Over a million Americans develop shingles every year. The condition is caused by the chickenpox virus known as varicella-zoster virus and can cause blistering skin rash and pain. That is why Walnut Creek, CA pain management specialists focus on developing a plan to alleviate your discomfort and pain as there is no direct cure for the condition. The treatment plan focuses on helping you recover faster. If you had chickenpox before, the virus remains in your body and can be the reason for your shingles flare-up. Knowing how to recognize the condition’s symptoms is essential to understand when to seek medical attention, and the following tips can help you.
Watch out for Uncomfortable Skin Sensations
In the early stages of shingles development, you can start experiencing itching, pain, or tingling sensation in the affected area. It can even become numb and feel sensitive when you touch it. This mainly happens about five days before the skin rashes show up and can be an excellent sign to seek medical attention to manage the shingles effectively. Track down such symptoms and explain them to your doctor during your appointment.
Recognize the Shingles Rashes
Rashes are the main symptoms of shingles, and recognizing them allows you to seek proper treatment on time. Generally, look for redness that mainly develops after you initially experience itching, pain, tingling, and numbness on the affected area of your skin. You can also identify blisters that are slightly painful swelling due to the rushes that are often filled with fluid. The blisters will develop in groups, and it would be better not to touch or scratch them as the fluid contains the virus, and you can spread it in other areas of your body.
Note the Location of Your Symptoms
You will develop shingles on one side of your face or body, particularly the side with the nerves affected by the virus. Some common places to develop shingles signs and symptoms include ribs, neck, shoulders, or face. But the stripe wrapping around your torso is the most commonly affected area. However, certain complications such as HIV, an autoimmune disorder that weakens your immune system, can make the virus widespread, and you can experience symptoms on both sides of your body.
Pay Attention to Other Symptoms
Sometimes the virus responsible for shingles can cause other symptoms affecting your whole body besides the rashes and pain on your skin. You may experience fever, headache, nausea or upset stomach, and chills. Report such symptoms to your doctor, particularly when they accompany the rashes.
Identify Your Risk Factors
Certain things increase your chances of developing shingles. Generally, if you once had chickenpox, you can get shingles despite the myth that you cannot get it again if you get chickenpox. Additionally, notice when you are exposed to the shingles virus that is spread by touching the blisters or the fluid in the blisters. Therefore, be careful when around people suffering from the condition. Also, it is good to consider if you are at a higher risk of infection as it can increase your chances of developing shingles. This is mainly when your immune system is weakened, especially due to aging or other health complications such as HIV/AIDS, leukemia, and cancer treatments.
Contact Leslie DeLaney, MD, a shingles pain specialist in Walnut Creek at Balanced Pain Management, if you suspect or already have the symptoms for the condition. Dr. DeLaney will diagnose the signs to help you understand the most effective treatment option to offer you relief.