shingles of the scalp

Posted , 9 users are following.

I've had shingles twice before, and now I have it in my hair.  I'm having to wait for a GP appointment to confirm it and, hopefully, get some medication but I'm pretty sure from the symptoms, that it is shingles.  I'm worried because all recommendations are that medication needs to be started early or you can have permanent hair loss.  Should I make a fuss and insist on an 'emergency' appointment - even though this isn't life threatening.

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9 Replies

  • Posted

    I have never heard that it leads to hair loss.

    Try getting in to see your dermatologist.

    That's who first diagnosed me. They seem to have a better feel of what you are going through and maybe you could get into one sooner than your GP.

    Good luck and God bless!

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your reply.

      I now have a bottle of coal tar shampoo from the practise nurse at my surgery - it smells like sheep dip according to my OH.

      Are you in the UK?  I ask because I've never heard of anyone 'having' a dermatologist - only people being referred to one by their GP, which usually takes several months before an appointment is arranged with the NHS. 

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  • Posted

    Honestly, I would say yes.  I would call and get in ASAP.  I have had Shingles since I was 21, I am now 48.  I have had them on my right leg since two years ago, breaking out 2-3 times a year.  It was minor and I never took medication for it.  In 2014, I woke up with pretty severe pain on my scalp and thought I had been bitten by some sort of insect.  Unfortunately, I didn't call the doc until about the 3rd day and by that time, I was past the initial pain and began breaking out.  The pain also came down onto my forehead/temple/eye area and thankfully while I had blisters on my scalp, never had any on my face.  

    Whenever I get the initial pain of a breakout on my scalp, I start my anti-virals immediately and then the pain subsides after 24 hours or so and the breakout is stopped.  I don't know about hair loss.  There are people on this site that could give you more info on that.  I just know it's good to stop the blisters if you can.  Good luck to you.

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    • Posted

      Dear Fellow Dancer,

      Second attempt at post.

      Please get an appointment ASAP or go to Urgent Care or A&E, UK. The sooner one starts the antivirals, the less protracted the disease, the less intense the pain and symptoms, and the lower the risk for complications.

      Ask for Valcyclovir or Famciclovir rather than Acyclovir as they have increased bioavailability. They are 3x daily dosing, and Acyclovir is 5x daily dosing.

      Also, Google the Lysine-Arginine Herpes Zoster-Shingles diet connection. I love Cashews, Macadamias, and Peanuts, all which are high in Arginine. They were triggering worse painful episodes of Herpes Zoster-Shingles.

      Are you immunocompromised with SLE, Psoriasis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogrens Syndrome, CANCER, ITP, Corticosteroids?

      I am a Nurse Practitioner in the States. I have Herpes Zoster-Shingles in my right ear every three to five weeks for the past twenty years and twice in my right eye.

      Let me know how I can help you.

      Best regards

      Merry Juliana

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    • Posted

      Thank you for your sympathetic reply.  I managed to get a GP appointment on the same day which is amazing here in the UK, and was ushered into a side room to await attention.  I was finally seen my the practise nurse who said she was not qualified to prescribe Acyclovir (!?) and said she doubted if it was shingles as it wasn't show the 'normal' pattern so she gave me a bottle of coal tar shampoo to use daily as she said I have a dry scalp.

      I have to say it 'feels' like a quite mild shingles to me - the itch-hurt of the blisters when touched 'feels' like it going from the other two outbreaks i've had.  Now some of the blisters have popped so I guess I'll find out by the end of Sunday when the surgery re-opens.

      Having shingles in your ear every 3-5 weeks sounds like H*ll - how on earth do you cope?

      I'm not sure what you mean by 'immunocompromised with SLE, Psoriasis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogrens Syndrome, CANCER, ITP, Corticosteroids' - I've never had the problems you mention although I do have steroid injections into my ankles about every 6months (too much dancing).


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  • Posted

    Dear ExDancer!

    No, I am in the US, where referrals to the specialists don't necessarily depend on the insurance company.

    It is now probably past the 72 hours, but the NP was wrong in not giving you antivirals. The next time I would insist on seeing the physician. Diseases do not read the books and can present slightly differently. If you had some of the preeruption symptoms such as headache, fever, chills and sweating, aches and pains, fatigue and exhaustion, malaise,plus the similar sensation of pain burning, lancinating pain in the area of the rash, then it is shingles.

    It is better to treat it as shingles as it is a set disease.

    Warm wishes

    Merry Juliana

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    • Posted

      Hi Merry,

      I read through the posts on shingles. This is my first case of it and it is all around my left eye (the lid looks like one giant swollen blister), forehead and on my scalp. I've been put on Valtrex and neurontin and have put hydrocortisone cream on my forehead. I tried putting it on a couple spots on scalp but my problem is I have long extremely thick hair and don't know what to do to wash it without damaging it or my scalp. Any suggestions?


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    • Posted

      Dear Robin,

      I am so sorry you are going through this.

      Have you been seen by an Ophthalmologist? As your eyelid is involved, you should have been evaluated be an Ophthalmologist.

      I would wash your hair with baby shampoo as they are non-stinging. I would not use conditioner near the scalp, nor any other hair products, as they might irritate the lesions.

      Although I am a daily hair washer, I would decrease the frequency of hair shampooing. Also use tepid water. Heat increases the pain. Ice and cold water soothes the pain.

      Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo or Mennen Baby Magic Wash do not sting. Some generic baby shampoos definitely are NOT gentle.

      You might find Solarcaine with Aloe or Bactine helpful for the pain as they contain Lidocaine, which numb the skin. Just be very careful to avoid the eyes!

      Herpes Zoster-Shingles has accompanying symptoms such as headache, chills and sweating, aches and pains, fatigue and exhaustion, and malaise. The fatigue and exhaustion can persist for months.

      You need to rest and sleep. Increased activity increases the pain. You cannot power through this.

      If your pain is not being well-controlled, please let me know.

      Best Wishes

      My heart goes out to you.

      Merry Juliana

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