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Shingles

We look at Shingles images, photos and pictures along with information on if the Shingles is contagious, causes, symptoms and treatment in this article.

Shingles is brought forth when the virus causing chickenpox becomes active again. It causes painful bands of blisters on the chest and back. Yet, it could also appear on the face and other parts of the body. People suffering from this kind of skin disease have been found to have weak immune system and in constant stress. It is not likely to occur in individuals who haven’t had chickenpox.

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Treatment for shingles helps the affected individual deal with the annoying symptoms. It also shortens the duration of the disease and reduces the odds of developing complications. The disease could be treated using antiviral medicines. Vaccines may also be given to reduce the effects of the disease or prevent it from occurring.

Are Shingles Contagious ?

A person may suffer from this form of skin disease if he/she has had chickenpox. Shingles or herpes zoster occurs when the virus that causes chickenpox, the varicella zoster virus, becomes active again. An individual can catch this virus through direct contact with fluids oozing from the blisters. It is not possible to contract herpes zoster without suffering from chickenpox first. During the initial exposure to varicella zoster virus (VZV), a person can develop chickenpox. The virus will remain dormant in the nerve roots for some time, or even forever. It is not clear what causes the VZV to reactivate but experts are looking at the following factors as possibilities:

  • Stress
  • Certain diseases like cancer and AIDS
  • Certain medications

These things can greatly affect one’s immunity and a weakened immune system makes one more susceptible to herpes zoster. The disease is extremely contagious and the affected individual could infect people who have not had chickenpox.

Symptoms of Shingles

The affected person will initially complain about headache and light sensitivity as well as flu-like symptoms. Some tingling and itching sensation on either side of the chest and back, and sometimes around the face may also be present. Small bands of rashes may become visible in these areas which will later develop into bands of painful blisters. The blisters may crust over after a couple of weeks or more and leave scars once healed.

The patient should consider seeing the doctor if the following symptoms are experienced:

  • Skin rashes that spread out extensively
  • Rashes occurring around the eye
  • Intensely painful rashes
  • Vision changes
  • Dizziness

Who will most likely suffer from Shingles?

People who had chickenpox will likely suffer from herpes zoster.

  • Those who are over 50 years old

Advance age increases the odds of developing herpes zoster, especially if the person already had chickenpox during childhood.

  • Those who are receiving cancer treatments

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy significantly lowers the immunity of the individual which makes a favorable environment for the VZV’s reactivation.

  • Those who suffer from certain diseases

Cancer and HIV compromise one’s immunity, thereby increasing the chances of herpes zoster.

  • Those who are taking maintenance medications

Long term use of steroid medications could trigger the VZV to become active again. This will likely occur in individuals who have transplanted organs.

What does diagnosis of Shingles involve?

Herpes zoster diagnosis simply involves a careful evaluation of the visible manifestations, like rashes and blisters, and the patient’s medical history. The doctor may request for tissue culture or scraping to rule out secondary skin infection. Shingles should not be ignored as it may lead to further complications, such as:

  • Chronic neuralgia
  • Postherpetic neuralgia
  • Pneumonia
  • Vision loss
  • Hearing loss
  • Blood infection or sepsis
  • Encephalitis
  • Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
  • Skin infections
  • Organ dysfunction
  • Death

People who seek immediate treatment normally have better prognosis. The disease often lasts up to 4 weeks and a person will only have it once. However, some people may still experience some painful sensation on the affected area for months or years even if the blisters have healed. This is caused by damaged nerves during the outbreak.

How is Shingles treated?

Herpes zoster is way painful than chickenpox, so treatment is extremely essential to help patients manage the pain and other symptoms that come with it. Besides, treatment likewise prevents the disease from aggravating which results in the emergence of complications. Shingles treatment could involve the following:

  • Antivirus medicines

Mild to moderately affected individuals could take the pill form of antivirus medicines. However, this will be given intravenously for severely affected individuals.

  • Pain relievers

Pain relievers given to shingles sufferers are the same medications used in treating other medical conditions like epilepsy and depression.

It may not yet be fully understood why VZV reactivates, but several things can be done to keep it at bay. One is by getting vaccinated for herpes zoster which significantly reduces the likelihood of developing serious complications due to the virus. Proper stress management is also crucial for overall wellness. Shingles could lead to life-threatening conditions, so it should be addressed properly and promptly.

Shingles Images

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