Tracey is at the grocery store when she starts noticing that her left forehead is hurting. It feels like it is tingling and burning.
By the time she gets home, the pain is worse. She looks in the mirror and sees a rash on her forehead and around her eye.
Tracey feels tired and goes to bed early. She wakes up during the night and feels like she has a headache and fever, so she takes an Advil and goes back to sleep.
The next morning, Tracey looks in the mirror and the rash appears much worse:
What is Tracey’s diagnosis?
- She is having an allergic reaction
- She has had a spider bite
- She has shingles
- She has gotten the measles
If you chose shingles, you are right!
Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a painful rash that is caused by a virus. It occurs along a single nerve distribution either on the body or the face. Shingles can cause serious complications if it affects the eye, such as in Tracey’s case.
Shingles is actually a re-activation of the chickenpox virus. When a patient has had chickenpox as a child, the virus remains in the nerve cells, then can re-activate many years later and migrate down the nerve, causing the shingles rash.
There is a vaccination to prevent the shingles, which is recommended for adults 50 and older.
If a patient gets shingles, there is anti-viral medication that they can take, but it important that the medication be started within the first three days of symptoms.