Dear Dr. Roach: I was diagnosed with shingles after a few days of a painful rash. The doctor recommended acyclovir, gabapentin and prednisone. Do these really help? — M.F.
Answer: Shingles is when the chickenpox virus reappears in a specific area of the body, such as in a beltlike distribution on the torso. In fact, the word “shingles” comes from “cingulatum,” the Latin word for “belt.” But it can appear on any area of the body.
Shingles damages the nerves, and is usually painful, with a degree of pain that can range from mild to excruciating. Some people have intense itching in addition to or instead of pain.