Doctors say shingles often break out during stress

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The holidays have left some people with more than happy memories and a pile of bills. The stress has left some people with a case of painful shingles.

"The pain feels very much like you stuck a hot curling iron to your skin," said Bonnie Baeza, who has shingles.

The pain comes first, then these red, blisters break out. They sent Bonnie to the emergency room.

"They're following the nerve all right," said Research Dermatologist, Dr. Stephen Tyring.

The emergency room doctor sent her to Dr. Tyring, who has done years of research on shingles. Shingles isn't a skin disease, it's a nerve disorder.

"The root of the nerve is where the virus has been hiding ever since you had chickenpox as a child," said Dr. Tyring.

One in five people, who have chicken pox, will eventually develop painful shingles.

To show you how excruciating the pain can be, Shingles has actually been mistaken for a heart attack when it began in the left chest before the blisters broke out. It's also been mistaken for gallstones and kidney stones, and in one case a brain aneurism.

Bonnie was given Valtrex. And if she's lucky, the pain will stop. Another drug that works against shingles is Famvir.

"The sooner you start the medicine, the faster the nerve damage will start reversing and the pain hopefully will go away," said Dr. Tyring.

Shingles often break out during the holidays, because of the stress.

"Stress is very much a factor," said Bonnie.

More people are getting shingles. A vaccine for shingles became available last summer for people over 60. It's similar to the chicken pox vaccine given to toddlers.

"Shingles is an infection of the nerve," said Dr. Tyring. "This is the virus that's been sitting in a nerve root in the spinal cord since childhood."

If you have pain in one side of your body and you can't explain it, consider the possibility you have shingles. It can take weeks for the blisters to follow which are easy to identify. But the faster you get treatment, the less likely you are to suffer permanent nerve damage, and permanent pain.

"I would hate for anyone to suffer this," said Bonnie.

Because of his studies, Dr. Tyring can provide shingles medications which can cost $250 per prescription, at no charge. For more information on shingles go to The Center for Clinical Studies.
(Copyright © 2007, KTRK-TV)

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