K Patel, MD, MPH | My Health One Place
Shelly woke up in the morning and received a phone call from her sister. It was bad news. Her sister revealed the fact that she was dying of brain cancer. Shelly’s heart broke listening to this. With tears pouring, Shelly was overwhelmed with emotions.
Over the next couple of days, Shelly noticed some skin irritation over left lower back area. She ignored it initially, but then the irritation turned in to burning and sharp pain. The area became very sensitive to touch and she noticed some redness and blisters as she looked in the mirror.
She decided to get further evaluation at her doctor’s office. Upon evaluation she had redness and fluid filled blisters over the left lower back area. She had chicken pox when she was young. She had classic findings of Shingles and was treated with valacyclovir (antiviral medication). She was advised to use gabapentin for severe nerve pain and calamine lotion for skin irritation as needed. She responded well and rash resolved within 2 weeks.
Those who have history of chicken pox in the past are at risk of having Shingles in future as the virus remains dormant in the nervous system and may activate to cause Shingles. Even though healthy people can get Shingles, those who have weak immune system like cancer patients, HIV patients, elderly population are at higher risk. Other situations like stress, infection of any kind may weaken the immune system and precipitate Shingles.
Good news is that now we have vaccine called Shingrix to prevent Shingles. It is available for those who are 50 years and above. It is a two-shot series. You get first shot and second shot is due two to six months after the first shot.
Note: inspired from true patient encounters from clinical practice for educational purpose only. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or re-distributed. This material is informational and does not provide any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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