Shingles and Pregnancy (cont.)
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.
In this Article
- 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?
- Find a local Doctor in your town
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).
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