Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Chicago
What is Shingles (Herpes Zoster)?
The rash of Shingles begins as red patches that soon develop blisters. The blisters may remain small or can become large. They heal in 2 – 4 weeks. In some cases, they may leave scars which may require additional treatment.
What causes Shingles (Herpes Zoster)?
Many patients mistakenly believe that “nervousness” causes Shingles. However, it does not. Shingles is a viral infection of a nerve and has nothing to do with being “nervous.” Shingles (Herpes Zoster) is a nerve infection caused by the chicken pox virus. Shingles results from reactivation of a chicken pox virus that has remained in your body since you had chicken pox – perhaps many years ago. The virus activation is limited to a nerve root. That accounts for the pattern of the rash, which always stops at the body’s midline. The nerve involvement explains the stinging, burning, or pain common in shingles. Some patients have discomfort before the rash appears.
How can I treat Shingles (Herpes Zoster)?
Most cases of Shingles are treated with an antiviral medicine. We will also try to make you as comfortable as possible while healing.
If you have much pain, you can be given a prescription painkiller to take until the pain subsides. The pain is caused by neuritis – inflammation of a nerve. Cortisone shortens this neuritis and is often prescribed for it. The blistering rash usually clears up in a few weeks. The discomfort may persist longer.
Until your rash has healed you should keep away from persons who have never had chicken pox. Small children or infants can catch chicken pox from someone with Shingles. Persons whose resistance is lowered by illness or certain medications can also catch Shingles. Contact with healthy adults appears safe.