Herpes Zoster or Shingles

Herpes Zoster will present itself as a rash with blisters on your skin.  It is caused by chickenpox that you probably had when you were younger.  The chickenpox has been dormant in your body for years and was triggered and released.  What caused your outbreak could have been many things.

Shingles will start out as a burning pain and your skin will be very sensitive, it can be numb at first also.  It will show up on one side of your body.  After a few days and sometimes it may take up to a week, the blisters will start to show.  They will look similar to chickenpox, but they will only be on one side of your body.   herpes zoster

The site of the blisters is also called a dermatome, it is a band that will span one side of your waist.  Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk to get shingles.  A common trait with the herpes virus is that it will move into the nervous system and go dormant after an attack.  When it reactivates the virus moves down the nerve fibers toward the skin.  As this happens the virus multiplies and the rash occurs.  You now have herpes zoster or shingles.

How long does it last?

The length of a shingles attack is usually around 3 weeks to a month.  Only one nerve is usually involved, but there are cases of multi nerve outbreaks.  The blisters will break eventually and the area will ooze for awhile.  It will soon crust over and start to heal.  There are cases where the pain was evident, but the rash never occurred.  This can be very confusing for the person.

Can Shingles be treated?

There are treatments for herpes zoster that have been approved by the FDA.  It is called Zostavax and up until 2011 it was only given to people who were over 60 years of age.  It is now approved for people over 50.  Taking the vaccine has seen a huge drop in adults getting shingles outbreaks.  You have to remember that the vaccine is only for prevention and is not a cure for the herpes zoster virus.

A person who has the shingles rash can pass the virus to others including children who have not had chickenpox.  Children who are exposed will not get shingles, they will get chickenpox.  There is still much not known about what causes the shingles virus to activate.  But with wide cases of people who have cancer falling victim and other people who’s immune systems are broke down getting the outbreaks.  We can assume that a healthy, stress free body is the key to keeping herpes zoster at bay.

3 Responses to “Herpes Zoster or Shingles”

  1. Henry J says:

    I never realized chickenpox that I had as a child has led to my shingles. Thank you for the informative article.

  2. Nitish Kumar Mondal says:

    Dear Sir,
    Please take my hyper-respect. I am a very needy student from Bangladesh. My father is seriously affected by this virus (Herpes Zoster). The affected place is dried ((after suffering three months) but pain is permanent. Would you please how I can remove his acute pain by home treatment? I am waiting for your message from the core of my heart.

    May God Bless You
    Kind Regards

    • Randi Heick says:

      Nitish, I can relate to this on a smaller level as my mom and a close friend have experienced shingles. It can be very painful. As far as the pain being permanent, that just sounds awful. Not sure how your father is coping, as the pain is so terrible. If you contact me via the contact page on my site, link should be at the bottom of the page, I will give you some ways to hopefully help your father with his pain. Take care.

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