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Guarding Against the Shingles

<P>The experts are encouraging older patients to consider getting the shingles vaccine, heading off what can be a painful and even life threatening condition.</P>

JOPLIN, MO-- "Shingles is a rash that occurs later in life, after people have had chicken pox. And it is stored in the body in the nerves so later in life the more likely to have this reoccurrence. We really don't know what causes that." Dr. John Paulson adds it usually starts with pain or itching in the skin that later develops into a rash. "It's unique because it's usually on one side of your body. And it follows the nerve distribution of the dermatome. So the most classic case of shingles is the person who gets a stripe like rash along their ribs or abdomen area. Or it can be on your face, eye, forehead."

Shingles is contagious. While it won't give another patient another case of the shingles, it can pass on chicken pox. Early treatment is the key, especially in the first 72 hours. "The sooner we catch them, the more effective the treatment. So at the first sign of rash, you need to call your doctor and get in as soon as possible." Paulson says anti virals are effective at shortening what can last weeks, months or even years... and in some case, can prove life threatening. He recommends the shingles vaccine for most patients 60 and older.

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