Idaho Skin Institute
Dermatology & Cosmetic Dermatology located in Chubbuck, Burley, Rexburg & Twin Falls, ID
Shingles affects one million people in the United States every year and usually starts as a painful sensation followed by a red, blistering rash. When left untreated, shingles may cause long-term nerve pain. The team of dermatologists at Idaho Skin Institute in Chubbuck, Burley, Twin Falls and Rexburg, Idaho, specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of shingles and provides the care you need to reduce your risk of chronic health complications. Call the office or book an appointment online today. Telehealth appointments are available.
Shingles Q & A
What are shingles?
Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is a skin disease caused by the return of a chickenpox infection. Anyone who’s had the chickenpox is at risk of developing shingles. The inactive virus lives in the nerve tissue around your brain and spinal cord.
Though it’s not clear what reactivates the latent virus, it’s theorized that a weakened immune system may leave you more vulnerable to the return of your chickenpox infection. Shingles is more common in older adults and people with weakened immune systems.
You can prevent shingles, or minimize your symptoms, by getting the shingles vaccination.
What are the symptoms of shingles?
Initially, shingles may start as a painful sensation you may mistake for a musculoskeletal injury or even a heart attack. Then within 1-2 days, the pain is followed by a red, blistering, one-sided rash that may be painful or itchy.
Your shingles symptoms may also include:
- Sensitivity to light
You should contact Idaho Skin Institute immediately if you’re experiencing shingles symptoms. Getting a diagnosis and treatment within the first 48-72 hours of the onset of shingles symptoms may prevent long-term health complications.
What health complications might shingles cause?
In addition to causing a painful rash, your shingles infection may lead to further health complications, especially when left untreated. Shingles health complications include:
Postherpetic neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that may occur if the shingles virus damages the sensory nerves under your skin. Early treatment may prevent the persistent, severe pain condition.
If you develop a shingles infection around the eye, called ophthalmic shingles, it may damage the eye and cause permanent vision loss due to herpetic keratitis.
If not properly treated, your shingles rash may increase your risk of developing a secondary skin infection.
A shingles infection may affect any part of your nervous system and cause neurological issues such as facial paralysis, encephalitis, or issues related to your ears that may cause imbalance, hearing loss, or ringing in the ears.
How is shingles treated?
Idaho Skin Institute develops personalized shingles treatment plans based on the onset and severity of symptoms. If diagnosed within 48-72 hours of symptoms, your dermatologist prescribes an antiviral medication to reduce the length of your infection.
They may also prescribe treatments to minimize your pain, such as:
- Capsaicin topical patch
- Anticonvulsant (treats nerve pain)
- Tricyclic antidepressant
- Numbing agents
Your shingles infection may last 2-6 weeks. Though it typically only occurs once in a lifetime, it’s possible to develop shingles more than once.
For the early and prompt treatment of shingles, call Idaho Skin Institute, or request an appointment online today. Telehealth appointments are available.