How do i know if i have shingles?

Dear Ask The Doctor:
How do i know if i have shingles. I am itchy all over i have a rash on my front part of my neck. I thought it was allergies about a month ago my eyes were watery and real itchy been taking alvert for a month now just stopped about 1 1/2 ago and than this happened with the rash on my chest, feels like a burning sensation on my back over the weekend my back was terribly itchy. I had to have my husband itch it for me several times. My husband has never had chicken pox and nothing has happened to him yet so I am wondering if maybe this is just dry skin or something else from the alavert. I bought a box of 72 pills of alavert and have been taking them for a while probably took 40 pills. To say I have real pain no just itchy all over.

A:   I realize how concerned you are about Shingles. According to your description of the events, this does not look like shingles to me. It appears to be Atopic Dermatitis, this diagnosis seems to be more probable due to your history of allergies and the characteristics of your current rash.
This  condition characterize by an itchy rash that might resolve by itself, Corticosteroid creams, wet compresses and avoiding irritants are the cornerstones of most dermatitis treatment plans. To minimize side effects, such as thin skin, and to increase effectiveness, topical corticosteroids are generally used only short-term until rashes are under control. The most important advice is not to scratch, this might cause cracks in your skin and could get infected. I suggest you to continue taking Alavert, use mild soaps, avoid hot water when bathing and moisturize your skin. This condition will pass on its own, you might also want to try using corticosteroid creams no more than 3 times a day, I wish you a prompt recovery.

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