Understanding Shingles

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Shingles is a widespread disease that yearly afflicts more than a million people and is more prevalent among the older people, so it is about time that people should know more about what the disease is all about. Shingles is caused by a herpes virus (Varicella zoster virus) and appears as painful rashes in the skin. The virus remains and lay passive in the body, and as the immune system becomes deficient with age reactivates as a disease that we know as shingles.

Shingles is a contagious disease and persons who have not yet experienced the disease are especially vulnerable to it. It will then appear in the children as chickenpox and after the symptoms have been treated, the victim can no longer catch the disease from others but will still be susceptible to shingles later. The first signs of shingles could be sensitive skin and burning pain. It will be diagnosed only after rashes begin to appear in the skin after a few days or weeks. Shingles will look as small blisters in the midst of a background of reddish skin. The blisters will multiply in number until treatment.

As soon as you the notice the appearance of shingles, you should immediately see a doctor for treatment. She’ll likely prescribe a drug that attacks viruses such as Zovirax, Famvir or Valtrex. These drugs can diminish the harshness of the outbreak and also lessen the time period of the eruption. She may also prescribe a medication for pain and a non-steroidial anti-inflammatory drug.

The skin affected by shingles should be washed regularly with soap and water. For additional treatments, you can buy from drugstores cold packs and lotions like calamine and aluminum acetate solution to dry the blisters. After the blisters burst and crust over, shingles is no longer contagious.

Shingles have no after effect unless the blisters are infected, in which case there will be a reddening of the skin, and it will feel warm and tender. You will notice that there will be smudges out of the wound. As soon as the symptom appears, the patient should see a doctor and seek treatment for possible infection. Another, uncommon, complication is when shingles affects your eyes and could lead to loss of vision. The most common complication of shingles is postherpetic neuralgia and happens if nerve pain continues even after the disappearance of the rash. Although the pain may be excruciating for a time, postherpetic neuralgia can be treated with a variety of medications. Ramsay Hunt syndrome is another complication, but very rare. This syndrome occurs when the cranial nerves are involved in the outbreak of shingles and you may experience weakness in the facial muscles and possible loss of hearing.

The VZV virus should not be confused with the virus in the sexually transmitted disease (genital herpes) as well as in the mouth sores. You will not get sick with shingles after you have chickenpox, but the herpes zoster virus will lay dormant and will come to life in your old age. If you suspect that shingles is a possibility, you should get yourself vaccinated in order to minimize the risk of getting the disease or at least mitigate its seriousness.

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