Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Symptoms and Treatment

OVERVIEW

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is an infection caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After the initial infection subsides, the virus remains inactive in your body and can reactivate years later. 

Shingles (which should not be confused with chickenpox) cause a painful rash and sometimes additional symptoms like fever, headache, or even hearing or vision loss. read more Here…

Shingles
Shingles

SOME IMPORTANT FACTS:

  • Introduction to shingles
  • What are the risk factors of infection?
  • What are the main symptoms of shingles infection?
  • How can you diagnose if you have an outbreak of herpes zoster virus?
  • Can you prevent it?
  • Is there a cure for herpes zoster?

Introduction to shingles

Although most people associate herpes zoster with chickenpox, it is actually a reactivation of that virus. Shingles begin when your immune system tries to fight off a dormant virus, causing a rash of blisters to develop on one side of your body. 

The severity can vary from person to person, but many people experience long-term discomfort, tingling or burning pain in affected areas even after their blisters have healed. 

If you’ve had chickenpox in the past or are showing symptoms of shingles infection, see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment options. You can also use natural remedies as an alternative to prescription medication.

 

What are the risk factors of infection?

Risk factors for developing shingles vary but generally include having been infected with chickenpox in your past. If you had chickenpox as a child, you have about a 20% chance of getting shingles. 

People who have compromised immune systems are also at risk because their bodies can’t fight off an infection from another virus. Additionally, if you contracted chickenpox as an adult or if you’ve already had a case of shingles, your risk is higher. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you know you’re at risk; they may recommend medication that will prevent shingles or reduce its effects. 

Since there is no cure for shingles, treatment focuses on relieving symptoms, managing pain and minimizing complications. Medications used to treat shingles include acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), valacyclovir (Valtrex), and others. 

In many cases these medications only provide temporary relief; so it’s important to learn how to manage symptoms without medication until additional treatments become available. read more Here…

 

What are the main symptoms of shingles infection?

Doctors will often run a skin test to determine if you have an outbreak of herpes zoster virus. The procedure is similar to that used for diagnosing a strep infection. A health care provider will prick your skin with a needle that has been dipped in a solution containing dead herpes zoster virus. 

Then he or she will look for signs of inflammation at the site of your skin sample after 24 hours, 48 hours, and 7 days. If there is evidence of inflammation, then it’s likely you are infected with the herpes zoster virus. 

Your doctor might also perform an examination under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis in some cases or if testing methods are unavailable.

Shingles
Shingles

 

How can you diagnose if you have an outbreak of herpes zoster virus?

The symptoms of shingles include a painful, blistery rash that forms on your skin. Other than rashes, you can also experience pain or itching around your eye area. Sometimes if you’ve had chickenpox in childhood or have been exposed to it at some point in time, the herpes zoster virus might cause shingles. 

This is because after your body fights off chickenpox infection, a weakened version of it stays dormant in your body’s nerve roots. As people grow older, these nerves start sending out false signals to trigger an outbreak of the shingles virus. 

To confirm if you’re having an outbreak of herpes zoster virus, consult a doctor immediately and get tested for both chickenpox and herpes zoster viruses simultaneously.

 

Can you prevent it?

In most cases, you can’t prevent shingles. But a vaccine is available to help protect you from getting it later in life. For adults age 60 or older, it’s recommended that people receive two doses of vaccine six to 12 months apart. Side effects may include pain or redness at the injection site, headache, fatigue and fever. 

Vaccination is not effective in those with active shingles infection. Antiviral drugs may be prescribed during an outbreak if your doctor thinks they’ll help. These medications have been shown to shorten outbreaks and reduce complications such as vision loss, hearing loss or postherpetic neuralgia. 

Options are acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), valacyclovir (Valtrex) and others. The course typically lasts five days; common side effects include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and headaches. Gently rubbing a topical cream — usually, lidocaine — on blisters has also shown to be effective in reducing pain by numbing nerve endings where lesions occur. 

Topical corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone are also sometimes used for their anti-inflammatory properties.

 

Is there a cure for herpes zoster?

The herpes zoster virus lies dormant in your body after you have chickenpox, which is called shingles. Shingles are a recurring virus that can re-activate any time after years of lying dormant. 

As of now, there is no known cure for herpes zoster. If a person becomes infected with chickenpox, they will be at risk for having shingles due to natural ageing or exposure to ultraviolet light from sunburns later in life. 

In fact, one out of three people over age 50 are affected by shingles infection. People who suffer from an impaired immune system, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy, also increase their risk for shingles. 

Treatments depend on how severe your condition is: oral antiviral medications are most commonly prescribed to treat common symptoms such as pain and itching experienced during a rash outbreak. A prescription steroid may also be necessary if blisters develop into open wounds that heal slowly or leave scars upon healing. 

Even though there isn’t a cure yet, treatment options help manage symptoms until they disappear within 2-3 weeks following the eruption. 

Shingles treatments aren’t only limited to pharmaceutical drugs; nutritional supplements are available if you’re looking into alternative ways of managing pain caused by outbreaks while boosting overall health simultaneously.

 

Shingles
Shingles

 

TOP QUERIES 

  • Shingles vaccine
  • Shingles rash
  • Shingles treatment
  • Shingles on face
  • Shingles virus
  • Shingles pain
  • Shingles in the eye
 

Shingles vaccine

The herpes zoster vaccine is a safe, effective, and well-tolerated vaccine that can help reduce your risk of shingles. It also helps prevent postherpetic neuralgia, which is pain lasting three months or longer after you get shingles. 

The vaccine reduces your risk of getting shingles by 50 to 70 per cent if given within three to five years after getting chickenpox. If you’re 60 or older, it may be helpful for people who’ve already had shingles or who have weak immune systems. 

There are two forms of VZV vaccines: one used on children aged 12–59 months old; another one used on adults over age 60.

 

Shingles
Shingles

 

Shingles rash

The characteristic symptom of shingles is a blistering rash, which usually appears on only one side of your body, but can also appear on both sides. 

The affected area is generally extremely painful and tender to touch, although some people do not experience much pain at all. Blisters are often accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, body aches, fatigue, nausea or vomiting. 

These symptoms usually disappear over time but you should contact your doctor if they persist for more than a few days after your rash has cleared up. Shingles most commonly affect adults who are in their 60s or older; however, they can affect anyone at any age.

 

Shingles treatment

Shingle is a viral infection that causes painful blisters, commonly on one side of your body. The blisters typically heal in 2 to 4 weeks, but if you’re over 50 years old, they may last longer or recur. 

The virus that causes shingles can also cause chickenpox. Both are members of the herpes virus family. When you were younger, you were infected with varicella-zoster virus (VZV), which lives in your nerve cells and can cause flare-ups of chickenpox or shingles later in life as VZV reactivates.

 

Shingles on face

Early symptoms of shingles include mild pain, itchiness or tingling on one side of your face. This can often be felt behind your ear. 

Soon after, you may notice a painful rash develop on one side of your face that radiates down your neck and shoulder but does not cross over to other parts of your body. If left untreated, shingles can also cause complications like blindness in one eye, postherpetic neuralgia or impaired ability to taste and smell.

 

Shingles virus

The shingles virus, also known as Herpes zoster, is a contagious virus that leads to chickenpox in adults. Chickenpox is a common childhood illness characterized by itchy skin rashes. 

It spreads from one person to another through direct contact with an infected person or contaminated objects, like bed sheets or clothing. Shingles are caused by the varicella-zoster virus – which causes chickenpox. 

Once you have had chickenpox, the virus remains inactive in your body’s nerve roots until years later when it reactivates to cause shingles — even after years of being symptom-free. The risk of developing shingles increases as you age because your immune system becomes weaker over time.

 

Shingles
Shingles

 

Shingles pain

It usually occurs in a band-like pattern across one side of your body. The pain is often described as excruciating or burning. 

The affected area will be very sensitive to touch and will tingle, itch, or even feel numb. This can cause problems with your vision because it can cause you to temporarily lose feeling in certain areas of your face, eye, mouth, or ear. 

The nerve pain from shingles that affects any part of your face can make smiling difficult for example. Some people have so much pain when their shingles start that they have trouble doing everyday tasks like eating or drinking water. The nerves affected by shingles infection also control how well you blink your eyes.

 

Shingles in the eye

sores that affect areas of your eye can spread to other parts of your body. This is known as disseminated herpes zoster. When you have shingles in your eye, there’s a risk that it can spread to surrounding nerves, causing inflammation in these nerve roots. 

If you’re diagnosed with shingles around your eye, you might be prescribed antiviral medications or given steroid injections to help manage symptoms until they go away. A steroid shot can decrease inflammation and reduce pain at injection sites in as soon as 24 hours. 

Antiviral drugs may help reduce symptoms from oral herpes, like cold sores. Depending on where you get them, treatment for cold sores usually lasts five days or less

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