9 Natural Remedies for Anxiety AttacksShingles (herpes zoster), is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. It is contagious and can cause chickenpox in people who have never had it. Only people who’ve had chickenpox can develop shingles. The virus stays inactive in nerve cells but can be triggered later causing shingles. Approximately one in four people will have one episode of shingles during their life. It isn’t known why the virus reactivates in some people but not others.

Who gets shingles?

You are more likely to get shingles if you:

  • Are aged over 50
  • Have a weakened immune system or other illnesses
  • Are stressed

What are the signs and symptoms of shingles?

Shingles usually affects a specific area on one side of your body. Any part of your body can be affected, including your face and eyes, but the chest and abdomen are the most common areas.

Shingles develops in stages:

  1. BEFORE THE RASH APPEARS (PRODROMAL STAGE)
  • Headache
  • Flu-like symptoms (usually without a fever). You may feel generally unwell for several days before the rash appears.
  • Pain, burning, tingling, and/or numbness in the area around the affected nerves several days or weeks before a rash appears. These sensations are usually felt on the chest or back, but it can occur on the belly, head, face, neck, or one arm or leg.
  • Diarrhea, may develop just before or with the appearance of the rash.
  • Swelling and tenderness of the lymph nodes.
  1. RASH APPEARS (ACTIVE STAGE)
  • A rash appears on one side of the body, the left or right, usually from the middle of your back toward your chest. This occurs because the nerve roots supplying your skin run in pathways on each side of your body. When the virus is reactivated, it travels up the nerve roots to the skin supplied by those specific nerve roots.
  • It may occur on the forehead, cheek, nose. It can also occur and around one eye (herpes zoster ophthalmicus) and can threaten your sight so you should seek prompt medical attention.
  • Blisters form and are similar in appearance to chickenpox. The fluid inside the blisters is clear at first but may become cloudy after 3 or 4 days. They may break open, ooze, and then dry out. Scabs form where the blisters were and may leave some slight scarring and loss of skin pigment.
  • The rash and blisters last about 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Pain occurs along the line of the rash. This band of pain and rash is the clearest sign of shingles. The rash is more painful than itchy.
  • The pain may be constant, dull or a burning sensation. You may experience sharp intermittent stabbing pains. The intensity of the pain can be mild to severe. The affected skin may feel tender.
  1. CHRONIC PAIN STAGE (POSTHERPETIC NEURALGIA)
  • Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is the most common complication of shingles. 1 in 10 people get post-herpetic neuralgia. This severe nerve pain lasts for at least 30 days and may continue for months or years.
  • You may experience aching, burning, or stabbing pain in the area that was affected by the shingles rash.
  • The pain associated with PHN most commonly affects the forehead or chest. This pain may make eating, sleeping, and carrying out daily activities. It may also lead to depression.
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch.

 

Seek medical advice if:

  • You suspect you have shingles. You can be prescribed antiviral drugs in the early stages which can shorten the course of the infection.
  • You have shingles rash near your eye.
  • Infection develops. Signs include: redness, swelling, pus in the blisters, fever. Antibiotics can help halt the spread of bacterial infection.

 

Early treatment of shingles can help reduce the severity of your signs and symptoms of shingles and the further risk of developing complications. If you have signs and symptoms of shingles listed above, you should contact your doctor so treatment can begin.