vaccine

A shingles vaccine is available that helps prevent shingles or reduce an individual’s risk for developing it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that adults 50 years or older get the vaccine. It is administered in two doses over several months. Possible side effects of the shingles vaccine include redness, swelling, itching, pain, and tenderness around the injection site. 

Shingles can cause pain and discomfort even after the initial rash and blisters have cleared. Prompt medical treatment could help reduce symptoms, as well as potential complications. For the treatment of shingles in Bend, OR, schedule an appointment with Dr. Peters by calling Peters Dermatology Center at (541) 323-7546.

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