Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

*Practice update COVID-19 as of 4/28/2020

 

 

Dear Patient, 

 

I hope that you and your family are staying healthy in these trying times.  I have been closely monitoring the developments of COVID-19 in our community and across the country.  I am encouraged by the decline in new cases in our community and I am comfortable cautiously reopening our practice as of Friday, May 1st.  In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, I have implemented safety measures following the guidelines of the American Academy of Dermatology. 

Prior to a scheduled appointment, a Sun Valley Skin Center staff member will contact the patient and ask if they, or someone they have been in close contact with, are experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19.  A patient who is experiencing these symptoms will be asked to reschedule their appointment until the symptoms have resolved.  Patients will be asked to wear a mask when they enter the practice.  If a patient does not have a mask, we will request that they call the practice from the parking lot and a staff member will bring a mask to the patient.  Once patients enter the building, a staff member will immediately escort them into an exam room that has had all surfaces sterilized.  All Sun Valley Skin Center staff members will be wearing gloves and masks at all times.  Visits that can be rendered via telemedicine will continue to be conducted over our telemedicine platform for at least the month of May in an effort to reduce the amount of people in the office. 

I sincerely appreciate your participation in these efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community.  I ask that patients not bring children, friends or loved ones to their appointment.  I have been impressed with our community’s response to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  I think that it is important that we all remain vigilant and continue to adhere to public health guidelines to further reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

I thank you for the support of our practice and look forward to seeing you in the practice or virtually through telemedicine. 

Stay safe.  Stay healthy.

 

Sincerely,

Lindie Borton, MD

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shingles is a painful rash that is caused by the varicella zoster virus. It usually appears as a band or strip of blisters on one side of the body that goes from the spine around the front to the breastbone. However, shingles can also appear on the neck, nose and forehead.

Shingles derives from the same virus that causes chicken pox. After having chicken pox, the virus lies dormant in nerve tissue underneath the skin. Years later, and with no known reason, it reactivates and causes shingles. Shingles is contagious and can easily pass through touching from one person to another. The virus develops into shingles for people who have had chicken pox and develops into chicken pox for those who have not had it. Shingles appears most frequently among older adults (age 60+) and in people with compromised immune systems. Generally, a person only gets shingles once; it rarely recurs.

Symptoms for shingles include:

  • Pain, burning, numbness or tingling on one side of the body. The pain often precedes any other symptoms.
  • A rash that appears a few days after the pain. It may be itchy.
  • Blisters that break open and then crust over.
  • Fever, achiness or headache.

Some people never get a rash or blisters with shingles, but simply experience the pain.

Shingles is diagnosed based on a medical history and physical examination of the telltale rash. If you suspect you may have shingles, it is important to contact your doctor as quickly as possible. Early treatment can reduce the pain and severity of the episode. Two types of medications are prescribed to treat shingles:

  • Antiviral drugs to combat the virus, such as acyclovir, valacyclovir and famciclovir.
  • Pain medicines, from oral pain pills and antidepressants to anticonvulsants and topical preparations that contain skin-numbing agents.

Shingles usually heals in about 2 to 3 weeks without any problem. However, there is a small percentage of patients (10% to 15%), predominantly over age 50, who experience pain that lasts beyond one month after the healing period. This is called postherpetic neuralgia. Catching shingles early and beginning treatment can reduce the likelihood and severity of postherpetic neuralgia. See your dermatologist for pain relief.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a vaccine, called Zostavax, for the prevention of adult shingles. It is approved for adults age 60 or older who have had chicken pox. Essentially, the vaccine delivers a booster dose of chicken pox. The vaccine has proven to be very effective in reducing the incidence of shingles and postherpetic neuralgia.