Shingles is a reactivation of the virus that causes chicken pox. It causes a painful rash, and you should contact an online GP if you think you have shingles. Shingles often starts with a feeling of tingling or pain over a specific area of skin. You may then develop a headache or feel unwell. Usually it will take a few days for the rash to appear. The shingles rash usually appears on your chest or abdomen (tummy) but can occur anywhere, including your face. It usually occurs in a patch that does not cross the midline of your body and looks like small blisters full of fluid.
As soon as you think you have shingles contact an online GP or a private doctor as shingles treatment works best if started within 3 days. The treatment for shingles does not “cure” it but can help your body to heal more quickly and reduce the risk of complications. These medications are usually antiviral treatments such as aciclovir or valaciclovir. tapGP is an online GP service that can discuss your symptoms with you and provide a prescription for antiviral treatment if this is appropriate.
Taking pain relief such as paracetamol can help the pain from the rash. It is important to keep the rash clean and dry as this can reduce the chance of your skin becoming infected. It may help to wear loose clothes or use a cold pack on the rash a few times per day. It is important not to put sticky plasters or dressings over the rash or try to use antibiotic creams. This will slow the healing process down. It might take up to a month for the rash to resolve and your skin might still be painful even after the rash disappears. You can’t spread shingles to other people, but people can catch chicken pox from you if they have not had it before. It is important to avoid pregnant women who haven’t had chicken pox, people who are having chemotherapy or have medical conditions that affect their immune system or babies less than a month old. It is important to stay home from school or work if the rash is oozing fluid or until the rash has dried. Once the rash has dried out you are no longer infectious.
As tapGP is an online GP, they can offer private GP appointments that are convenient for you to fit into your schedule, wherever you are. You don’t have to deregister with your own GP to see a doctor at tapGP. TapGP allows you to see a private doctor through the online GP service if the waiting times are too long or you are unable to see your own GP. tapGP can work together with your own GP to make sure you have access to healthcare, advice and treatment when you need it.