Published on Jan 29, 2018 and last reviewed on Sep 07, 2018 - 2 min read
This article talks about shingles, a viral infection, how it is caused, its symptoms, and how it can be prevented.
Shingles also called as herpes zoster, is an infection of the nerve caused by varicella-zoster virus, the same virus which causes chickenpox. When the virus first attacks a person, it manifests as chickenpox. After the chickenpox infection has run its course, the virus stays dormant (passive) in the nerves close to the spinal cord. After a few years or decades, when certain conditions (like low immunity) makes the conditions favorable, the virus gets reactivated to cause another disease known as Shingles.
When the virus is in the active stage, the varicella-zoster can spread from one person to another. Then there are two possibilities:
1. either the person is already immune/ vaccinated against chickenpox which means he is safe, or
2. he has not had natural immunity (chickenpox disease) or vaccination against it. In this case, he can get chickenpox and not shingles as it is his first exposure.
- A stripe of red rash.
- Fluid-filled blisters.
- Stinging pain.
Shingles is caused by varicella zoster virus which causes chickenpox as well. So, this means only those who previously had chickenpox disease or the vaccine can get shingles.
The risk of getting herpes zoster increases with age, especially over the age of 50.
2. Poor immunity:
A weakened immune system due to HIV/AIDS, cancer, chemotherapy, taking immunosuppresive agents after organ transplantation, and prolonged use of steroids.
Two vaccines are helpful here - Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine and shingles (varicella zoster) vaccine.
Chickenpox vaccine is reccomended if you are not already vaccinated for chickenpox or never had the chickenpox disease.
Varicella vaccine is recommneded for the elderly who are prone to shingles.
Sometimes, shingles can cause complications such as postherpetic neuralgia, meaning nerve pain that lasts several months.
Diagnosis of shingles is based on the visual examination of the characteristic band of fluid-filled blisters and medical history of chickenpox.
There is no cure for shingles and treatment primarily involves the management of pain and itching. Antivirals such as Acyclovir, Famciclovir, and Valacyclovir are prescribed in certain circumstances to reduce pain and speed up the healing process. Symptomatic relief can be obtained with the following steps.
For more information consult a shingles specialist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/dermatologist/shingles
Query: Hi doctor, I am 21 years old. My weight is 48 kg. I am 3 months 2 weeks pregnant. Now, I got chickenpox. I am very anxious about the adverse affect for my baby. I have visited a gynecologist and she suggested me to get abortion. Please clarify me the right step. Read Full »
Query: Hi doctor,I am a 34 year old female. It started with two days of fever and body pain. I developed blisters and spots. My doctor diagnosed it as chickenpox. I have a few red spots and blisters on my face. I am taking Acivir 400 DT thrice, Azithromycin once daily and Cetirizine 10. I am also applying... Read Full »
Do you have a question on Chickenpox or Shingles?Ask a Doctor Online