Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

Serving Hamilton, Stoney Creek, Grimsby and surrounding areas

Shingles:

  • Is a painful or itchy rash that usually occurs on one side of the body
  • Is caused be the Chicken Pox virus (Varicella Zoster Virus)
  • After a person has chicken pox, the virus remains in the body forever
    • Sometimes the virus ‘wakes up’ and begins to multiply in the nerves and skin, and causes the rash known as shingles
  • Shingles is only contagious to people who have NEVER HAD chicken pox
    • The virus is spread from fluid in the open sores
    • If the area is covered, the risk of spreading it to someone is very low
  • You should avoid contact with newborn babies, and people with very weak immune systems (chemotherapy or AIDS patients) until the sores have healed
  • The sores will heal in 1 to 3 weeks
  • The pain can sometimes persist for months or years afterward

Treatment:

  • A variety of creams and pills are available
  • Please discuss your treatment options with your doctor
  • If there is a lot of crusting or oozing compresses may be used twice daily
    • To do a compress, mix 1 teaspoon of salt into 2 cups of lukewarm water
    • Soak a soft cloth in the solution, wring it out, and apply the wet cloth to the affected area
    • Leave the cloth on the area for 1 minute and then remove it for 1 minute
    • Re-soak the cloth in the salt solution again and apply in the same way to the skin for 1 minute
    • Continue this for about 10 minutes