Skin is your body’s largest organ. And, sometimes, it can be the most troublesome. Dry, itchy skin can make you feel like scratching, and rashes or painful sores can be beyond uncomfortable.

Understanding Eczema, Impetigo, and Shingles

Skin is your body’s largest organ. And, sometimes, it can be the most troublesome. Dry, itchy skin can make you feel like scratching, and rashes or painful sores can be beyond uncomfortable. 

At MedExpress, we understand that sometimes an annoying itch can’t wait for an appointment. That’s why we have convenient hours to help you stop the scratching and get your skin healing sooner.

There are a number of skin conditions that can cause dry, painful, itchy skin, and rashes or sores. Some common conditions we treat include eczema, impetigo, and shingles. 

Symptoms of Eczema

  • Itchy skin.
  • Dry red areas.
  • Red to brownish-grey patches on the skin.
  • Small, raised bumps that can leak fluid and crust when scratched.
  • Raw, sensitive, swollen skin – mostly from scratching.

Diagnosing Eczema

Our medical team will check your skin, ask about your medical history, and will want to know about any family history of eczema, allergies, hay fever, or asthma. 

Treating Eczema

For mild eczema, treatment consists of:

  • Washing with mild soap and using moisturizer to keep your skin from drying out.
  • Avoiding long, hot showers or baths, which dries out skin.
  • Managing your stress.
  • Using a humidifier to keep air moist.

For more severe eczema, treatment consists of a variety of therapies:

  • Antihistamines
  • Prescription corticosteroid cream
  • Systemic corticosteroids

What is Impetigo?

Impetigo is a contagious infection that is caused by one of two kinds of bacteria: strep (streptococcus) or staph (staphylococcus). It creates red sores that can break open, which then get a yellow-brown crust. The sores are not painful, but they can be itchy.

Although impetigo is one of the most common skin infections in children, adults can contract the ailment since skin sores are often prone to bacterial infection. 

Symptoms of Impetigo

  • Small red spots that change to blisters.
  • Commonly found around the nose, mouth, hands, and forearms (and diaper areas for infants and toddlers).
  • Blisters break open and leak fluid and/or looked crusted.
  • Sores that get bigger and spread.

Diagnosing Impetigo

Our medical team will diagnose impetigo by examining your skin and taking a thorough medical history. Sometimes, a culture may be taken by swabbing a  sore which will be sent to a lab to test for the bacteria that caused the condition.

Treating Impetigo

Since it is bacteria-based, impetigo is treated with antibiotics. You’ll use either a prescription topical cream or pills/liquid to take internally. 

Children can usually return to school 24 hours after treatment has begun. 

At home, you can ease the symptoms of impetigo by:

  • Gently washing the sores with soap and water and patting dry.
  • Not scratching the sores.

After applying cream or washing the rash, be sure to always thoroughly wash your hands to prevent the sores from spreading.

What is Shingles?

Shingles (herpes zoster) is a viral infection that causes a painful rash, which most commonly appears on your torso as a strip of blisters that will extend around your right or left sides. However, the rash can happen anywhere on the body. 

Anyone who has had chicken pox can get shingles, since it is caused by the same virus – varicella-zoster. After you’ve had chicken pox, this virus lies dormant in your body until a potential trigger, such as stress or certain medication, reactivates the virus. In many instances, it is unknown what causes the varicella-zoster virus to reactivate. 

You can’t catch shingles from someone who has shingles. However, if you have shingles, you can infect someone who has never had chicken pox (or the chicken pox vaccine) with the varicella-zoster virus. 

Shingles is most common in adults and with those who have weakened immune systems. 

Symptoms of Shingles

  • Pain, burning, or numbness (usually the first symptoms).
  • Usually only one side of the body is affected.
  • A red, itchy rash that begins a few days after the pain. 
  • Rash becomes fluid-filled blisters that can break open and crust over. 

Diagnosing Shingles

Your MedExpress medical team can diagnose shingles based on a thorough medical history and physical exam. The symptoms of shingles, especially the rash on one side, are distinctive enough that providers usually do not need to perform laboratory tests to diagnose the cause. 

Treating Shingles

Shingles can be treated through a combination of medication and home care. Prescription antiviral medications can help the rash heal sooner and reduce the chance of developing chronic pain (post-herpetic neuralgia). In addition, if you have shingles, you can lessen the discomfort by taking over-the-counter pain relievers. 

While you’re healing, try to:

  • Avoid scratching the rash.
  • Use cool, moist compresses on the blisters.
  • Apply baking soda to the sores to help them dry and heal faster.