Often, we hear things and think we know about them. One of the most common examples of this is medical diagnoses. Many people may have heard of shingles, but if pressed to explain exactly what it is, why it happens, or how to treat this condition, they draw a blank. This is fine if you yourself never develop shingles in your life, but it can make diagnosing and managing it if you do have it a bit trickier.
Knowledge is power, so if you’ve ever wanted to know just what shingles are, how to spot them, and how to treat them, then this guide is for you.
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What Is Shingles?
Shingles is a viral infection that results in a painful rash on the skin. Specifically, it’s caused when a person contracts what’s known as the varicella-zoster virus. This same virus causes chicken pox, and, in fact, having chicken pox can be one of the causes of developing shingles later in life. This is because the virus can go dormant after you recover from chicken pox and then show up again years later, with most patients developing the rash in their 50s.
Common Signs of Shingles
Shingles rashes are hot, itchy, and tingling. The tingling and heat usually start first before any rash appears, so watch out if you notice anything strange but can’t see any difference on your skin. The rash will typically develop in the next few days, and then fluid-filled blisters will start developing in a week or two. Thankfully they don’t usually spread after they’ve established and keep to one area of the body.
Shingles can be very, very painful. Knowing how to treat shingles quickly can help spare you from a lot of pain and suffering and kickstart your healing process. While the first step is to, of course, seek medical advice for any antiviral medication as well as professional pain management options, you won’t want to stop there. Everyday routine treatments, as well as topical treatments, are also essential to help you treat shingles from the inside out.
The first step to treating shingles is, of course, to work on eradicating the virus from within. This is done through antiviral medication and, in certain cases, even anticonvulsants that work to block the pain signals to your brain. Pain medication is another benefit of seeing the doctor since shingles can be so painful it can keep you up at night.
Creams and even things like soothing baths can all work to help cool the skin and reduce issues like burning or itching. The last thing you want is to irritate the skin, so don’t pop the blisters or try to aggravate your skin in any way. Soothe it instead with creams, and work to keep the area clean and dry to prevent further infections. This can be done by using a saline bath and then wrapping up the area lightly in clean, sterile gauze.