Herpes zoster reinfection, also known as shingles, is a viral infection caused by a reactivation of the chicken pox virus in the skin. It may occur many years after the patient had chicken pox, and typically starts as a burning pain or itch in one portion of skin. Over a few days it turns to a visible red rash with blisters and extreme skin sensitivity. This rash may last a few weeks and resolve without treatment, sometimes resulting in longstanding skin discomfort in the affected area.
In order to decrease one’s chances of this occurring, we strongly encourage patients to speak with their primary care physicians about the shingles vaccine, which is available to patients 60 and older. In addition, we encourage patients to undergo therapy with two different medications during the outbreak, in an attempt to decrease the residual pain after the rash has gone away. It is best to treat this rash immediately, within 48-72 hours of onset, so please contact your doctor if you suspect you may have shingles. It is also important to stay out of contact with others who have never had chickenpox, such as infants, as well as pregnant or immunosuppressed people to prevent them becoming affected.