What are shingles?

Herpes Zoster, also known as Shingles, is a painful skin disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person has been infected with chickenpox in early childhood, the virus remains inactive in the person’s body yet viable (Boston Public Health Commission, 2018). The disease affects your nerves, causing tingling, burning, itching, and shooting pain (National institute of aging, 2018). It can also cause blisters and rashes.

How does it occur?

The evidence of the disease was traced by the scientist a few centuries ago. Because of the similarities of the skin lesions produced by it and smallpox, people confused it with smallpox disease. However, in the mid 18th centaury, people started recognizing the difference between the two skin lesions (Wallmann, 2011). The scientist concluded at that start of the 20th century that the same virus is responsible for chickenpox and Herpes Zoster.

Who does it affect?

shingles-reoccurrenceThe primary varicella-zoster is mostly symptomatic. The second episode of chickenpox is less common if the child was under one during its first chickenpox episode. The primary infection caused by varicella is benign but contagious. Herpes Zoster is not infectious by the reactivation of the virus present in our nerve cells. However, a person who has never been exposed to the varicella-zoster virus can catch it from the individual suffering from it.

The disease, without any seasonal variation, can occur both among women and men equally. However, the unvaccinated children are most prone to catch the infectious varicella-zoster virus from someone suffering it. In this case, the VZ virus would not produce the disease and instead would cause chickenpox (American Academy Of Family Physicians, 2011). The risk of having the disease increases when a person gets old. The majority of the cases are seen among women and men above 60 years. However, if a person is vaccinated correctly, then they are less likely to catch the disease.

What complications does the affected person face?

An older person or an individual who has a weak immune system is more likely to face the complication such as:

Post-Herpetic Neuralgia

After the rash resolves, the pain which remains is called Post Herpetic neuralgia. It can be severe or mild. It is the most common complication and is also defined as a burning pain (Villines, 2018). The problem can last from a month up to years and improves as time passes.

Skin infections

The other complication faced is the delay in healing because of the infected sores.

Eye complications

Eye complications include a droopy eyelid, fever, decreased vision, and headache. The person can also feel sensitivity at the top of the head to the forehead and eye. In the case of severe complications, the retina of a person can be damaged. This damage usually starts as a pain in one eye or blurry vision, which leads to permanent loss vision.

How many times can it reoccur?

shingles-reactivationNo person in their right mind would want to experience or think about the painful stabbing and burning misery of the disease again. Unfortunately, it can also occur, twice or in some cases, even thrice. However, there is still disagreement about how often the disease is likely to reoccur. Researchers researched 1700 patients between the years 1996 to 2001 who were affected by the disease. They found out that 5% were treated again within eight years for the second episode of the illness, concluding that the disease could occur more than once.

The virus sleeps then reactivates

A stabbing and a burning pain occur when the virus reactivates. The virus goes to the nerves causing the infected nerve to be inflamed. When the varicella-zoster virus reaches the skin after a few days, a rash appears along the infected nerve. The person can’t tolerate the slightest touch as the skin becomes extremely sensitive (Parlikar, 2011). Many people, even after the rash has healed completely, can experience long term pain.

The virus once again lays dormant inside the nerves after causing the disease, biding its time for the next flare-up.

Who can get the disease more than once?

Some people get affected again by the disease. Here are some reasons why a person is more likely to get afflicted by it more than once (Web MD):

  • A weaker immune system
  • A person who suffering from Post Herpetic Neuralgia
  • Old age
  • It occurs more commonly in women
  • Medicines to suppress the immune system or weakness due to conditions like HIV and leukemia

Treatment

Two vaccines are used for the treatment of the disease:

Shingrix

This vaccine protects the person for more than five years against the disease. It is used for people above the age of 50.

Zovtavax

This offers protection for 5 five years against the disease. It is recommended to people above 60 years.

However, these vaccines don’t guarantee that a person would be free from the disease. It only reduces the severity and course of it. This is just a prevention strategy and doesn’t cure people who are already afflicted by the disease.

Natural treatment

Where conventional treatment doesn’t cure the disease, treatments containing natural ingredients can be of use. A prominent option is EMUAIDMAX® First Aid Ointment. It is an ointment that is designed specifically to penetrate the skin and heal it from beneath. It contains natural ingredients that help repair the skin and prevent any flare-ups in the future. The best thing about it is that it is not limited to a specific age group and can be used by anyone.

Scroll to Top