People experiencing shingles symptoms may need support in selecting the right medical professional. Choosing the most suitable doctor will typically depend on the symptoms and complications a person is experiencing.
Shingles is a painful condition that results from the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). This is the same virus that causes chickenpox.
People with shingles often develop a blistering rash that lasts for around 7–10 days, with most cases of shingles lasting for roughly 3–5 weeks.
The risk of developing shingles
There are many treatment options available for shingles, such as
This article discusses the different types of shingles specialists.
There are many different types of doctors, and they vary widely in their specialty areas and levels of training.
In many cases, a primary care physician — such as a family doctor — can manage shingles care. However, some people who have shingles may develop complications that require more specialized attention. A primary care doctor will often provide referrals to specialty physicians when necessary.
Contacting the right shingles specialist can help improve recovery time and reduce the risk of long-term complications.
The sections below look at different types of doctors and discuss how they can help with shingles.
Doctors of Medicine
Doctors of Medicine (MDs) possess a traditional medicine degree and practice an
An MD can conduct an examination to diagnose shingles. Some common symptoms these professionals look for include:
- a headache
- a sore throat
- a red and blistering rash
If an MD suspects that someone has shingles, they will conduct a test for VZV. This test can include drawing blood or swabbing a blister to collect a fluid sample. When these tests come back positive for VZV, the MD can recommend a course of treatment.
For individuals over the age of 50 years, MDs can also administer a vaccine against shingles. The Shingrix vaccine can prevent shingles and PHN with over
Learn more about the shingles vaccine here.
Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine
A Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) focuses on medicine geared to treat the whole person. A DO emphasizes the importance of preventing medical conditions and maintaining long-term physical well-being.
People may seek DO care because they want to work on overall wellness rather than treat a single condition. Individuals with shingles may choose a DO because they need help with a range of symptoms.
One technique that a DO might suggest for someone with shingles is known as
Shingles can cause pain due to uncomfortable rashes. Balancing tissue function through myofascial release may provide relief in some cases.
A DO may also use:
- facilitated positional relief
- balanced ligamentous tension
- reciprocal inhibition
Shingles can cause pain and discomfort throughout the body. An experienced DO may be able to increase a person’s comfort by restoring tissue balance and connectivity.
Learn more about the differences between DOs and MDs here.
A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in skin, hair, and nails. They are able to diagnose and treat over 3,000 conditions.
Some of the conditions they treat include:
Shingles typically involves painful rashes that can occur in different parts of the body. Dermatologists are familiar with many different skin conditions, so they may be able to provide valuable advice and relief for people experiencing pain from shingles.
A neurologist is a doctor who specializes in conditions that affect the brain and nervous system. For example, they can treat epilepsy, brain tumors, neuromuscular conditions, and Alzheimer’s disease, among others.
A common neurological complication of shingles is PHN. This condition affects the nervous system and causes chronic pain.
Researchers estimate that PHN occurs in roughly
- topical lidocaine
- topical capsaicin
Anyone who develops a neurological complication from shingles should consult a neurologist. They can help identify the issue and provide treatment recommendations.
An ophthalmologist is a type of eye doctor who treats conditions involving the eyes and vision. They can handle everything from recommending the right glasses to performing eye surgery.
An estimated 10–20% of shingles cases affect the eye. This type of shingles is known as herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO).
People with HZO may experience:
- tingling in the forehead
- severe pain in the nerves of the eyes
- eye inflammation
Ophthalmologists can conduct exams and tests to determine the presence of HZO. Most people with HZO will receive systemic antiviral medications.
Regardless of the type of shingles specialist they choose, it is crucial for anyone experiencing symptoms of shingles to seek immediate care. Prompt treatment can help reduce the risk of developing painful conditions such as PHN.
By paying attention to symptoms and finding care quickly, people with shingles can reduce or prevent the chance of serious complications.
Anyone who notices potential symptoms of shingles should contact a doctor as soon as possible. These symptoms
The right course of treatment for shingles depends on the individual and the case in question.
Some common shingles treatment options include:
- antiviral drugs
- tricyclic antidepressants
- topical creams
Shingles specialists focus on reducing pain, limiting complications, and speeding up the healing process. Each case of shingles is unique and requires personalized care.
People who develop complications may need to visit a specialist to help manage their symptoms.
Shingles is an uncomfortable condition that can cause a variety of symptoms in different people. In some cases, a person may also develop complications that require specialist care.
The most suitable doctor will likely depend on the shingles symptoms a person has. Contacting a medical professional immediately after noticing shingles symptoms can help reduce discomfort and lower the risk of long-term effects.