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Shingles at 38..worried.
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Shingles at 38..worried.

Hi, and thank you for taking the time to read my post. I am a 38 year old woman. I was diagnosed this week with shingles ( I had chicken pox as a child, and mono at 18). My shingles are located on my right side mid trunk from spine to rib cage. They are what I would call mild (meaning not many), though I do have 4 well defined ones that look like large mosquito bites, on my spine. I am not experiencing much pain, it comes and goes and is the stabby kind. I did see my dr who said its definitely shingles and prescribed Valtrex.
My question is why shingles at 38? I have been married and monogamous for 13 years. My husband recently had an HIV test for insurance purposes and is negative. I had an HIV test that was neg. before we were married. I have an autistic son and am always under a lot of stress, but have been for some time (years now) and never got shingles before.
I do have terrible eczema over what I would call about 80 % of my skins surface. My derm suggested tanning bed, since the eczema is so wide spread. I dont want to do that, so I scratch CONSTANTLY. My skin often cracks and bleeds or bruises from all the scratching. Could a so called "injury" like this cause a shingles outbreak? Or should I be more concerned that this is caused by underlying disease, such as lymphoma ( I lost my maternal grandmother to non-hodgkins at 70). Also, I have been using elcon on and off to control the eczema and did recieve a cortizone shot earlier this year for a lung infection. The only other meds I take are propranolol for an accessory pathway, and HCTZ for BP. Please advise if you think further immune testing is wise. Thanks!
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"Shingles" (from the Latin word for girdle) is officially herpes zoster.  This is the same virus that causes chickenpox, and has nothing whatsoever to do with STD's.  It is, in fact, a reactivation of chickenpox virus that's been latent in your spinal column since you had the disease, most likely as a child.  What makes it reactivate?  Who knows?  But it happens in perfectly healthy people, many far younger than you (even children, sometimes.)  It is not necessary to suspect underlying immune disease if there's nothing else to suggest it.

Likewise, your eczema has nothing to do with shingles.  I'd follow your doctor's instructions on that.

Best news: you just get shingles (zoster) once, at least in the place you have it.  Rarely, the virus has been hiding in a different nerve root somewhere else in the spine and may appear sometime later in life.  That's very rare, and not in the least anything to worry about.

Take care.

Dr. Rockoff
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I just wanted to let you know that I had the shingles when I was in the 6th grade.  It was horribly painful and I was out of school for 6 weeks.  

Be careful about having the effected area in the sun.  I believe it was about 5 years after I had them I was outside in a bathing suit and got a little burnt.  The next day my scared hurt so bad it was like I had the shingles again.  The area was swollen and exetremly sensitive to touch.
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