Dermatology
Shingles
​Overview:
  • Shingles and chickenpox are caused by the varicella-zoster virus, yet they are different.
  • Chickenpox vaccine can help reduce the risk of shingles.
  • Call your doctor if you see rashes or blisters near your eye.
  • Old age and weak immune system are key risk factors.
  • There is currently no treatment for shingles, but some medications can ease symptoms and reduce complications.
 
Introduction:
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of your torso. While it isn't a life-threatening condition, shingles can be very painful. Shingles typically resolves within 2-6 weeks
It may appear in children, yet it is most common among adults, especially old people.
 
Other Known Names:
herpes zoster, zona, belt of fire, zoster.
 
Causes:
  • Shingles and chickenpox are caused by the varicella-zoster virus. After you recover from chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in your nerve roots for years. On other cases, the virus may wake up and cause Shingles.
  • It is not clear why the virus is triggered to wake up, reproduce and attack the nerve roots.
 
Symptoms:

The signs and symptoms of shingles usually affect only a small section of one side of your body, which may include:

  • Pain, burning, numbness or tingling.
  • Sensitivity to touch.
  • Fever and headache.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Rashes with blisters on the left or right of the body
  • Rashes around one eye or on one side of the neck.
  • Fluid-filled blisters.
 
When you must see a doctor?
  • When have rashes or pain near your eye or it can cause permanent eye damage.
  • When you are 60 years old or more; the older you are, the more complications you suffer.
  • When your immune system is weak (due to cancer or medications for chronic diseases).
  • When you have painful skin rash.
 
Diagnosis:
  • Medical history.
  • Clinical Diagnosis.
  • A skin sample for lab test.
 
Risk Factor:
  • Chickenpox infection.
  • Old age.
  • Radiation or chemotherapy.
  • Diseases that weaken your immune system, such as HIV/AIDS and cancer, etc.
  • Drugs designed to prevent rejection of transplanted organs.
Complications:
  • Postherpetic neuralgia: pain continues after blisters have cleared.
  • Vision loss.
  • Neurological problems, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and facial paralysis.
  • Skin infections.
  •  Ramsay Hunt syndrome.
 
Treatment:

There is currently no treatment for shingles, but some medications can ease symptoms and reduce complications:

  • Medicines for pain.
  • Antiviral medicines.
 
Prevention:
  • Chickenpox vaccine can help reduce the risk of shingles.
  • Guidelines to prevent viral infection:
  • Cover skin rash with clothes.
  • Do not share clothes with others.
  • Do not touch infected skin.
  • Avoid persons who did not have chickenpox, especially pregnant women, new born babies and those with immune deficiency.
Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is Shingles Contagious?
    • Yes, someone who has never had chickenpox can develop chickenpox following exposure to someone with Shingles, or when someone touches the blisters.
  • Is Shingles dangerous to fetus during pregnancy?
    • No. However, you better consult your doctor for medication to ensure safety.
 
Misconceptions:
  • Only old people get it: Over 50% of shingles cases are in people over the age of 60. Everyone is at risk for developing shingles, including children. Another factor that greatly increases the chances of shingles is having a weakened immune system.
  • Shingles is the same as chickenpox: Though shingles and chickenpox are caused by the varicella-zoster virus, they are different.

 

 
 
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