Diagnosing and Treating Shingles Early

Some people pay relatively little attention to the first signs of a skin irritation. In the early stages, it is difficult to recognize the potential seriousness of a skin rash. Individuals who are actually developing a case of shingles can reduce the severity of the outbreak by identifying the condition and taking antiviral medication as soon as possible.

Shingles is a reoccurrence of the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person has a bout of chickenpox, the virus continues to lie dormant. Your immune system normally keeps the dormant virus in check for the remainder of your life. However, in some adults with weakened immune systems, the virus may reappear as an outbreak of shingles.

The first signs of shingles can be easily mistaken for a brush with poison ivy. The early symptoms of both conditions include tingling and itching in a particular skin area. A poison ivy rash is sometimes accompanied by blisters in the irritated area. A shingles outbreak typically causes blisters as it worsens. By the time that skin blisters develop, your general physician is needed to accurately diagnose the condition.

Early visual diagnosis

A key characteristic of shingles is that the outbreak is usually limited to only one side of the body. The particular portion of the nervous system affected by shingles is located either to the left or right of a vertical midline. If a shingles outbreak is located near the midline of the body, the red rash may appear to end precisely at the midline. In contrast, a rash caused by poison ivy might be scattered on both your left and right side.

Antiviral medication

Early intervention is key to minimizing the harmful effect of shingles. There are antiviral drugs that can control the spread of the virus. By intervening in the shingles outbreak as soon as possible, you may also reduce the likelihood of experiencing the possible long-term complications of shingles.

Potential neuralgia pain

Even though most individuals never experience a second outbreak of shingles, a single occurrence may trigger an ongoing skin sensitivity referred to as neuralgia. In some individuals, neuralgia pain may be experienced in the skin area affected by shingles, even after the rash and blisters have completely healed.

A vaccine is available for older adults to reduce the likelihood of experiencing a future case of shingles. For any current skin irritation that appears to resemble an emerging shingles outbreak, you should seek prompt medical attention. Contact a general physician for more information about the prevention or treatment of shingles. To find out more, speak with someone like Mount Laurel Primary Care Physicians.