Tony La Russa has started to look like sloth from the goonies, so it was a relief to hear he visited the Mayo Clinic in Arizona for a diagnosis. The diagnosis is ocular shingles, which sucks for Tony.
Shingles itself is a viral disease called herpes zoster. To keep things simple, we’ll keep calling it shingles. It is a viral disease that causes skim inflammation and a high degree of pain. It is latent, meaning it can come and go on its own, hanging around for less than a month.
Tony has a version of the shingles called ophthalmic zoster, which affects a cranial nerve running through the face. My suspicion is that this is the cause of the inflammation and swelling of his ocular cavity (eye). There is almost no chance he’ll go blind from this condition.
How do you know if you have shingles? You’ll have a very distinct rash. The rash area will be extremely painful with the pain occurring in waves. Depending on where the rash appears, you’ll have difficulty sleeping.
How long will have shingles? A typical outbreak lasts less than a month. There is a slight chance that when the outbreak is finished you could suffer from continued pain due to nerve involvement, though this is more common the older you are.
How do you treat shingles? At the first sign you should start a course of anti-viral medication. Since shingles are latent, you might need to continue the antivirals for a period of time, though your doctor would know best. You can use a topical cream to help the rash crust and to deal with pain through a soothing process. Over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs offer little relief in real world settings.
Can you prevent shingles? Yes and no. If you have the virus, you’ll have it forever. If you have never had the chicken pox, then you will never get shingles. There is a vaccine, though, the cost is prohibitive for wide adoption outside of people above the age of 60.
The thing about shingles is that most people exposed to it will battle against it successfully. It is only in immune system compromised people who it can attack.