Pain is one of the most common shingles symptoms which are followed afterwards by a reddish rash.
Shingles also called zoster or herpes zoster is a viral disease caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus. These viruses are also known as varicella-zoster virus and herpes zoster virus. Common shingles symptoms include localized skin rashes which are often painful and numerous fluid-filled blisters on the skin. The sexually transmitted disease called genital herpes is caused by a completely different virus from the herpes zoster virus. The sexually transmitted disease is caused by another virus known as herpes genitalis otherwise known as herpes simplex virus.
The virus varicella-zoster or chickenpox virus may remain dormant inside the body after the course of the disease. They usually stay in the nerve roots that control a person’s sensation. In some cases, the chickenpox virus that lies dormant inside the body awakens or reactivates after a couple of years. When this happens, shingles occurs. The virus is then referred to as the herpes zoster virus. The exact cause of reactivation is unknown. However, it may be reactivated by certain triggering factors. It usually occurs in people aged 60 years old and above; it rarely occurs in children and your people.
Shingles isn’t really life-threatening, but it can cause intense pain. The risk of developing shingles is said to be reduce through vaccines, and chances of complications as well as the duration of infection can be lessen through early treatment.
Shingles can affect various body parts depending on the involved nerves. Shingles symptoms involve extreme pain or sensitivity on a particular body part. The sensation can be a shooting or deep pain, or constant aching, burning, tingling, or itching. When these symptoms appear on the person’s face, especially somewhere near the eye, it is important to seek medical help as soon as possible. Other symptoms of shingles include; itching, headache, chills, and fever.
Commonly, the first three days of the disease is only manifested by pain. After three days, blisters, red bumps, and rashes may erupt on the skin on the same site as the pain. The blisters are pus-filled which forms a scab after about 10-12 days. In some cases, blisters and rashes may not be present. After two to three weeks, the scab falls off and rashes disappears, which results to scarring.
Causes of Shingles Symptoms
Shingles is caused by varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles may develop to anyone that has acquired chickenpox. The varicella-zoster virus enters the nervous system after the course of the disease and lies dormant in the body for years. The virus may reactivate which then travels along the skin, in the nerve pathways – resulting to shingles.
The reason for the reactivation of the chickenpox virus is unclear. However, it is commonly associated with the immunity of the affected person. People with lowered or impaired immunity are more likely to develop shingles. This includes people who are stressed, fatigued, and affected with diseases such as: HIV/AIDS and cancer. The disease is also common among the elderly.
Individuals with shingles may be able to transmit the varicella-zoster virus to anyone who is not immune to chickenpox. The virus is usually transmitted through direct contact with the rashes of a person affected by shingles. However, the infected person will not develop shingles but chickenpox.
Treatment of Shingles Symptoms
Antiviral medications are only effective in individuals with shingles if given early. This makes early consultation very important. Immediate medical care is also very important if symptoms appear in the face, especially in the nose and eyes.
Individuals affected by shingles should avoid scratching the skin if rashes occur. Scratching may damage the skin, which may result to secondary bacterial infection as well as scarring. Over-the-counter medications such as topical creams (Lidocaine cream) or antihistamines (Benadryl) are effective ways of relieving the itch.
Cool compresses can also help dry and soothe the blisters. It also removes some of the scabs and decreases the risk for secondary bacterial infection. Remember to stop using tap-water compresses once the blisters are dry. This is to avoid the surrounding skin from becoming itchy and too dry. It is also important to be careful when applying cool compresses as the scabs contain the varicella virus which if removed; may spread to susceptible individuals.
Proper hygiene is also important. It is advised clean the area using mild soap and water to keep the area clean. Avoid wearing tight clothing because it may aggravate the pain. Furthermore, avoid contact with high risk individuals to prevent the spread of the disease.
Common medications for shingles symptoms include antivirals such as: Famciclovir (Famvir), Valacyclovir (Valtrex), and Acyclovir (Zovirax). Since one of the symptoms of shingles is severe pain, the physician may prescribe certain medications such as narcotics, numbing agents like lidocaine cream, acetaminophen, and many more.
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