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What’s Painful, Itchy, Burning, Scratchy and Preventable?

By Emil Borokhovich, RN, MSN, Family Nurse Practitioner, Manager of Olympia Plaza Pharmacy, Inc.


Have you ever had chickenpox? Some of you may have had it, and not remember. Following a chickenpox infection there is usually a lifelong protective immunity from further episodes of chickenpox.  However the dormant chickenpox virus (which stays in the body for the rest of our lives) can manifest itself later in life as a shingles. About 90% of all adults in America have had chickenpox, which means that potentially 90% of us are at risk for developing shingles.

What is Shingles?

Shingles is a very painful condition with potential serious consequences.  The early symptoms of shingles include headache, sensitivity to light, and fever, followed by itching, tingling and pain which may vary from mild to moderate to extreme in the affected areas.  This pain can be stinging, tingling, aching, burning, numbing, or throbbing and stabbing. Usually, a rash will develop which is characterized by hive-like lesions that turn into small fluid filled blisters. For most people, the pain associated with the rash lessens as it heals, but for some people, the pain can remain for months or even years after the rash healed. This is called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). The “nerve pain” from PHN can range from burning or throbbing to pain that is stabbing or shooting. For certain people suffering from PHN, even the lightest touch of clothing rub or even a slight breeze against the skin can be excruciatingly dolorous.

How do you get Shingles?

If you have had chickenpox, which most of us had as children, then you can possibly develop shingles. Individuals develop shingles for many different reasons, most of which are thought to be the result of events which suppress the immune system, such as aging, severe emotional stress, severe illness or are undergoing some kind of treatment that would diminish the adequate immune response (chemotherapy treatment for Cancer, for example).  However, there have been recorded cases of Shingles occurring due to the unmanaged stress of other damage to the skin such as pinching in more sensitive areas of the body (nipples, ears, and underarms), scratching, or biting.

How do you treat Shingles?

Currently, there is no cure available, nor a treatment to effectively eliminate the shingles virus permanently from the body. However, there are some anti-viral treatments (available by prescription) that can mitigate the length of the disease and alleviate certain side effects.

Prevention is still better than a Cure.

In 2006, the first shingles vaccine was approved for use in adults, age 60 years or older.  Recently FDA expanded recommendation to everyone over 50 years old with a second generation, safer and more effective Zostrix vaccine, using a recombinant DNA technology instead of the attenuated (weakened but still alive) virus that may have caused the disease in some rare instances. Studies show that vaccines are effective in either preventing shingles altogether or resulting in a much milder case for these who did develop shingles. The vaccines also reduced the instances of PHN by roughly 66%.

Fortunately, the staff of local Olympia Plaza Pharmacy is trained and specially licensed to administer this vaccine. This vaccine is a preventative measure that can be taken against the risk of developing shingles.

Please contact your healthcare provider or ask one of our Certified Immunization Specialists (a California Licensed Pharmacist or a Registered Nurse) at Olympia Plaza Pharmacy for more details and information about how getting vaccinated can benefit your health and the health of your loved ones. Olympia Plaza Pharmacy has been on a frontline in the fight against preventable infectious diseases since 2006 and was one of the pioneers of the movement to deploy Pharmacists as the professional force to deploy in the effort. We provide multitude of commercially available vaccinations: Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A&B, Typhoid, Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis, Polio, Tetanus/Diphtheria combo, Measles Mumps Rubella, Meningitis, Pneumonia, Flu, Chickenpox/Shingles, Gardasil (HPV-Cervical Cancer Vaccine), and many others. For a full list please inquire.

Background: Olympia Plaza Pharmacy is owned and operated by Emil and Tatiana Borokhovich in Miracle Mile neighborhood. We are Located at 5901 W. Olympic Blvd, Suite 103, Los Angeles, CA 90036 – on the ground floor of Olympia Medical Plaza. A state-of-the-art store is one of the most beautiful and modern independent pharmacy. Besides a traditional pharmacy department we offer a wide variety of gifts and novelties. A luxurious gift shop offers eclectic selection of items suitable for any taste and budget: from popular aromatherapy and candles lines to rare and exotic novelties, from cute kids products and PJ’s to sophisticated home décor and Premium tea selections. Come check it out for yourself. The additional services that most of us find useful are free delivery and automatic refills reminders help the patrons simplify their lives and expedite the process. We are proud to have this exceptional small business right here in our community.

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