Dr. Gerald Deas (26509)

When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., It seemed like everyone got that viral disease known as “chicken pox.” It was a welcome condition that allowed you to stay home from school and be relieved of the scratching that it caused.

Sometimes, the scratching was so intense that a solution known as calamine lotion was used to dab on the rash, cooling it down. In most cases, the rash left little scarring on the skin’s surface. However, in some cases, it could become disfiguring because of the scarring. At that time, there was no vaccine to prevent this condition and you just suffered, using homespun healing.

Chicken pox is caused by a virus that causes the condition known as herpes zoster (shingles). The virus, namely varicella-zoster, hides away in the nerve roots of the nervous system. When the immune system, which is the protective core of the body, is put under stress and cannot fight viral or other diseases, the varicella-zoster virus is activated and presents itself as a small rash associated with neuralgia (nerve pain), which can be extremely severe. Most patients experience severe muscle pains and fever. After the rash subsides, it leaves in its trail unrelenting pain, which often cause patients to seek help from their physicians.

In my experience, I have often seen this painful rash occur on many parts of the body where the virus infection was evident. Many times, this elusive virus causes unnecessary operations when it occurs in the area where appendicitis is thought to be the cause, the rash appearing only after surgery the rash appearing and a normal appendix is evident.

To relieve some of the pain, cool soaks made with over-the-counter Burrow’s solution bought at your local pharmacy may be applied to the rash. Your physician may also treat this condition with a drug, valacyclovir at 500 mgs, three times daily for seven days. This treatment will slow or prevent the development of new lesions.

Further pain medication, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or aspirin with codeine or oxycodone, may help in giving relief of pain. Chronic pain may persist, requiring other pain medications, such as Motrin or Aleve. It has been reported that the ointment Zostrix, prescribed by your physician, can be rubbed over the area and help relieve the discomfort. However, be careful to avoid eye contact when using this product and wash your hands after use.

Your physician should always be advised of any over-the-counter drugs you may be using because they may interfere with other medications. Just remember, a rash associated with pain may be caused by the virus herpes zoster and should be evaluated by your physician because it may be a revisit of this virus.