Geriatric Medicine/shingles

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Question
Can you have a mild case of shingles on your arm and top of your foot?  It looks like chicken pox but only 4, very small blisters.  Two on foot that don't look like blisters yet, just red bumps.

Answer
Hi Victoria,

It is certainly possible to have a very mild case of Shingles. If you are within a 48 hour period of noticing it, your healthcare provider may be able to write a prescription for an anti-viral medication such as Valtrex which may lessen the symptoms or any discomfort you may feel as a result of the outbreak.

You don't state your age, if you've had Chicken Pox in the past, or if you have any chronic ongoing medical conditions.

You'll want to be careful not to scratch it so hard that the blisters break open because that is when it becomes contagious - through direct contact with body fluids. You'll want to keep the areas clean and dry. You may want to put a piece of gauze or a dry dressing on these areas depending upon whether or not they have crusted over yet.

If you can't get in to see your primary care, a walk in center should be able to help you. I'd suggest calling first.

Without knowing what, if any, medications you may be taking I'm hesitant to suggest that you take anything for the itching, if it is problematic for you. However, many people are able to take Benadryl with good results as long as they don't have any allergies to it. I've seen doctors order topical creams from Calomine lotion (used for Poison Ivy) to Capsacin (beats me what they were thinking; I thought it was used to relieve pain...).

If you are worried that this may happen again in the future, I'd suggest waiting 6 months to a year, literature varies, and getting the Shingles vaccine. Yes, you can still get the vaccine after you've had Shingles - just not during the outbreak, immediately after, or within the following 6 months. I'd suggest waiting the whole year. That's what I'd do but if your healthcare provider suggests differently, it's okay.

I hope you're feeling better soon!

Gayle

Geriatric Medicine

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Gayle Gwozdz

Expertise

My name is Gayle and I am an adult nurse practitioner (APRN)whose practice has focused on geriatrics in long term care facilities, evaluating and prescribing medications for medical and psychiatric conditions. I presently perform geriatric home assessments and physical exams in patients' homes. I can answer questions related to assisting adult children in keeping their parents at home, advising when a specialist should be consulted, advising if medications may be causing certain new problems that have arisen. Having cared for my dad with Alzheimer's for 14 years I am quite knowledgeable about what is normal and abnormal when it comes to this disease. I can help direct individuals to resources and support services that they may be unaware of. Lastly, I can make recommendations that can be brought back to the patient's doctor if he/she is willing to consider alternatives to the current treatment plan regarding a particular issue or medical problem.

Experience

I am an adult nurse practitioner with nearly 5 years experience in primary care, focusing on geriatric clients. I cared for my parents in the final 15 years of their lives interacting with healthcare providers, home nursing agencies, state agencies, Medicare and Medicaid representatives, palliative care and home hospice agencies. Prior to becoming an APRN I worked as an emergency dept. nurse for 15 years and 12 years for a large health insurance company providing medical reviews for underwriting, educating underwriters on medical conditions, utilization review and case management, requesting exceptions from medical directors to allow patients to receive medications or treatments not normally covered under their insurance plan, and I assisted in the area of reviewing complex medical claims for payment.

Organizations
CT APRN American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) Sigma Theta Tau International (SITT) AARP

Publications
"Walk A Corridor in My Shoes" published in November, 2004, Nursing Spectrum.

Education/Credentials
Associate Degree in Nursing from Greater Harford Community College BSN from CCSU MSN in Nursing Management from the University of Hartford MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute MSN with Adult APRN from Quinnipiac University Graduate Certificate in Geriatric Care Management from the University of Florida Reiki Master Legal Nurse Consultant

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