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.