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herpes zoster? or MRSA

doubleplaydoubleplay Registered User Posts: 3,550 Senior Member
edited November 2007 in Parent Cafe
OK, I probably should not have read all that other stuff about MRSA.

DS called tonight and said he went to infirmary earlier this week, and then again today...

Last week, he had a lesion on his cheek. I actually saw it but didn't say anything (we visited him on Saturday). It looked like sort of a large pimple/red spot on his cheek. He has outgrown acne, and usually has smooth clear skin, but I chalked it up to some late onset renegade pimple.

Apparently, he took it upon himself to get it checked out Monday, because it assumed boil-like proportions (according to him) and they told him it was herpes zoster/shingles: since it developed a week ago, the medicine doesn't work unless it's taken within 24 hours, so they sent him on his way. Then earlier today, he noticed another lesion on his neck, so he went back to the infirmary this AM and they gave him something to take orally.

Now I'm really worried!!! After reading the other thread, and the fact that it's spreading, should I be?? How does one distinguish shingles from MRSA?
Post edited by doubleplay on

Replies to: herpes zoster? or MRSA

  • fendergirlfendergirl Registered User Posts: 4,694 Senior Member
    i sent you a PM
  • teriwttteriwtt Super Moderator Posts: 12,525 Super Moderator
    sorry to hear you're so worried.

    Did he tell you what medication they gave him? That would indicate what they think it is.

    From what I've heard about shingles, it can be incredibly painful. Anyone who has had chicken pox can get it.
  • chocoholicchocoholic Registered User Posts: 2,995 Senior Member
    Sorry to hear that. Shingles is (are?) quite painful. I always thought that shingles affected older people, and also that they manifested as a rash or series of little blisters, rather than single boils.
  • doubleplaydoubleplay Registered User Posts: 3,550 Senior Member
    It was a single pimple/boil. And he says it didn't hurt, it just got larger. They gave him aciclovar (sp?). He says it doesn't bother him, and he isn't feeling poorly. That's a good thing!

    It's just that it scares me, because it didn't look like the typical pictures of shingles (rash-like); it looked more like a regular old pimple on the cheek. And the fact that he went into the infirmary 48 hours after I saw him, because he says it looked like a boil by then... well, he's NOT the type of person that gives a rat's behind about pimples, etc., so that tells me he knew there was something serious about it. He's had chin strap nasties from football, acne, underarm rash (and other rashes)... and never complained. So it must have been pretty serious for him to go to the infirmary, twice.

    Oh, dear. OK, I'm not going to think about this today.

    I told him I'd call tomorrow and find out more (why do these things always seem to happen right before the weekend?).
  • over30over30 Registered User Posts: 2,411 Senior Member
    Acyclovir is given for shingles, chicken pox, genital herpes.

    "Acyclovir is used to decrease pain and speed the healing of sores or blisters in people who have varicella (chickenpox), herpes zoster (shingles; a rash that can occur in people who have had chickenpox in the past), and first-time or repeat outbreaks of genital herpes."
  • doubleplaydoubleplay Registered User Posts: 3,550 Senior Member
    He has had chicken pox. Both sons got CP when they were in 1st/2nd grade- right around the time they were coming out with the vaccine! My dad used to tell me how he suffered with shingles as a young man, after having had chicken pox as a child (except he'd get them around his trunk). I'll have to ask him about it tomorrow. It's too late to call tonight (he goes to bed after Bill O'Reilly I think...).

    I also read the lysine helps (?). I remember giving lysine to one of my kids when they were little (don't remember which) because they would get cankor sores sometimes.
  • mkm56mkm56 Registered User Posts: 3,062 Senior Member
    Shingles will generally follow a nerve path. And they are usually painful--most people I have known who have had it describe as a burning pain.

    From medicinenet.com
    "Before a rash is visible, the patient may notice several days to a week of burning pain and sensitive skin. Shingles start as small blisters on a red base, with new blisters continuing to form for 3-5 days. The blisters follow the path of individual nerves that comes out of the spinal cord (called dermatomal pattern). The entire path of the nerve may be involved or there may be areas with blisters and areas without blisters. Generally, only one nerve level is involved. In a rare case, more than one nerve will be involved. Eventually, the blisters pop and the area starts to ooze. The area will then crust over and heal. The whole process may take 3-4 weeks from start to finish. On occasion, the pain will be present but the blisters may never appear. This can be a very confusing cause of local pain!"
  • movinmommovinmom Registered User Posts: 421 Member
    D had shingles in high school and I had always thought it was an old person's ailment. She missed a week of sports and never was that sick. If I am not mistaken it also infects one side of the body only? We were told the same thing about the meds probably not being too effective if not taken in the first 24 hours.
  • somemomsomemom Registered User Posts: 10,466 Senior Member
    It could be staff that it not MRSA, but still persistant. my D had a staff infection on her chin from swimming in a nearby lake the doctor guessed- we saw it come back again and again, in the same spot at least 3-4 times and that is still the spot that still breaks out all the time. I think it is a persistant staph colony that just won't go away, but seems to surface in times of stress and low immune response.

    I suggest your son get obsessive with his washing, use a topical antibiotic and just really keep everything pristinely clean. That will only help once this passes, until then he might need oral antibiotics. they can also culture the sore and see if it is MRSA or something else.

    A herpes cold sore would tend to tingle, itch, maybe tingle along the nerve pathways adjacent- ear, nose, lip, etc. I don't know how shingles would feel, though it is generally an older person disease, it does hit kids. A friends of ours had it in middle school.
  • oregonianmomoregonianmom Registered User Posts: 1,983 Senior Member
    My H had shingles when he was 12; it's definitely not reserved for older people. My aunt has a case of it right now, on her face - and in her eye! She's in her 60's.

    I hope your son responds quickly to the medication. He should follow up very soon if it doesn't clear, in case it is a staph infection instead of shingles.
  • Sarahsmom42Sarahsmom42 Registered User Posts: 955 Member
    I've never heard of shingles presenting on the face. It's usually on the torso isn't it. I'd get another opinion just to be sure.
  • lspf72lspf72 Registered User Posts: 2,612 Senior Member
    A classmate of mine had shingles in jr high school-- on her head. At least her parents said it was shingles. It got so bad it resulted in open, red, almost bloody-looking patches on her scalp. I remember it well because at one point after she'd started healing she got annoyed with me for not letting her borrow my hairbrush... I don't remember her saying it was painful, though. Looking back, I wonder if it really was shingles?
  • oregonianmomoregonianmom Registered User Posts: 1,983 Senior Member
    Here's an article I found about where shingles can occur:

    A typical shingles rash follows the path of certain nerves on one side of the body - generally on the trunk, buttocks, neck, face or scalp - and usually stops abruptly at the midline. Shingles is common in the elderly and rarely seen in younger adults. About two-thirds of all cases occur in persons over the age of 50. It affects both sexes equally.
  • sunnyfloridasunnyflorida Registered User Posts: 4,790 Senior Member
    It does sound like shingles/zoster. My D had it last year at age 15, so age does not really matter. Shingles can look like a red bumpy rash, can have blisters, can almost look like impetigo. MRSA in this location would look very angry, forming a boil like structure, eventually release a very obvious yellow green pus--sorry to be so graphic. If he was seen by an MD/ARNP/PA, and they did not think it looked like MRSA, its probably not. Usually shingles is not a single leasion, but several. It follows a nerve path, and can be seen along a "line" so it is not unusual that he could have it come to the surface in "crops" that include first the lesion on the face and then a day or a few days later the neck. It never crosses the midline. He could have still another "spot" or two in another few days, so letting him know may help him to worry less if more pop up.

    I thought my D's was poisen ivy, and that she was spreading it with scratching, Suddenly a light came on for "doctor mom." It was shingles alright.

    While it is true that acyclovir(Zovirax), Valtrex and Famvir ideally should be started in the first 48 hours, even starting later can lessen the symptoms and cut the chances of post herpetic neuralgia--the pain that can linger after the outbreak is gone. My D started on meds late, but hers did clear up rather quickly and with no symptoms that lingered after the outbreak was gone.

    If he was actually seen twice, try to relax about the MRSA. Its on everyones mind, and I am sure they have ruled it out.
  • backhandgripbackhandgrip Registered User Posts: 1,498 Senior Member
    I hear MRSA is a painful lesion.
This discussion has been closed.