Shingles and what causes them

Lawrence Kagan, MD, explains what causes the shingles virus in people and how to best treat shingles
Causes Of Shingles And How To Treat Them
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Shingles and what causes them

Chicken pox is a very unique virus, in that, once we've had infection or had the vaccination, we actually harbor the virus inside of our body. It remains latent or silent inside of our body and our immune system keeps it at bay. When we undergo, for any reason, a suppression of our immune system; whether it be a bad viral infection, whether that be because we have exhausted our body training for a marathon, whether we are getting older, passed 65 years of age and our immune system wains, for any reason. That virus which is hanging out inside of a nerve can reactivate. When it re-emerges, it's going to follow the course of that nerve to the skin in what we call a dermatomal pattern. You will have a new outbreak of a rash in a pattern that is consistent with the intervation of one single nerve fiber. You have great pain and you have rash from shingles. Shingles can be avoided by taking a booster vaccine later in life, but unfortunately some people will go on with shingles to develop a complication called, post repetic neuralgia where they will actually sensation changes in that region of their body, wherever they had this reaction of the chicken pox virus. It can cause fairly debilitating pain in the long term, so shingles is not a great thing to have.

Lawrence Kagan, MD, explains what causes the shingles virus in people and how to best treat shingles


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Lawrence Kagan, MD


Lawrence Kagan, MD, FAAP, is a UCLA honors graduate, with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. He received medical training at USC Keck School of Medicine, and completed his internship and residency in Pediatrics at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. In addition to passionately studying neonatal, general pediatric and adolescent medicine at CHLA, he had the opportunity to train under some of the greatest minds in subspecialty pediatrics, diagnosing and managing the rarest and most complicated childhood ailments. Prior to opening Westside Pediatrics, he worked as an attending physician at the CHLA Emergency Department as well as at Cedars Sinai Urgent Care. Dr. Kagan is a native of Los Angeles and is happily married with two children.

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