Roughly one in three people experiences shingles during their lifetime. Shingles is caused by the same virus as chickenpox: the varicella-zoster virus. Chickenpox is generally milder and affects children, while shingles in adults may cause a large, blistering rash and ongoing nerve pain.
If you’ve ever had chickenpox, the virus remains in your nerve cells forever. It can reactivate years later in the form of shingles. But having had chickenpox doesn’t guarantee you’ll get shingles.
Shingles isn’t contagious or life-threatening, but it’s often very painful. It causes oozing blisters on your skin. The patches can develop anywhere on your body, and they may cause intense pain that makes daily life challenging.
At Ohio Pain Clinic, you can find relief from shingles pain and a complication known as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). Amol Soin, MD and our team offer a range of treatments to relieve lingering PHN pain and help you live more comfortably.
Characteristics of shingles pain
The varicella-zoster virus lies dormant in your nerve cells after you have chickenpox. If it reactivates, the virus travels through a nerve path in your body. Common descriptions of shingles symptoms include sensitivity to touch, itching, and nerve pain.
Cases of shingles often begin with a strange, tingling sensation in your skin. Then, oozing blisters develop. You can transmit the virus to people who haven’t had chickenpox at this stage if they come in contact with the blisters.
Once the blisters crust over, others can’t get the virus. People who have had chickenpox can’t catch the virus from others, because it’s already in their bodies.
The blistering patches characteristic of shingles usually appear on one side of your torso, wrapping around your waist. In rare cases, the rash may develop on one side of your face. Pain and blistering may last for several weeks.
Over-the-counter medications are generally ineffective for shingles. Depending on the severity of your condition, steroid or antidepressant medication can help manage symptoms until the blisters clear up.
Treatment for lingering shingles pain
Most cases of shingles clear up within a month or so. After you have shingles, it’s unlikely that you’ll get it again. But as we mentioned above, some people develop PHN, a complication that follows shingles. Older people, women, and those who had more severe shingles symptoms seem to be at higher risk of developing PHN, but it’s not clear why others never develop it.
Nerve blocks are injections containing local anesthetic to numb nerves contributing to PHN pain. Other minimally invasive treatments include nerve ablation and steroid injections to treat inflammation related to shingles.
We offer several nonaddictive prescription medications for nerve pain. Oral antidepressants or membrane stabilizers can reduce symptoms of PHN. For some people, topical medication like capsaicin cream can temporarily relieve pain.
You don’t have to turn to addictive opioid pain medications if you have shingles pain. Dr. Soin and our team are here to help you find relief with a personalized treatment plan, whether it’s nerve-blocking injections or medication.
If you still have nerve pain after shingles, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Call one of our offices in Centerville or Beavercreek, Ohio, or book an appointment online to learn more about the PHN treatment that could be right for you.