Herpes zoster (shingles or shingles) is an infectious disease that affects the nerves and skin, is caused by herpes virus type 3, the same as chickenpox.
This disorder causes a sharp pain and a rash along the skin strip where the nerve is hit. Symptoms usually go away within 2-4 weeks. Sometimes the pain persists even after the rash has disappeared, most often in people over 50 years of age.
Other complications are rare.
Your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medicine to reduce the severity of the disease.
Herpes zoster is an infection of a nerve and the area of skin innervated by the nerve.
It is caused by a virus called varicella zoster because it is the same virus that causes chicken pox.
Anyone who has had chickenpox in the past can develop herpes zoster.
Herpes zoster is very different from genital herpes that is caused by different viruses and is called herpes simplex (simple).
About one in five people suffer from herpes zoster in life.
It can occur at any age but is more common in people over 50 years. It is not uncommon to develop shingles more than once, but the relapse happens once in every fifty.
Among the most affected areas are the face, breasts (intercostal nerves), gluteus and legs.
- 1 Herpes Zoster or Coverage Causes
- 2 Symptoms of Herpes Zoster or Zone
- 3 Diagnosis of herpes zoster or area
- 4 Is Shingles Contagious?
- 5 Herpes zoster complications
- 6 Treatment for Herpes Zoster or Coverage
- 7 Antidepressants and anticonvulsants
- 8 Steroid drugs or cortisone
- 9 Natural Remedies for Shroud or Area
- 10 How long it takes? The prognosis
Herpes Zoster or Coverage Causes
Most people have chicken pox in their lives (usually as a child).
The virus is not completely expelled after you have had chicken pox.
Some virus particles remain inactive in nerve roots near the spinal cord.
These do not cause damage and cause no symptoms.
For reasons that are not yet clear, the virus may begin to multiply again (reactivation).
This process occurs many times many years later.
The reactivated virus travels along the nerve to the skin and causes shingles.
In most cases, an episode of herpes zoster occurs for no apparent reason.
Sometimes a period of stress or a disease looks like it can cause reactivation.
This disorder is more common in older people.
The immune system keeps the virus inactive and prevents multiplication.
A slight weakening of the immune system in the elderly may explain the reactivation of the virus and the multiplication that causes shingles.
This disease is most common in people with a compromised immune system.
For example, shingles often occurs in younger people who have HIV / AIDS or whose immune system is suppressed with treatments such as chemotherapy or steroids .
Symptoms of Herpes Zoster or Zone
Usually, the virus affects a single nerve on one side of the body. Symptoms occur in the skin area at the nerve endings of that nerve.
In the initial phase, the symptoms are pain and rash.
Occasionally, two or three nerves are affected side by side.
The most frequently involved nerves are those that reach the skin of the chest or abdomen.
The upper part of the face (including an eye) is another often-interested place.
The pain is localized and has the course of the nerve.
It can be anywhere on the body, depending on the nerve that is affected.
The intensity of the pain can vary from medium to severe.
The pain can be constant and throbbing, or in severe cases you feel a burning sensationintermittent.
The area of affected skin is usually sore.
Usually, the rash appears 2-3 days after the onset of pain.
The red spots appear quickly and become itchy blisters. The rash is similar to chickenpox, but only in the strip of skin innervated by the affected nerve.
New blisters may appear up to a week after the onset of the pain.
The soft tissues under the skin around the rash may become swollen for a while due to the inflammation caused by the virus.
Then, the vesicles rupture forming a crust that gradually disappears.
A slight scar may remain at the site of the gallbladder.
An episode of herpes zoster usually lasts 3-4 weeks.
In some cases, the rash leaves but the patient does not feel pain. Rarely, there is no rash but only the pain is felt.
You may also have a fever and get sick for a couple of days.
Diagnosis of herpes zoster or area
The doctor can diagnose this disease by looking at the painful area and listening to the patient’s symptoms.
No blood tests or other tests are needed .
Is Shingles Contagious?
Yes, those who have never had chickenpox can be infected by someone with shingles. The incubation period of varicella is about 15 days.
It is not possible to be infected by the herpes zoster virus of someone who has this disease.
The herpes zoster rash is contagious until all the blisters become dry crusts.
Most adults and children over the age of 10 have had chickenpox and are therefore immune.
In addition, if the blisters (vesicles) are covered with a medication, it is unlikely that the virus is transmitted to others.
The transmission occurs only with direct contact in the gallbladder, this virus is not transmitted through the air of a person who has shingles unlike chicken pox.
So, you can go back to work when the blisters become dry, or before if you keep the rash covered and if you feel good.
However, as a general rule, pregnant women who have not had chicken pox should avoid people with shingles.
In addition, those who have a weak immune system should avoid being around people with this disease.
These are the general safety rules, since only direct contact with the rash can usually result in the passage of the virus.
Also, to be safe and not take the risk of passing the virus to people who may not have had chicken pox, you should not share towels, you should not go swimming or practice contact sports like rugby while you have a rash of herpes zoster.
Herpes zoster complications
Most people have no complications.
Listed below are the ones that can occur.
This is the most common complication. It occurs when the pain of the nerve (neuralgia) of herpes zoster persists even after the rash has disappeared.
This problem is rare in people under the age of 50.
However, up to a quarter of people with herpes zoster over 60 years of age have pain for more than a month.
It is more likely to occur in elderly patients.
Usually, the pain gradually subsides.
However, in some people it takes several months or years.
The likelihood of persistence of pain is reduced with treatment.
Herpes zoster ocular can cause an inflammation of the front of the eye.
In more severe cases, they can lead to inflammation and can lead to complete loss of vision.
Sometimes the affected nerve is a motor nerve (which causes contraction of a muscle) and not sensory (sensitivity). This can cause weakness (paralysis) of the innervated muscles.
Other rare complications
For example, infection of the brain or varicella-zoster virus spreads throughout the body.
These complications are very serious but rare.
People with compromised immune systems who develop shingles have a risk of developing rare or severe complications greater than normal.
For example, people with HIV / AIDS , who are undergoing a cycle of chemotherapy, etc.
Treatment for Herpes Zoster or Coverage
- Relieve pain and discomfort during reactivation of the varicella zoster virus.
- Avoid as much as possible the development of post-herpetic neuralgia.
Loose cotton clothing is the best way to reduce the irritation of the affected skin.
Pain can be relieved by applying ice to the affected area (wrapped in a plastic bag) by wetting the dressings with fresh water or taking a cold shower.
A non-tight bandage that covers the rash when the blisters are not yet dry can help reduce the pain caused by contact with clothing.
A little simple cream (emollient) may be helpful if the rash causes itchy skin.
For example, paracetamol alone or in combination with codeine or anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen may give some relief.
More potent analgesics such as oxycodone and tramadol may be needed in certain cases.
medications Antiviral drugs include acyclovir, valacyclovir and famciclovir.
An antiviral drug does not kill the virus, but it blocks the multiplication.
Thus, it limits the severity of the symptoms of the herpes zoster episode.
In the past, antiviral medicines were expected to reduce the risk of persistent pain from post-herpetic neuralgia.
However, the research so far has shown that antiviral medications taken during a herpes zoster episode do not seem to have much impact in preventing this complication.
In this context, further research is needed to determine whether certain groups of patients benefit and whether new antiviral drugs can prevent post-herpetic neuralgia.
An antiviral drug is most useful when taken in the early stages of shingles, within 72 hours of the rash.
However, in some cases, the doctor may recommend a medicine against the virus, even if the rash is older, especially in older people with severe herpes zoster before 72 hours, or if shingles affects one eye.
Antiviral medications are not recommended for all herpes zoster.
For example, youngsters and children who develop herpes zoster in their abdomen usually have mild symptoms and a lower risk of developing post-herpetic neuralgia.
Therefore, in this situation, an antiviral drug is not necessary.
The doctor should prescribe these medicines if the patient believes they are indicated.
As a general rule, the following groups of people who develop herpes zoster have received the prescription of an antiviral drug:
- If you are over 50 years old. The elderly are at increased risk of developing severe herpes zoster or complications and are more likely to benefit from treatment.
- Regardless of age in the following situations:
- At the level of the head the herpes zoster affects the eye or the ear.
- A compromised immune system.
- Herpes zoster affects all parts of the body in addition to the trunk (ie it affects the arms, legs, neck or genital area).
- Moderate or severe pain.
- Moderate or severe rash.
If a course of antiviral drug therapy is prescribed, it usually lasts for seven days.
Antidepressants and anticonvulsants
If pain during a herpes zoster episode is severe or if you develop post-herpetic neuralgia, your doctor may advise you to take:
A family of tricyclic antidepressants . An antidepressant is not only used to treat depression.
Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, imipramine and nortriptyline give relief from neuralgia (nerve pain), is a distinct effect of its action on depression.
As an anticonvulsant drug such as gabapentin. These alleviate neuralgic pain regardless of seizure control.
If your doctor prescribes an antidepressant or an anticonvulsant, you should take it regularly as recommended.
Medications may need two or more weeks to be fully effective against pain.
In addition to relieving discomfort during an episode of herpes zoster, it may also help prevent post-herpetic neuralgia.
Steroid drugs or cortisone
Cortisone helps to reduce inflammation. A short period of steroid tablets (prednisone) may be considered together with an antiviral drug.
This medicine helps reduce pain and accelerates the healing of the rash. However, the use of cortisone in shingles is controversial, you should follow the instructions of your doctor. The steroids do not prevent post-herpetic neuralgia.
Natural Remedies for Shroud or Area
Food is essential to combat any kind of infection and inflammation, we recommend natural anti-inflammatories .
You can apply a little tea tree oil over the sore area as this substance is an excellent antiviral.
Physical therapy can help cure faster with laser treatment that does not cause side effects if the patient has no contraindications.
Some people make themselves “mark” the painful area, it is a method where a person says some sentences out loud, making movements with their hands without touching the affected area. This therapy is not scientifically proven.
How long it takes? The prognosis
After the onset of symptoms for full recovery usually takes about a month, the recovery time may be shorter with appropriate therapies.