Shingles is caused by reactivation of the chicken pox virus, which lies dormant in anyone who has had chicken pox. It begins with pain or tingling in an area of skin on one side of your body or face, followed by a rash of small, fluid-filled blisters. You may also have a headache and fever. The blisters scab over and heal within a few weeks, but the area may be painful for months afterward. Shingles is more common in later life. Stress, ill health, or sunlight can trigger an attack, but you can’t catch shingles from contact with chicken pox.

Shingles rash

See your doctor first
Arrange to see your doctor to confirm that you have shingles. See your doctor urgently if shingles has developed close to an eye.

DRUG REMEDIES Analgesics will relieve fever as well as pain. Use acetaminophen (see p.177), aspirin (see p.179), or ibuprofen (see p.185). Ask your pharmacist for advice on which product to use.

What you can do yourself
Use these home treatments to make yourself feel better while you get over an attack of shingles.

NATURAL REMEDIES Baking soda (see p.179) can also help reduce itching. Add 4 tablespoons (about one cup) to a bath two-thirds full. Oatmeal products (see p.187) are soothing for itchy, blistered skin. Add oatmeal oil to your bath or use the lotion instead of soap.

Rest as much as you can to speed your recovery. While you have a fever, drink plenty of fluids.

G Take an analgesic to relieve pain, headache, and fever (see DRUG REMEDIES, right). A cold compress (a cloth soaked in ice-cold water) may help relieve pain and tingling in your skin. G If you have blisters on your body, take lukewarm baths 2–3 times a day. Add baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) or use an oatmeal product (see NATURAL REMEDIES, right) to soothe your skin. Wash any blisters on your face gently with soap and water. G Until all the blisters are dry, avoid skin-to-skin contact with anyone who has not had chicken pox, because they could catch the virus from you.

PREVENTION Preventing attacks If you are susceptible to shingles, try the following measures:
G If you are prone to stress (a trigger for an attack of shingles), try using deep breathing exercises and muscle relaxation techniques to help you relax (see PRACTICAL TECHNIQUES, pp.20–21). G Be careful to protect your skin from strong sunlight (see PREVENTION: SAFETY IN THE SUN, p.47).

Seek further medical advice
Arrange to see your doctor again if: Your blisters become pus-filled and spread You develop severe headaches or vomiting G Analgesics do not control the pain, or pain persists after the blisters have cleared

Your child can then return to school or day care. but impetigo tends to develop when there are minor cuts or scrapes that allow the bacteria to get under the skin. impetigo is highly contagious and is spread by touch.34 COMMON CONDITIONS SKIN. Seek further medical advice Arrange to see your doctor again if: The sores spread or enlarge The impetigo rash has not begun to clear within a few days G Your child develops a fever or starts to pass red. Red. do this before you apply the ointment. Do not stop as soon as the impetigo appears to be better. G G If your doctor prescribes an antibiotic drug or cream. Caused by bacterial infection. Pat the skin dry with a towel. G TECHNIQUE. Repeat this several times a day. HAIR. Impetigo sores See your doctor first Make an appointment to see your doctor to confirm impetigo. honeycolored crust. the sores then blister and burst. PRACTICAL TECHNIQUE Washing infected areas Use the following procedure to soften and remove crusts and help the skin heal. AND NAIL PROBLEMS Impetigo Impetigo is a common skin infection that mainly affects children. being careful not to rub the rash. drying them properly each time. especially around the nose and mouth. Hold it over the skin for 1–2 minutes. G Keep your child away from other children until there is no longer any crusting over the sores. It can appear anywhere on the body but most often develops on the face. weepy sores develop. Change them daily and wash them in very hot water.or brown-colored urine G G Remind your child not to touch or pick the scabs or suck his or her fingers. They will heal better if you leave them exposed to the air. and dry out to form an itchy. G What you can do yourself Impetigo usually clears up promptly with antibiotic treatment. make sure you give your child the complete course. The doctor will probably prescribe antibiotics. (If you are using an antibiotic ointment. but the following measures will speed recovery and reduce the risk of the sores spreading. The bacteria are present in small numbers on healthy skin. washing your hands afterward. G Do not cover the blisters. Encourage your child to wash his or her hands frequently.) Soak the affected area by applying a clean washcloth soaked in warm water. . G Make sure your child has towels and washcloths for his or her own use. Trim his or her nails to help prevent scratching. Wash the affected area carefully (see PRACTICAL right).