What are Shingles?

Video Transcript:

Here’s another daily tip from your friendly local dermatologist in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Okay, what are shingles? Shingles, it’s a reactivation of the chickenpox virus that you had as a kid, and that chickenpox virus actually lives in your spine, in the dorsal root ganglia of your spine, and when you get majorly stressed, or have other infections that are going on in your body, that’s when you start to have a shingles outbreak. Now a shingles outbreak usually happens in what we call a dermatome, or an area that a nerve travels. So a lot of times you’ll have this band of pain and tingling, and then a couple of days later, you’ll notice some bumps develop here. If this happens, you need to see your local dermatologist or primary care physician as soon as possible, because the sooner we put you on anti-shingles medications, the quicker this is going to go down, the less time you are going to be infectious to other people, and the less pain you’re gonna get after the shingles is over.

So we have this thing called post-herpetic neuralgia or post shingles pain, and it can last for 6 to 12 months, and it can really affect your life in a negative way. So the sooner you start having weird symptoms that travel in a band, down your skin or even up here, the sooner we can get medication on board, the less of the pain you’ll experience afterwards, the less time you will be contagious, and the better you will do. Now you are contagious when you have the bumps of shingles. So you have to be very careful being around the very young, the very old, and the very sick. So please limit your exposure so that you’re not giving them chickenpox if they’ve never had it, because it can be very serious for them.

And for you, if you start getting headaches, or your your eyes are afraid of the light, you just can’t handle the light, or your neck is getting stiff, or you’re coughing a lot during your shingles outbreak, or you just feel crummy, that’s your clue to go to the emergency room. Because shingles can go into your brain, go into your eyes, and go in your lungs, it can go, disseminated throughout your body instead of in just a line. So please, seek care immediately, and remember prevention is worth, that much! So there are shingles vaccines. Please make sure you’re talking to your primary care doctor about getting that shingles vaccine, so that hopefully you can avoid an outbreak altogether, or you can at least make the outbreak a lot less bad. Thank you.