Shingles is a type of viral infection. The shingles virus produces a painful rash that often occurs as blisters that wrap around the left or right side of the trunk. The virus that is responsible for developing chickenpox is also what causes shingles. After a person has been infected with chickenpox, the virus remains inactive in the body. The virus may become active again in the form of shingles. The shingles virus can be very painful. There are vaccines available that can help reduce the risk of developing shingles. There are also treatments available that can shorten the duration of a shingles infection and help to reduce the chance of complications developing.
The symptoms of shingles often affect a particular section of one side of the body. Common symptoms of shingles include:
- Sensitivity to the touch
- A red rash
- Blisters that are filled with fluid that burst and crust over
- A headache
- Eyes become sensitive to light
The initial symptom of shingles is often pain which may be severe. Some people who develop shingles will never experience some symptoms including a rash. It is important to see your doctor if you believe that you may be suffering from shingles especially if you are 60 or older, if you have a weakened immune system, or if the infection occurs near the eye.
Shingles is often diagnosed based the symptoms it presents. The most tell-tale symptom is the rash. The doctor may also take a culture of the blisters to test in the laboratory.
Shingles is caused by a virus. If a person has had chicken pox, they may develop shingles later in life. The virus can remain in the nervous system and stay dormant for years. Shingles is more common in the elderly and those who have weakened immune systems.
The shingles virus can be transmitted to anyone who does not have immunity towards chickenpox. Direct contact with sores that are open of the shingles rash is the most common way of transferring the virus. Shingles is contagious until the blisters scab over and are healing.
There are two vaccines available that may help to prevent shingles. These vaccines do not guarantee that you will not get the disease but can reduce the duration and severity of the virus.
There is no cure for shingles, but there are prescription antiviral drugs available that can reduce the risk of complications. These prescription medications can also reduce symptoms of the virus and can speed up healing. Certain creams and lotions may also help to numb the skin to stop itching and pain. Shingles generally lasts two weeks but can last up to six weeks. Most people will get shingles one time, but it is possible to get it more than once.
There are many home remedies that can help to alleviate the symptoms of shingles including cool baths, using wet compresses, and getting lots of rest.
The articles on this website should not be used to start the use of dietary supplements or vitamins, natural or herbal products, homeopathic medicine or other mentioned products prior to a proper consultation with a doctor or certified health provider.