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I have itchy rash or bumps on the side of my belly. Should I be concerned about the contagious part?

I am a 31 year old female, pregnant 16 weeks. Over the weekend I developed a rash on the side of my belly, then it spread into two separate rashes to the top of my belly by my chest , and a third rash on my back. The small rash on my back is about an inch in diameter and not too painful, but the other two are 3 to 4 inches in diameter and very irritated and extremely itchy. I have not changed my diet or been exposed (that I know of) to anything that can give me a rash, nor have I had any type of stress. The rashes have bumps, almost look eye-like. The first 2 days the rashes felt as if on fire with extreme itchiness and discomfort. I couldn t fall asleep without grunting from the pain. I wore loose clothing to keep the fabric from touching my skin . The large rashes are sore to the touch as if bruised. The bumps aren t weepy or oozing, some are red, some are clearish in color, and others look as if they are healing , and that is where the eye look comes from. The bumps seem to slowly be spreading outside the rash area. I went to my PCP and was told it is shingles . He prescribed 2.5 cortisone & Valtrex. I have an appointment with my OB-GYN and was told by her to stay home if contagious , and she also told me I should not have shingles due to the age matter. I was not told by my PCP to stay home or that I was contagious, I have continued to go to work. Should I be concerned about the contagious part? Was I given the proper medicine or proper diagnosis for that matter?
Asked On : Thu, 20 Jan 2011
Answers:  3 Views:  323
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General & Family Physician 's  Response
It seems like you have been given a correct diagnosis. Shingles is painful vesicles in a particular nerve distribution involving adjacent parts of your skin.

Shingles is a actually reactivation on Varicella zoster virus(VZV) which causes chicken pox first. You would have had chicken pox when young. The thing is if someone who is going to be around you hasn't had chicken pox before, they would get chicken pox if exposed to the virus from you. If they already had chicken pox before no need to worry for them. They won't get it again.
Answered: Thu, 20 Jan 2011
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  Anonymous's Response
Thank you. Your answer puts me at ease about the diagnosis. I'll check again with my PCP about the contagious matter since co-workers get scared with the word "contagious."
Answered: Thu, 20 Jan 2011
Internal Medicine Specialist Dr. Geeta Sundar's  Response
Hi welcome to HCM. Your doctor has correctly diagnosed shingles or herpes zoster that affects one side of the body along the distribution of a single nerve. It is the same virus as chicken pox that affects children. It is an exteremely painful condition since it affects the nerve, and contagious as far as the droppings from the lesions falling down and affecting those who have not been exposed to the chicken pox virus. As regards medicine, the specific drug is acilovir given as 400 mgs five times a day, along with pain killer and high dose B-complex. Steroid is given but in only very severe cases because of the side effects.
Answered: Tue, 31 Jan 2012
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