First Aid Handbook: Shingles

A woman scratches shingles on her arm
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You may have heard about shingles. You also may think they might have something to do with chickenpox. Other than that, you may not be sure what it is. The Center for Disease Control states that one in every three adults will contract shingles at some point in their life. Integrity Urgent Care has all of the information you need on what shingles is and how you can protect yourself and your family from this virus.

 

 

Symptoms

Shingles is a reactivation of the chickenpox virus and is an infection of the nerves. A common symptom of shingles is a rash or blisters that can appear anywhere on the body, but usually only shows on one side. There is commonly a shooting pain or occasionally itching that is paired with the rash. Unfortunately, this pain can last for months or years after the virus goes away. Some patients may have a stomach ache, fever, or headache early in their illness. Patients who have shingles on their face will need to be careful to monitor blisters around their eyes, rarely the virus can impact your vision.

Treatment

There is no treatment for shingles, the virus needs to run its course through your body. That being said, many may want to feel some relief from their pain, which can be helped by regular pain relief methods like cold compresses, oatmeal baths, and creams or lotions. Antiviral medications may help in some cases where the potential for nerve damage is higher.

Prevention

The best way to prevent shingles is to get a vaccination. There are two different options for vaccination from shingles. According to Johns Hopkins, “experts recommend vaccination for all adults 50 and older, even if you’ve had shingles before.” Shingles is more common in patients with a weakened immune system so, like other illnesses, it is important for these patients to take extra precautions. If you or a family member has shingles, it is important to keep the rash covered and clean. While you “cannot spread the virus before rash blisters appear or after the rash crusts,” according to the CDC, you still want to keep your skin clean.

When to See a Doctor

Shingles can be diagnosed with skin scrapings at your doctor’s office. If the rash has been present for more than 2-3 days, some of the treatment may not be as effective, so getting into our offices is important if you suspect you have it. Shingles can also cause a bacterial infection or chronic pain. It is possible that our medical team can reduce the severity and length of some of the symptoms and side effects with early treatment.

If you suspect you have shingles, come in to see our Integrity team right away. Contact us to set an appointment and be seen by our medical staff. We offer a number of payment options and our courteous team will help you to be seen and on your way in no time.

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