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What is the cause for itchy painful blisters on the back?

Q: I am 35 years old and have developed a rash with red blisters on my back on the left side of the spine. This has been there for 2-3 days and I have been putting Calamine lotion. The blisters have white tips. It is quite itchy and sometimes there is pain too. Is this acne or shingles? If it is shingles then what should I do?

A:In herpes zoster, the classical lesions are grouped vesicles (small blisters) on red base, arranged in a row. Atypical cases do occur. Pain is the usual symptom and can be troublesome. It may persist as neuralgia even after healing of skin lesions. To minimize its severity and incidence, the antiviral therapy should be started within the first 48 hours, or at the most within 72 hours. Topical antibiotics should be applied to prevent secondary infection by bacteria. This is something you can do without supervision. You may also take analgesics like paracetamol and something like avil for itching. Contacts of herpes zoster patient who have never had chickenpox, can develop it if they have not been immunized. The patient is infective till the last lesion has dried up.

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