Shingles is a common affliction. Oftentimes, people over the age of 60 will experience it, but those with weakened immune systems are at risk as well. If you have had the chicken pox, you are also a candidate. Anyone will tell you that shingles is painful, unsightly, and miserable. Adding to the unfortunate experience, however, is the confusion surrounding it. Is it shingles? Is it psoriasis? What’s the difference, anyway?
Psoriasis: Patches of Peeling
Psoriasis is an ongoing autoimmune disorder that causes the skin cells to reproduce too quickly. It is not contagious, and it affects both sides of the body. It creates flat, dry, flaky patches of damaged skin. The flaky scales are white or silver in color, and affected skin is pink in color. It is not dry scalp, dandruff, or a case of poor hygiene. Affected areas can appear anywhere, without a distinct pattern, including under the fingernails, and lesions have no distinct shape. Furthermore, psoriasis pain is often mild and localized at the site of the lesion.
Psoriasis patients must treat the condition for the rest of their lives via a number of creams, liquids, shampoos, or injections.
Shingles: Clusters of Blisters
Shingles, on the other hand, is strikingly different. When patients have chicken pox, some of the virus cells lie dormant along the nerves for years. Stress, age, or other factors can reactivate the cells, leading to a shingles outbreak. You can give shingles to those who have not yet gotten chicken pox. When the shingles lesions occur, they do so on one side of the body, and the rash locations form a distinct band or arch shape. The patient may initially find isolated spots of irritation, but these spots soon turn into clusters of firm blisters, each covered in a dark red crust. The burning, stinging pain feels bone-deep, and can be mild to severe. The pain can even travel elsewhere, to other branches of the nerve fiber. Shingles does not occur underneath the fingernails. Shingles patients may also feel like they have the flu. Surprisingly, some patients do not get a rash at all.
Patients must see a doctor within three days of the outbreak in order to receive an injection to shorten the duration of the illness. Other patients may receive pain killers or home care advice. Patients with shingles on the face must seek treatment immediately to avoid damaging the optic nerve. Shingles resolves on its own in a few weeks. Most patients who get shingles do not get it again.
While commonly unfortunate, psoriasis and shingles are distinct afflictions. A little knowledge reveals two conditions that contrast each other greatly. The sooner you know what’s going on, the sooner you can get treatment and get back to your healthy, happy life.