Shingles and Pregnancy
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.
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
- Shingles in pregnancy facts
- What is shingles?
- What do shingles look like?
- What are the signs and symptoms of shingles?
- How is shingles diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for shingles in pregnancy?
- Antiviral medication to treat shingles
- Pain medication to treat shingles
- Antihistamine medication to treat shingles
- What are the complications of shingles in pregnancy?
- What is the outlook (prognosis) for shingles in pregnancy?
- Can shingles in pregnancy be prevented?
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Shingles in pregnancy facts
- Shingles is a painful, blistering skin rash that results from reactivation of infection with the varicella zoster virus (VZV), the virus that causes chickenpox.
- The rash of shingles can be extremely painful and typically occurs over the area of one nerve.
- Antiviral medications are used to treat shingles. These drugs are safe to use in pregnancy.
- Other medications to manage shingles can include acetaminophen (Tylenol and others) for pain relief or antihistamines for itching.
- Complications from shingles occur most often in older adults and are less common in pregnant women.
- Shingles in pregnancy typically heals without long-term problems for mother or baby.
What is shingles?
Shingles is a painful skin rash caused by reactivation of prior infection with the same virus that previously caused chickenpox, known as varicella zoster virus (VZV). VZV belongs to the herpes family of viruses, but it is not the same virus that causes genital herpes or cold sores on the mouth. When a person is infected with VZV in childhood, they typically develop chickenpox, but after the illness resolves the VZV lives dormant in the nervous system and is never fully cleared from the body. Under certain circumstances, such as emotional stress, immune deficiency (from AIDS or chemotherapy), or with cancer, the virus reactivates and causes the skin and nerve inflammation known as shingles.
Shingles occurs most commonly in people over the age of 60, but anyone who has ever had chickenpox is at risk, including pregnant women. It has been estimated that up to 1,000,000 cases of shingles occur each year in the U.S.
What do shingles look like?
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