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Shingles

Shingles, also known as Herpes Zoster (human herpes virus type 3, or HHV-3) is a painful viral skin disease. The patient often experiences painful sensations before any rash develops. The rash may appear anywhere on the body. Older patients are most likely to get this disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it isn’t curable. Patient’s who previously had chicken pox should know the symptoms of the disease. The same virus that causes chicken pox causes the disease.

An episode of shingles rash takes about three to four weeks to clear. Most patients suffer no scarring in the aftermath of an outbreak. Like all other conditions caused by the herpes virus family, early treatment may reduce symptoms. Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta, a triple-board certified dermatology practice, evaluates, diagnoses, and treats patients with skin disease such as Herpes Zoster.shingles skin virus, Atlanta | Dr. Kathleen J. Smith

Onset

According to the American Pain Foundation, the best single identifier of shingles is the “announcement” of burning or sharp pain in a localized area during the prodomal stage. Headache is common. Rash develops in the affected area. Patients experience exceptional skin sensitivity at this time. The touch of another person, clothes, or water from a bath or shower can cause excruciating pain. There may be a sharp, stabbing sensation, tingling, or numbness in the area where the rash will develop. The patient may experience flu-like symptoms, including diarrhea, chills, nausea or swollen lymph glands.

Pain and rash most commonly appear on the patient’s back or chest, but it’s also possible to develop rash on the face, abdomen, leg, or arm. Rash tends to appear on one side of the patient’s body.

Rash usually appears within three to five days from the first pain. It begins as a red, inflamed-looking rash that covers the part of the body where the patient experienced pain. Within one or more days, the rash forms small, clear fluid-filled lesions or blisters that open or burst if touched. As the condition progresses, blisters drain or burst to leave crust-like residue. Some patients, especially those who begin treatment before the rash develops, never produce rash. Dr. Kathleen J. Smith helps diagnosed patients prevent and manage symptomatic HHV-3 outbreaks. Patients wishing to avoid this condition may take some preventive steps.

Herpes Zoster Prevention

Patients who’ve never had chicken box cannot get this disease. It’s important for these individuals to stay away from others with chicken pox. Vaccination against chicken pox is an especially good strategy, especially for young or older patients who’ve never had chicken pox. Vaccination will protect the patient from these diseases in the future.

Evaluation

The disease is often evaluated and diagnosed based upon the physical appearance of rash or pain level. An experienced dermatologist and dermopathologist such as Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta recognize the distinctive rash pattern and blisters’ appearance. Dr. Kathleen J. Smith may analyze a skin sample to confirm diagnosis.

Complications

This disease can cause nerve damage, known as postherpetic neuralgia, after the rash resolves. Some patients continue to experience pain for years after the lesions go away. Pain management is sometimes a necessity.

Patients may lose vision when an outbreak occurs around an eye or experience paralysis, hearing or balance problems, or encephalitis.

Treatment Options

This disease is most effectively treated with antiviral medicines within the first seventy-two hours of the appearance of inflamed rash. These medicines are also used throughout the course of an outbreak to lessen or prevent secondary illness, such as systemic complications.

The dermatologist may prescribe other medicines to help the patient heal, including anti-inflammatory medicines (rash) or medications for severe pain and discomfort. In some cases, topical creams are prescribed to numb or reduce itching of the rash. Some antidepressants or anticonvulsant medications may be prescribed.

Self-Care

Patients with rash or fluid-filled blisters should practice strict hand washing to avoid the rare likelihood of spreading the disease to another body location. It’s also important too bandage the outbreak area to avoid spreading the disease to other susceptible people. Someone with an active infection can give a non-immune person chicken pox if he or she isn’t vaccinated against the disease. Dr. Kathleen J. Smith will advise patients in how to care for the rash and when it’s okay to stop bandaging the lesions.

Conclusion

Patients who’ve previously had chicken pox can experience Herpes Zoster: those with concerns about this disease in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area, including North Atlanta, Decatur, North Decatur, Belvedere Park, Druid Hills/North Druid Hills, Tucker, Doraville, or Forest Park, GA, should contact Dermatology Specialists of Atlanta right away for an appointment at 678-904-4932.

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