Varicella-zoster is the virus that causes shingles and is also responsible for chickenpox. After causing chickenpox, it can stay in your nerves quietly but can suddenly become active. A painful rash on the side of your face or body is a major symptom of shingles. If you suspect that you may have this condition, you should see a doctor as quickly as possible. A history of feeling pain on one side of the body is usually the basis for shingles diagnosis. The doctor may take a tissue sample from the blisters for further examination in a lab.
The virus responsible for shingles can be transmitted from one person to another by direct contact with fluid from an active blistering rash. Therefore, susceptible individuals should avoid those with active shingles, especially immune-compressed individuals and pregnant women who have had chickenpox before. Shingles cannot be transmitted by sneezing, coughing, or before the appearance of blisters. After the rash dries and crusting develops, it is not contagious.
Shingles start with tingling, burning, itching, or stinging on the region that the rash will develop. This pain could be severe sometimes; hence individuals may complain about their skin extremely sensitive. This discomfort usually occurs several days before the rash develops. Individuals may also experience symptoms such as; malaise, headache, fever and chills, nausea, swollen lymph nodes, and body ache. The characteristic rash appears a few days after the discomfort, and it usually begins as small red patches, which eventually develop into blisters. The fluid-filled blisters then break open, and the sores start to dry slowly. After several weeks, the crust falls off, and the shingles rash clears up in two to four weeks. Skin scarring and discoloration are possible if there was a severe rash.
Although shingles can only occur in people who have had chickenpox, there are several risk factors for its development. They include:
- Increasing age: Shingles is more common in older people than children. This is because as people age, their immune systems become weaker. This is why 50% of cases occur in adults above the age of sixty.
- Weakened immune systems: People who have an impaired immune system are at a higher risk of developing shingles. This is seen in individuals with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or patients that are under certain medications.
Emotional and psychological stressors can also contribute to the development of shingles due to the detrimental effects that shingles has on a person`s immune system and health.
Shingles is mainly diagnosed by a family practitioner, internist, or pediatrician. For individuals that develop complications, a specialist in neurology, ophthalmology, or infectious diseases might be involved. Since shingles is a viral disease, it cannot be cured entirely. The treatment is aimed at pain management and diminishing the effects brought on by the virus. Several medications can be used. Your doctor recommends the best options for your situation. The majority of the cases can be managed from home. In some cases, individuals with complications or severe symptoms and weak immune systems may have to be hospitalized.
Medications that are used to combat viral infections can be used against shingles. Anti-viral drugs help decrease the severity of the disease, shorten the duration of the disease and hasten the skin healing process. They also prevent the complications encountered sometimes with shingles. Anti-virals are most effective if started within the first three days after the rash has appeared. Pain medication may be used to relieve the discomfort that is caused by the rash. For individuals with mild pain, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs or analgesics may be what is required. EmuaidMAX is an effective ointment for shingles, judging by the exceptional EmuaidMAX reviews for shingles. Individuals with severe pain may require stronger pain medication. Antihistamine medication may help alleviate localized itching.
There are several self-care tips for shingles. The top priority is finding relief for the itching and pain caused by the rash. They include finding the best topical ointment for shingles, oatmeal baths, cold compresses, wearing loose clothing, sticking to good habits, and distracting yourself. Though most people experience shingles only once in their lifetime, recurrence might occur in some individuals. There is a vaccine people receive to prevent the recurrence of a shingles episode.