Case scenario

Mr Ho, 67 years, asks you for treatment for an itchy rash on his back. He reports that it started yesterday, has a burning sensation and is very painful, despite his use of paracetamol. You elicit that the area was also painful before the rash appeared. After looking at the rash, you note the presence of fluid-filled vesicles in a roughly linear distribution on the right side of his back. You refer Mr Ho to his GP as you suspect he may have shingles.

Learning objectives

After successful completion of this CPD activity, pharmacists should be able to:

  • Describe the symptoms of shingles (herpes zoster)
  • Discuss the management options for shingles (herpes zoster)
  • Recognise the complications of shingles (herpes zoster).

Competency standards (2016) addressed: 1.1, 1.4, 1.5, 2.2, 3.1, 3.5

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Introduction

Shingles is the common name for herpes zoster: a re-activation of latent varicella zoster virus (VZV) in someone who has already had primary VZV infection (i.e. chickenpox).1,2 The symptoms and complications of shingles can be severe and debilitating, requiring both pharmacological and non-pharmacological measures.

Pharmacists have an important role in ensuring effective shingles treatment and supporting patients to implement management plans.

Shingles in Australia

Epidemiology

In Australia, most adults will likely ha

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