Richmond Practice - What is shingles?

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What is shingles?

By Dr Ursula Radloff – Private GP at +richmond practice

Shingles is a painful rash that often spreads like a belt around the torso or
legs/arms and sometimes appears on the face near the eyes. Shingles can be seriously dehabilitating. It is caused by the chickenpox virus and that can cause two different diseases: chickenpox and shingles... You cannot catch shingles if you have never had chickenpox or from someone else who has shingles, but you can strangely enough get chickenpox from someone who has shingles.

At least 90% of adults raised in the UK have been exposed to chickenpox in childhood and all these people are therefore at risk of developing shingles. When someone has had chickenpox, the virus remains in the body for life until triggered to reactivate as shingles. The triggers can be having a weak immune system, stress, trauma, UV radiation. Shingles is usually seen in people over 50, but it can also occur in young and healthy people.

How to avoid contracting singles
A shingles vaccine has been available for several years and it can prevent the onset of shingles and especially, the complication of chronic zoster pain.

Consult your doctor if:
The disease usually starts with fatique and burning pain in the corresponding skin area and itching might occur as well. A few days later the typical rash sets in – with redness and small blisters standing together in groups. It is best to react immediately as treatment needs to start within the first 72 hours – otherwise it won’t be effective.

It is also wise to ring your doctor if you are pregnant and have been in touch with someone who has shingles.

At +richmond practice we offer the shingles vaccine. If you are concerned that you contracted shingles or if you would like to be vaccinated call 020 8940 5009 or book an appointment.
 

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