What is SHINGLES?
Shingles is a painful skin rash. It is caused by the varicella zoster virus. Shingles usually appears in a band, a strip, or a small area on one side of the face or body. It is also called herpes zoster.
Shingles is most common in older adults and people who have weak immune systems because of stress, injury, certain medicines, or other reasons. Most people who get shingles will get better and will not get it again. But it is possible to get shingles more than once.
Shingles occurs when the virus that causes chickenpox starts up again in your body. After you get better from chickenpox, the virus "sleeps" (is dormant) in your nerve roots. In some people, it stays dormant forever. In others, the virus "wakes up" when disease, stress, or aging weakens the immune system. Some medicines may trigger the virus to wake up and cause a shingles rash. It is not clear why this happens. But after the virus becomes active again, it can only cause shingles, not chickenpox.
You can't catch shingles from someone else who has shingles. But there is a small chance that a person with a shingles rash can spread the virus to another person who hasn't had chickenpox.
Shingles symptoms happen in stages. At first you may have a headache or be sensitive to light. You may also feel like you have the flu but not have a fever. Later, you may feel itching, tingling, or pain in a certain area. That's where a band, strip, or small area of rash may occur a few days later. The rash turns into clusters of blisters. The blisters fill with fluid and then crust over. It takes 2 to 4 weeks for the blisters to heal, and they may leave scars. Some people only get a mild rash. And some do not get a rash at all.
It's possible that you could also feel dizzy or weak. Or you could have long-term pain or a rash on your face, changes in your vision, changes in how well you can think, or a rash that spreads. If you have any of these problems from shingles, call your doctor right away.
1 in every 4 people who get Shingles will experience 1 or more complications. For some people, Shingles can lead to potentially serious complications.
Here are the most common ones.
Bacterial infections. A Shingles rash can increase your risk for a bacterial infection on the skin.
Long-term pain. Although the pain of Shingles usually lessens as the rash heals, in some cases the pain can last for months or even years. This long-term nerve pain is called postherpetic neuralgia, or PHN. The risk of developing PHN increases as you get older.
PHN pain can range from a tender, burning, or throbbing sensation to a stabbing or shooting pain. Or, it can cause mild discomfort that lasts for a few months.
Permanent scarring. Sometimes, in severe cases of Shingles, a person can end up with permanent scarring.
Ophthalmic Shingles is a term for Shingles that occurs in or around the eye. People who have it can suffer from painful eye infections, and in some cases, immediate or delayed vision impairment. If you have Shingles in or near your eye, you should see an eye doctor immediately.
Ramsay Hunt syndrome.
Shingles infections inside or near the ear can cause a complication called Ramsay Hunt syndrome. This is a rare disorder in which facial nerves become paralyzed. Ramsay Hunt syndrome can cause hearing and balance problems, as well as weakness of the muscles on the affected side of the face.
What is postherpetic neuralgia?
PHN causes pain on and around the area of skin that was affected by the shingles rash. The pain is mild or moderate in most cases. However, the pain is severe in some cases.
The pain is usually a constant, burning, or gnawing pain. In addition to, or instead of this, you may have sharp or stabbing pains that come and go. The affected area of skin is often very sensitive. Even slight touch may cause pain, such as the rubbing of clothes or a draught of air on the affected area. You may also have reduced sensation to touch, and be itchy over the affected area.
Shingles around the eye area requires immediate medical attention.
This picture shows the typical 'band' that shingles forms.
These blisters can be painful and can result in severe scarring.
Some children also get shingles but it is more prevalent in people over 50.
Cross section through the skin showing how shingles develops.
Treatment of Shingles
Neurofast soothes the nerves and relieves the pain sensation.
Derma Kure Wound Spray offers immediate relief from the burning, stinging sensation on the skin.
Derma Kure Cream keeps the skin moist and promotes healing of the blisters while reducing scarring.