Shingles is known as herpes zoster, an extremely painful viral infection that is caused by the chicken pox virus. Shingles can develop in any person who already has had chicken pox. More than one out of every ten people who had the chicken pox virus as a child gets the shingles virus as adults. Usually it occurs in people that are over 60 years of age. Varicella zoster, which is the same virus that causes chicken pox, causes shingles and is in the herpes family. The shingles disease is not a new infection and it is considered a second outbreak of the chicken pox virus.
A few of the germs that cause chicken pox stay inside body and remain dormant in the nerve cells near the spine for many years. The herpes zoster virus then suddenly “awakens” from the inactive state and begins to grow and develop. When is reaches the active stage, the germs then move through the nerve paths to the skin and leave a path of destruction in the nerves they pass through. This then will result in pain and a shingles rash as stated in the next paragraph.
Shingles may include severe burning pain, a blistering rash, extreme sensitivity to the skin and tingles that last approximately a month and limit to one side and area of the body. If someone is suffering from a low immune system at the time or severe stress the chicken pox virus can be reactivated and because of the age increase, shingles becomes the result.
An individual with a rash or outbreak is contagious to anyone who has not been exposed to the virus in the past. Shingles itself is not contagious but if exposed to it, you may get the chicken pox for the first time. The symptoms of shingles can include migraines, photophobia, fever, and malaise. There can be tingling, itching, or pain before the actual lesions appear. The rash will occur within 3-5 days.
In the beginning, it is a slightly reddish rash that forms a cluster of clear small blisters. After a few days these small blisters may become ulcerate, dry up, and eventually crust over. The most common sightings of shingles are usually on one side of the chest and on one side of the scalp or forehead. Shingles may take around 2-4 weeks to heal and there can be scarring involved.
Anyone who is over the age of 5 and has had chicken pox in their lifetime can get the infection. Since the odds of getting the disease were so great, a shingles vaccine to prevent chicken pox became available 5 years ago and most likely most preschoolers today who were vaccinated at that time will not have to worry about getting shingles. The shingles treatments used are to reduce discomfort and severe shingles pain or itching and to start the healing of blisters as well as to prevent the disease from spreading around the body.
If an individual notices symptoms and begins early treatment of shingles it can reduce the severity of shingles. An individual that experiences herpes zoster on the face region could be at risk for eye infection and blindness and should see a doctor immediately. Though shingles is caused by a virus there are options to find shingles relief. The main treatment is antiviral medication.
There is a variety of antiviral medications and these forms of shingles treatments are taken three to five times a day for approximately 8-10 days. Some drugs may be given to relieve the inflammation such as prednisone, though not a shingles remedy, they will provide shingles relief. Ask your doctor for prescription pain relievers and possibly a low dose of an antidepressant to relieve you from shingles pain.