Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Shingles facts
- What is shingles? What causes shingles?
- What are shingles symptoms and signs? How long does shingles last?
- How long is shingles contagious?
- How is shingles diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for shingles? Should I visit my health care professional?
- What are the complications of shingles?
- What is postherpetic neuralgia?
- Can shingles be prevented with a vaccine?
- What are potential side effects of the shingles vaccine?
- Is shingles dangerous in pregnant women?
- Test Your IQ: Take the Shingles Quiz
- Pictures of Shingles - Slideshow
- Pictures of Shingles
- Shingles (Herpes Zoster) FAQs
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
How is shingles diagnosed?
The clinical appearance of shingles, with characteristic painful blisters localized to the region of a specific nerve, is usually sufficient to establish the diagnosis. No diagnostic tests are usually required. However, particularly in people with impaired immune function, shingles may sometimes not display the characteristic clinical pattern. In these cases, samples from the affected area may be tested in a laboratory, either by culturing the tissue for growth of the virus or by identifying the genetic material of the virus.
What is the treatment for shingles? Should I visit my health care professional?
There are several effective treatments for shingles. Drugs that fight viruses (antivirals), such as acyclovir (Zovirax), valacyclovir (Valtrex), or famciclovir (Famvir), can reduce the severity and duration of the rash if started early (within 72 hours of the appearance of the rash). In addition to antiviral medications, pain medications may be needed for symptom control. Both nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications and narcotic pain-control medications may be used for pain management in shingles.
The affected area should be kept clean. Bathing is permitted, and the area can be cleansed with soap and water. Cool compresses and anti-itching lotions, such as calamine lotion, may also provide relief. An aluminum acetate solution (Burow's or Domeboro solution, available at your pharmacy) can be used to help dry up the blisters and oozing.
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