How to Diagnose Shingles

Diagnose Shingles
Diagnose Shingles

How to Diagnose Shingles. Shingles is a viral infection from the same group of viruses that cause chickenpox, genital herpes and cold sores. Once you've had chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus (also called herpes zoster virus) can remain dormant in your nerves for years.

Look at the Symptoms to Diagnose Shingles

Recognize the first sign of shingles to be burning or tingling pain, usually on only one side of the body. Sometimes numbness or itching accompanies the pain.

Check the site for the appearance of a rash with fluid-filled blisters. These blisters usually appear within a few days after the initial pain.

Watch for the outbreak to appear as a band of blisters. This band is typically around the middle of the back and one side of the chest.

Understand symptoms to diagnose shingles, in addition to the rash, may include fever, headache, chills and an upset stomach.

Know the Treatment for Shingles

Submit to tests by your doctor to diagnose and begin treatment for shingles. A Tzanck smear involves examining the fluid from a shingles blister under the microscope. Viral cultures and skin biopsy are other means of identifying the herpes zoster virus.

Shorten the outbreak of shingles by contacting your physician to accurately diagnose the condition. Prompt treatment is essential. Antiviral medications such as acyclovir or valacyclovir are often prescribed in conjunction with corticosteroids which reduce pain and swelling.

Keep the area affected by shingles clean using only mild soap and luke-warm water.

Take all medications as prescribed by your doctor. Be on the lookout for signs of any new symptoms or if the outbreak doesn't go away within the amount of time given by your physician.

Understand the complications that can occur when shingles is left untreated. Encephalitis (swelling of the brain) is one of many neurological problems that can happen with shingles.

Tips & Warnings

  • Avoid scratching and apply cool water compresses several times a day for temporary relief of itching and pain.
  • If you have not had chickenpox, talk to your doctor about the latest vaccine approved by the FDA for preventing or reducing the risk of shingles in senior adults.
  • People who have had chickenpox or the vaccine for chickenpox are more susceptible to have an outbreak of shingles. Their chances increase if they are under a lot of stress or have a weakened immune system. Cancer patients are especially susceptible.
  • Take special precautions if an outbreak of shingles is near the eye. Contact your physician immediately.

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