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Herpes zoster - usually prescribed in pill form in doses...

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Herpes zoster Diagnosis Diagnosis of Herpes Zoster is normally straight forward and based on the clinical picture of the patient, including their history, the description of their pain and typical appearance and distribution of the herpetic rash. Tests are rarely needed, but may include taking a skin sample to see if the skin is infected with the virus that causes shingles. Blood tests may show an increase in white blood cells and antibodies to the chickenpox virus but cannot confirm that the rash is due to Herpes Zoster. When the rash is absent (early or late in the disease, or in the case of zoster sine herpete), herpes zoster can be difficult to diagnose. Apart from the rash, most symptoms can occur also in other conditions. Treatment The aims of treatment are to limit the severity and duration of pain, shorten the duration of a shingles episode, and reduce complications. For antiviral therapy to be effective it needs to be initiated with 24-72 hours of feeling pain or burning, and preferably before the blisters appear. Acyclovir, an anti-viral agent, is
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Unformatted text preview: usually prescribed in pill form, in doses many times greater than those recommended for herpes simplex infections. Complications such as post-herpetic neuralgia may be reduced by prompt use of antiviral agents. People with mild to moderate pain can be treated with over-the-counter analgesics. Topical lotions containing calamine can be used on the rash or blisters and may be soothing. Occasionally, severe pain may require an opioid medication, such as codeine or morphine. Orally administered corticosteroids are frequently used in treatment of the infection to help reduce inflammation and pain in the acute phase. There is however a risk of immunosuppression causing a generalised spread of herpes zoster. Once the acute phase is resolved and the vesicles begin to blister corticosteroids should be stopped. Local anaesthetic blocks with Lidocaine may be used in some cases where pain is excruciating and causing distress....
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