August 27, 2016
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Shingles and Pregnancy (cont.)

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What are the signs and symptoms of shingles?

The hallmark symptom of shingles is a painful, blistering rash. Pain from shingles may be severe in intensity. The pain, or a tingling sensation in some cases, may precede the development of the actual rash, making the cause of the pain hard to ascertain. Small blisters form on a red base, and new blisters continue to appear for 3 to 5 days. The rash follows the path of individual nerves, and typically presents in a band-like pattern on one side of the body. After the blisters rupture, they begin to crust over and heal. The entire outbreak from onset to healing takes about 3 to 4 weeks.

Fever, headache, chills, and nausea can sometimes accompany the painful skin rash.

How is shingles diagnosed?

The characteristic rash of shingles typically suggests the diagnosis, and in most cases, no specific diagnostic tests are required. In cases in which there is pain but no apparent rash, the diagnosis can be very difficult. Laboratory testing to detect the genetic material or surface proteins of the VZV can be used in atypical or difficult cases.

What is the treatment for shingles in pregnancy?

Treatment for shingles is generally prescription or over-the-counter antiviral, pain, and antihistamine medication.

Antiviral medication to treat shingles

The prescription antiviral medications typically used to treat shingles are safe to take during pregnancy. These drugs include acyclovir (Zovirax), valacyclovir (Valtrex), or famciclovir (Famvir). Antiviral medications can reduce the severity and duration of the rash if started early (within 72 hours of the appearance of the rash).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/4/2015


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