If you previously had chickenpox, you are at risk for shingles. This viral infection can cause painful symptoms that often require treatment from a dermatologist. If you experience shingles, the expert providers at West Sound Dermatology in Poulsbo, WA can help.
What is Shingles?
Shingles is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles typically occurs in adults who previously had chickenpox. The virus remains dormant in the nerve tissues, but can reactivate years later. Shingles is not life-threatening, but the symptoms can be painful and disruptive.
Shingles causes a painful rash, which usually appears as a stripe of blisters on one side of the torso. The rash can include fluid-filled blisters, which may break and crust. Most patients experience pain as the first symptom of shingles, which can be intense. Many shingles patients also experience itching, headache, fatigue and sensitivity to light.
Treatments for Shingles
While shingles cannot be cured, treatments are available to offer relief from symptoms and reduce the chance of complications. Antiviral medications such as acyclovir (Zovirax), valacyclovir (Valtrax) or famciclovir can be prescribed to speed recovery and lessen symptoms. Your provider may also prescribe medications to treat severe pain as needed. Options may include:
- Capsaicin topical patches (Qutenza)
- Corticosteroid or local anesthetic injections
- Numbing agents such as lidocaine creams or gels
- Narcotic medications such as codeine
- Tricyclic antidepressants