Shingles is an itchy, painful skin condition that is a reaction to the varicella-zoster virus. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Dr. Aradhna Saxena and her team of medical professionals treat shingles, which can appear anywhere on the body. In most instances, shingles appear on the torso or on the side of the face as a line of blisters. While it is more common for older adults to develop shingles, it can also affect teens and young adults. Most patients who have a bout with shingles will improve and not experience the condition again. However, it can return for some patients. Researchers believe that shingles are caused by a weakened immune system or a disruption within the nervous system. Our skilled and knowledgeable team is able to effectively treat shingles and decrease its likelihood of reoccurrence. If you believe you have shingles, schedule a consultation at our Fort Washington, Lansdale, or Willow Grove, PA location.
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Anyone who has ever had chickenpox is at risk of developing shingles, because after recovering from chickenpox, the virus may enter the nervous system and lie dormant for many years. A weakened immune system caused by stress, disease, or general aging can put a patient at risk for developing shingles. It's not entirely clear why the virus is reactivated, but only shingles can develop — not chickenpox. There's also a small chance that an individual with a shingles rash can spread the virus to someone who's never had chickenpox.
The symptoms of shingles are usually only noticeable on a small area of one side of your body. The most common symptoms are pain, tingling, numbness, itching or burning, and/or a red rash. Other symptoms include sensitivity to touch and fluid-filled blisters that can break open and crust over, as well as fatigue, sensitivity to light, fever, or a headache. Some patients may feel as if they have the flu. Those who have shingles usually find that their symptoms arrive in stages, with pain occurring first and then visible skin-related symptoms following.
While there's no cure for shingles, there are a variety of antiviral drugs that can provide relief, clear up symptoms, and minimize the chance of complications. Since shingles can be painful, we may prescribe a numbing agent in the form of a gel, cream, skin patch, or spray. A pain relief cream, such as capsaicin cream, can be applied to the shingles rash to reduce pain. Prescription-strength painkillers can also be prescribed. In some cases, we may prescribe an antidepressant to help you cope with the pain and symptoms and decrease the chance of post-herpetic neuralgia (persistent pain in the area after the shingles rash has healed).
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If you have experienced any of the painful or visible symptoms associated with shingles, please call the Dermatology and Skin Cancer Institute today to schedule an appointment for a thorough examination. Our team of highly trained medical professionals led by Dr. Aradhna Saxena will document your symptoms, provide a proper diagnosis, and get you started with the proper treatment protocol.