“Getting the opportunity to know on time what caused the rash on my mother’s back was a relief which meant we were able to take all the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the viral infection and also meant an unnecessary visit to the doctor’s surgery was avoided” – says a relative who had consulted with our private GP service.
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. The rash first appears as groups of red spots on a pink-red area on the skin, which quickly turns into small fluid-filled blisters. The area then slowly dries out, crusts and scabs form which later drop off over the next three weeks.
The virus would have remained inactive in the body for a long time after a past episode of chickenpox, but it reappears as shingles and more likely in elderly or in anybody undergoing a major stress or during an illness that causes reduced ability for the body to fight germs. This is reason shingles vaccine is now available with aim of reducing the incidence and severity of shingles in people aged 70 years and older. The UK Health Security Agency has produced a shingles vaccination leaflet that describes shingles and the benefits of vaccination for adults.
Get urgent advice from a doctor if you think you have shingles as you may need to have an antiviral medication. Avoid contact with people who have not had chickenpox, particularly pregnant women, new-born babies and people with reduced immunity.
You may need to take time off work or avoid attending school if the rash is weeping but you will be able to return to your daily activities once the rash has dried out and crusted over.