Shingles is caused by very contagious “herpes zoster” virus. It is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Rash can be extremely painful. It affects one side if a body spreading like a band.
After chickenpox infection, the virus stays "asleep" in the body, but due to different reasons it wakes up and causes shingles.
Infected individuals should avoid people who never had shingles or chickenpox vaccine and pregnant women.
Initially shingles cause nagging, burning, tingling or itching sensation of the skin. After 1-2 days, fluid filled vesicles appear. Person with wet blisters is extremely infectious. Pain may be mild or severe. Before blisters dry and become crusted, they may form ulcers. It is important not to touch rash caused by shingles. Usually, the rash scabs over and starts to heal within 10-12 days.
Shingles can cause neuropathic pain called postherpetic neuralgia. PHN may lasts for months and years after shingles resolution.
Healthcare professionals use antiviral medications and may also add corticosteroids, neuropathic pain medications and topical numbing creams. Shingles may also cause eye infections or serious problems with the brain or nerves.
Currently there are 2 vaccines that are available for adults over 50 years. Vaccines can prevent shingles or decrease severity of the symptoms in infected individual.