Shingles is an illness caused by varicella zoster, the same virus that causes chicken pox. However, in the case of shingles, it takes hold in your nerve roots, resulting in a rash, typically on one side of the body or other.
Worse than the rash is the resulting nerve pain that is often associated with shingles. Because it is a nerve-based pain, it can be debilitating. The most severe cases can experience pain for six months or more, requiring more aggressive treatment than the initial anti-viral and pain medication prescriptions.
If you are experiencing pain for longer than two to three weeks, please return to your doctor. You may need additional treatment to deal with the pain. This can take the form of lidocaine patches, timed release pain medication, or even anti-depressants that will help you to deal with the pain until it finally disappears.
Some people are reluctant to start on the antidepressants, however, if you look at this as medication to treat a condition, you might change your mind. You will not necessarily have to remain on this medication. It is designed to help you through the horrific pain of the post-herpetic neuralgia that can affect any part of your body, including your eyes.
Do not delay seeking treatment if you suspect that you have shingles. Starting on medication within two days can really ease your symptoms and lessen the likelihood of developing the debilitating nerve pain.
Yes, keep the area covered when you go out in public. The worst problem is coming in contact with individuals who are immunocompromised. As long as you are responsible about your illness, you should not spread the virus. Once the rash blisters scab over you are less likely to be contagious.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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