Shingles Infection

What is Shingles?

Shingles is a pain inducing rash caused by the Varicella Zoster virus, also known as herpes zoster. It is the same virus that causes chicken pox. The skin rash usually appears in a line or group on a small area on the body or face. Common places include the shoulders, back, arms, chest, nose, and around the eyes. The most susceptible people are adults over 50, children who have already had the chicken pox, and anyone with weak immune systems due to anxiety, injury, or ongoing conditions.

What  Are The Causes of Shingles?

When the virus that causes chicken pox becomes active again, shingles can occur. Most cases of the chicken pox are in children, although adults are not immune. The virus heals on the outside, but remains dormant in the body inside the nerve roots. For some people it is possible for the virus to stay hidden for life, while others have no further outbreaks after having a case of the chicken pox or even shingles.  The virus can be induced by stress or when the immune system becomes weakened. On rare occasions, medicines can trigger the virus and result in a shingles rash.

One thing to note is that shingles cannot transfer from one person to the next. However, there is a small chance that someone who has not yet had chicken pox can contract the virus from someone who currently has a shingles rash. This may only happen in a person who has not had the vaccine.

What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles?

Shingles is different from other skin and immune viruses. It occurs in stages. You might not realize you have shingles until a later stage. Typically, at first headaches may persist or light may become more sensitive to the eye. Flu-like symptoms may arise but without the fever. As it progresses, itching, tingling, or pain may begin in a particular area of the body. That is when the rash actually begins to develop, a few days later. The small area begins to cluster into blisters. These blisters contain a fluid that will fill up and then crust over.

On average, it takes two to four weeks for the blisters to completely heal, sometimes leaving scars. Some people who get the virus will only get a mild rash, while other will not get a rash at all. For these people, it is important to notice any dizziness or weak feelings. Long-term pain is also possible, as well as rashes on the face or impaired vision and thought processes. That is why anyone showing those symptoms should contact their doctor immediately.

Shingles Treatment Options

Antiviral medications are prescribed to clear up the rash and other symptoms. In addition, pain medicine may be administered if severe enough. Seeking treatment right away is important in getting rid of the rash, and being more comfortable while the virus runs its course. Another thing to remember is to keep any sores clean to prevent scaring and pain.

A vaccine is available for people over 50. The vaccine lowers the chance of contracting the virus. If shingles does appear, the vaccine will ensure that you have less pain and a quicker clear up.

Herpes Zoster Treatment

Treatment for herpes zoster has multiple components. This includes treatment of the viral infection and treatment of the pain associated with the infection. This article will address the antiviral remedies and pain-management used to treat and prevent further infection.

Research as shown that antiviral agents reduce the duration of the zoster rash and minimize the severity of the pain that follows. These benefits have only been gained in patients that received the treatment within the first 72 hours of the rashes appearance. As long as new sores or blisters are developing the antiviral agents can be helpful. However, they are unlikely to affect lesions that have already crusted over.

Examples of these treatment options include Acyclovir, Valacyclovir, and Fenvir. The acyclovir therapy seems to result in a moderate decrease in the occurrence of postherpetic neuralgia. Acyclovir is a DNA polymerase inhibitor, which can be given intravenously or orally. The dosing frequency can be a drawback however, needing to be taken five times daily. The intravenous method is typically administered to patients with weak immune systems or trouble taking oral medications.

Valacyclovir produces similar results, but is only required three times daily. It also decreases the pain associated with the herpes zoster. These medications are usually tolerated well but can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, dizziness or headaches and sometimes abdominal pain.

An alternative to prescription drugs is Fenvir. Fenvir, a clinical strength antiviral medication, has no known adverse affects. It only requires one pill a day and guarantees no outbreaks. It begins working immediately and is more cost effective. It works to get rid of the rash and the pain associated with it.

For people not using Fenvir, additionally medicines may be needed to accompany the pain. Over the counter pain relievers may work for some. If pain persists, see a doctor so they can prescribe a higher dose pain reliever. Regardless the treatment you end up choosing, there are plenty of options available so you don’t have to feel the pain, and you can move on with your daily routine.


Genital Herpes

The percentage of Americans living with Genital Herpes will continue to increase unless the general public can learn the facts on prevention and treatment. Almost one in five American adults and teens have experienced a genital herpes outbreak. Unfortunately, most do not know it because they do not understand the symptoms.

The HSV, herpes simplex virus, causes an infection known as genital herpes which is an infection of the area around the anus or genitals. HSV type 2 is the main cause for genital herpes, although increasing numbers of teens and young adults are contracting genital herpes type 1 virus. Genital herpes is a chronic infection that stays in the body and persists during the course of one’s life. There is no cure, and at least 50 million people are reported to have genital herpes, or HSV infection.

This virus is spread during sexual activity, not just intercourse but through anal and oral sex as well. Sex using protection can be just as costly as protected sex if the partner has viral shedding or an outbreak during that time. Because some people are not aware that their symptoms are genital herpes, the infection silently spreads from one partner to the next. Symptoms can look like other skin infections. They are typically blisters in groups that are painful and sensitive to touch. They can leak fluid and give off a burning or itching sensation.

People whom are infected with an STD are more susceptible to HIV. Genital herpes victims have twice the risk of contracting HIV if contact with the virus occurs. There are also risk factors that contribute to catching HSV. Unprotected sex, stress, fatigue, and prior immune deficiencies can increase risk of getting genital herpes if contact exists. It is extremely important to not engage in any sexual activity with a partner without knowing their sexual history and without being sure they do not have the infection and just aren’t aware of it. The only way to prevent spreading the virus is to know the facts and make responsible decisions when it comes to sex. If you believe you have symptoms that mimic genital herpes, seek medical attention immediately.

Cold Sores

What Are Cold Sores?

You might not realize what a cold sore is. Some people mistaken it for a pimple or another skin irritation. Cold sores may also be referred to as fever blisters. They are groups of small blisters that can occur on the lip or around the mouth. The blisters are surrounded by skin that is red, swollen, and sometimes painful. They may crack open, seeping out clear liquid which scabs over after a few days. Typically, healing time is between several days to two weeks.

What Causes Cold Sores?

Some people may be embarrassed to find out that cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus, the same virus that causes genital herpes. There are two types of the virus, HSV1 and HSV2. Both types of the virus can result in sores in or around the mouth and genitals.

Usually, the virus will enter the body through a skin break on or inside the mouth. It spreads when someone who is infected touches the cold sore or the fluid, transferring it to something else. This can happen from sharing things like chap stick, razors, eating utensils, kissing, or touching of saliva. Don’t be fooled, cold sores can be transferred to other parts of the body.

What Are Cold Sores Symptoms?

The symptoms of cold sores may start out similar to a cold, or may accompany a cold. This can include irritation near the mouth and on the lips, temperature increase, sore throat, or swollen glands. As previously stated, the blisters appear, break open leaking a watery clear fluid, and then scab over disappearing several days later. Some people who have the virus will not get cold sores or any symptoms at all.

Cold Sores Treatment

Diagnosing cold sores does not require any tests. If you are unsure if it is a cold sore or something else such as a pimple, see a doctor. They can ask questions to better understand if you came in contact with the virus by finding out what other symptoms you are having.

Cold sores usually heal on their own. However, they can be accompanied by pain or embarrassment. If treatment is necessary for you, skin creams, ointments, and oral medicines are available. Using one of these methods may result in quicker healing, as well as ease the pain caused by the blisters or other uncomfortable feelings.

The herpes simplex virus cannot be cured, even if it is only causing cold sores. They are still part of the virus and after you become infected, it stays in your body for life. The only thing that can be done is to implement the treatment options, or avoid certain contact with an infected person if you do not already have the virus.

If you do have the virus, nothing will effectively prevent future cold sores, but there are certain things that can reduce the number of outbreaks. Try to avoid stress and maintain good health habits to keep up your immune system. Also, try to use sunscreen and chap stick because too much sun exposure can cause the sores to flare. It is important that you wash your hands thoroughly when you have a cold sore, and avoid touching the affected area.  Prescription pills may also be available for daily use.


Herpes Simplex Virus

The Herpes Simplex Virus has two types, HSV-1 and HSV-2. Type one has the most reported cases of cold sores, while the second type is responsible for most genital herpes outbreaks. Both, however, can be the cause of both genital herpes and cold sore symptoms. The virus is highly contagious and has a high risk of infection when a partner has viral shedding or an obvious outbreak.

HSV-1 transmits the infection orally through open cuts or sores on the skin, near the lip and mouth. It is important to understand that HSV-2 infection can only be passed on during sexual activity with someone who has genital HSV-2. Both types can spread regardless if symptoms or sores are visible. If you are confused about the different types of HSV and how to get treatment, visit for more info.

Attacks, or outbreaks can come often or not at all. Some people are not even aware that they are carrying the virus. Below are a few factors that can bring on a herpes outbreak

  • Weak Immune system or moderate to severe ongoing conditions
  • Fatigue, exhaustion
  • External or internal stress
  • Irritation or trauma to affected area, including sports or sexual activity
  • Women during menstruation

Read the articles to gain more in depth knowledge of the Herpes Simplex Virus and the various infections it can cause.