About shingles

What is shingles?

Shingles is a medical condition that is caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox-causing virus in the body. Shingles are extremely painful but it isn’t life-threatening. 

  • Shingles is a painful rash that occurs anywhere on the body for a single stripe of blisters. Moreover, it usually arises either on the left or right side of the main parts of the body that contains the chest, abdomen, pelvis, and back. 
  • It is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. A similar virus that causes chickenpox. 
  • If a person had chickenpox in his life span he may develop this infection. Accordingly, after chickenpox, similar viruses remain inactive in the nerve tissue near the spinal cord and brain for years. However, after a long span, this virus may activate as shingles.
  • Vaccines can reduce the risk of having shingles.
  • Shingle infection can be reduced and managed easily if the treatments start early. Postherpetic neuralgia (shingles pain after the shingles get clear) is the most common complication caused by shingles.
  • Not everyone who catches chickenpox develops shingles. It is more prone to people with low immunity and old age.
  • A person with shingles can also pass the virus to anyone who hasn’t been immune to chickenpox. 



What are the symptoms for shingles?

The symptoms and signs of shingles usually affect a small section of one side of the body.

symptoms of shingles:

  • Fever: it is an early symptom of shingles. A person developing shingles may experience a rise in body temperature.
  • Chills: the person may experience a shivering sensation.
  • Headache: the person will experience pain in different parts of the head along with tiredness.
  • Sensitivity to touch: the victim experiences pain in the affected area of the body while touching. Sometimes the person also undergoes pain, burning, and numbness or tingling.
  • Upset stomach: it is also an early symptom the person might go through stomach pain or problem digesting food. 
  • Red rash: the body will develop some area with a red Rash that causes pain and itching.
  • Blister break: the painful area may develop raised red pimples or dots on the skin that are sensitive to touch.
  • The fluid-filled blisters that burst open and crust over may result in shingles after some time. 
  • Muscle weakness, enlarged lymph nodes, upset stomach, and eye problems, are other symptoms of shingles.

List of conditions:

  • A person develops a painful blister on the body due to the reactivation of chicken causing virus, varicella-zoster.
  • Shingles are a painful Rash that sometimes causes postherpetic neuralgia that can last for months or years after the Rash goes away. 



What are the causes for shingles?

Shingles is a viral infection caused by the virus varicella-zoster. It leads to the outbreak of painful rash or blisters on the skin. It is not life-threatening but pretty painful.

Causes of shingles:

  • Shingles is mainly caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus responsible for chickenpox.
  • An individual gone through chickenpox may develop shingles. After recovery, the virus finds its way to nervous tissue near the spinal cord and backbone and after years it may rise as shingles.
  • Not every individual gone through chickenpox will suffer from shingles.
  • The reason behind the shingle is a blur. However, it usually results in people having weaker immunity to fight disease and old age people.
  • Shingles is also known as herpes zoster as it belongs to the group of viruses called herpes viruses, which includes the viruses that cause genital herpes and cold sores. 
  • A shingles victim can affect anyone with chickenpox if he/she has been the victim of it. So, a person with shingles should avoid physical contact with anyone who hasn't yet had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, especially people with weakened immune systems, newborns, and pregnant women.



What are the treatments for shingles?

Shingles is not a deadly disease but it causes a lot of pain, itching, and burning sensation which can be treated with certain medications.

Treatments for shingles:

  • Antiviral medication: Since it is a viral infection, the doctor will prescribe an antiviral oral or injected medication to relieve you from shingles. Acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir are recommended antivirals that will reduce pain and speed recovery.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs: Shingles cause a burning sensation and pain anti-inflammatory drugs are advised to control swelling and ease the pain.
  • Narcotic medications: They are prescribed to reduce pain. These are either consumed orally or through injection.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: Shingles can result in a really painful infection. An anticonvulsant is advised by a doctor to curb prolonged pain.
  • Antihistamines: These medications are used to reduce the itching of the affected area and are usually consumed orally. 
  • Numbing cream: Gels or patches, such as lidocaine are used to treat the affected area. These are topical medicines that will speed up the recovery and reduce the pain.
  • Capsaicin: It is also a topical medicine that is applied as per the required quantity. These are used to reduce the risk of nerve pain, which may occur after recovering from shingles.



What are the risk factors for shingles?

Shingles are not a deadly disease but can cause outrageous pain to the affected area. Any disease can trigger a person with weak immunity. The chicken pox-causing virus finds its way back to affect a person with shingles.

The risk factors associated with shingles are:

  • Age: this viral infection usually triggers people over the age of 50 years. Moreover, with increasing age, the natural cell immunity declines, which leads the virus to affect faster.
  • HIV/AIDS: Immunodeficiency diseases increase the risk of catching shingles. People with AIDS/HIV are likely to catch such viral infections.
  • A chronic medical condition: requires constant radiation or chemotherapy that can bring down your resistance to illnesses and may trigger shingles.
  • Medications that suppress immunity: some medicines designed for the prevention of organ rejection suppress the immune response. Moreover, prolonged use of steroids, such as prednisone, can also result in the same.
  • Cancer: A chronic medical condition like cancer can increase the risk for shingles as this chronic disease triggers immunity, and the virus finds its way for reactivation.
  • Diabetes: diabetes triggers our immune system and reduces its intensity in fighting disease. This can increase the risk of getting triggered by a viral infection like shingles.



Is there a cure/medications for shingles?

Shingles are a medical condition that leads to a painful blister on either the left or right side of the torso. It has a cure and medication that can gradually fade this viral infection from the body.

Cure or medication for shingles:

  • Acupuncture: in some cases, acupuncture doesn’t provide relief from the pain and discomfort but consult your doctor before going for such treatment.
  • TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation): is a medical therapy that includes tiny electrical pulses to reduce pain. An electrical patch is applied to the affected area to ease the pain.
  • Antiviral medication: is prescribed by the doctor to fight this infection as the main cause is the virus. Antivirals like Acyclovir, Famciclovir, and Valacyclovir are prescribed by a medical expert to reduce the effect of shingles.
  • Painkillers: since shingles cause a painful rash, a doctor must recommend painkillers like Ibuprofen and Naproxen to ease pain symptoms.
  • A numbing cream: is applied to the affected area in the required quantity to speed the recovery. The formulation may come in a variety of forms like cream, spray, powder, gel, etc.
  • Home remedies: there isn’t any home remedy that can heal shingles. However, keeping the affected area clean, dry, and open can speed up the recovery. 

List of conditions:

  • A person develops a painful blister on the body due to the reactivation of the chickenpox-causing virus, varicella-zoster.
  • Shingles are painful rash that sometimes causes postherpetic neuralgia that can last for months or years after the rash goes away. 

List of symptoms:

  • Pain burning and numbness on the skin
  • Itching
  • Red rash on the skin
  • Sensitivity to touch

List of drugs:

  • Antiviral- Acyclovir, Famciclovir, Valacyclovir
  • Painkillers: Naproxen, Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen
  • Numbing medicine: lidocaine



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