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shingles photo

Do you remember getting chicken pox as a child? Most of us are able to vividly recall the intense itching, calamine lotion, and missing school until the infection passed. We were told that we needed to have chickenpox as children, when it was safe, because getting it later in life was more dangerous. Once you had chickenpox, you were immune for life and would never have to worry about it again…until it came back as shingles. But what does that mean?

In this article, we will discuss what causes shingles, how it’s linked to the chickenpox virus you had as a child, and why you should see a board-certified dermatologist if you have a rash you suspect is shingles.

What is Shingles?

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash and is most common in adults over the age of 50. Caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox (varicella-zoster virus or human herpesvirus 3), the virus lies dormant in the body for many years before reactivating as shingles.

Shingles is typically a mild illness, though it can cause significant pain that can last for weeks or months. In severe cases, nerve damage may occur, so it’s important to have any suspicious rashes or lesions examined and treated by a board-certified dermatologist.

Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk for developing shingles later in life, since varicella zoster remains dormant in nerve roots near the spinal cord.

What Causes Shingles to Emerge?

Not everyone who has had chicken pox will experience shingles. There are many triggers for an outbreak, including  illness and stress. If you’re over the age of 50, you’re more likely to experience shingles.

You Can Prevent Shingles

You can protect yourself with a vaccine, typically administered in a series of shots within a 6 month period. If you have questions about the vaccination, please speak with our dermatology team at the Laser and Skin Surgery Center of Indiana (LASSI).

Why Choose the Laser and Skin Surgery Center of Indiana?

Our board-certified dermatologic surgeon, Dr. C. William Hanke, and his team of medically licensed dermatology experts are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of skin rashes.

Dr. Hanke and our team of dermatology specialists have conducted clinical studies for a variety of skin diseases, in addition to providing patients with relief and better skin quality. Dr. Hanke is regarded as a leader in dermatology and has held leadership roles at the national level, including past president of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery.

We also accept health insurance for your medical dermatology needs. Check your coverage with your insurance provider and call our office for more information on how your insurance can help cover some of your appointments.

How We Diagnose Shingles at the Laser and Skin Surgery Center of Indiana

Your appointment begins with a skin evaluation with our medical dermatology team. Led by board-certified dermatologist and founder of the LASSI Dr. C. William Hanke, our providers will examine your skin rash to determine if it’s shingles.

To make this determination, we will look at the rash and ask you a series of questions. What are we looking for? Common signs of shingles include:

  1. Known previous chicken pox infection
  2. Painful rash that presents on one side of the body
  3. Blisters
  4. Tingling, itching, and even numbness

If you show the signs of shingles, we recommend booking an appointment with our Indianapolis dermatology team for diagnosis and prompt treatment.

How We Treat Shingles

A dermatologist treats shingles using prescription antiviral medications to help clear the infection. We may also prescribe pain relief medication and/or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and itching. If you think you might have shingles, see a dermatologist right away for diagnosis and treatment. Early detection is key to preventing long-term complications.

After the rash clears up, it’s important to discuss getting vaccinated to help prevent future recurrence.

Book an Appointment With Our Indianapolis Dermatology Team

Do you suspect shingles or have a suspicious rash or lesions on your skin? If so, it’s important to schedule a skin evaluation at a dermatology clinic. A board-certified dermatologist can examine your skin to determine the diagnosis, discuss causes, and offer proven treatment options and recommendations to prevent recurrence.

We invite you to book an appointment with our team at the Laser and Skin Surgery Center of Indiana. Our goal is to help relieve your symptoms, treat your skin conditions, and help you achieve healthier skin.