Herpes Zoster, also known as Shingles, is a virus that causes a severe rash or blisters on the skin. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is also responsible for chickenpox. The rash usually manifests itself as a ring of rashes or boils in one area of the body.
When you experience chickenpox as a child, your body fights against the varicella-zoster virus and the physical ailments diminish, but the infection stays in your body. Sometimes the virus reactivates in maturity. The varicella-zoster infection makes its second start in the form of shingles this time.
Herpes is not a life-threatening disease, but it can be excruciatingly painful. Vaccines can help minimize the chances of getting shingles. Early therapy can help to minimize the duration of herpes infection and reduce the likelihood of complications. Postherpetic neuralgia is the most prevalent complication, which continues shingles discomfort even after the blisters have healed.
The majority of herpes cases resolve within 3 to 5 weeks. The illness can occur more than once in the same person, particularly if they have health risks, but this is rare.
Stages of Herpes Zoster
Herpes usually appears on one side of the body, most commonly on the waist, back, or chest.
A red rash in that location may appear within 5 days.A few days later, small groups of seeping, fluid-filled blisters may form in the same place.
Flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, and exhaustion are possible.
Herpes Zoster symptoms
Herpes symptoms often affect only a small portion of one side of the body. The most common herpes symptom is pain. This can be intense for some people.
Depending on the location of the discomfort, it can be misdiagnosed as a symptom of heart, lung, or kidney problems. Some patients have shingles pain but never develop the rash.
Among these indications and symptoms are:
- Pain, burning, numbness, or tingling are all possible symptoms
- Touch sensitivity
- A red rash that occurs few days after the pain has gone away
- Blisters that rupture and crust over with fluid
Some people also report:
- Light sensitivity
When to see a doctor?
If you suspect Herpes, visit your doctor right away, especially if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- The discomfort and rash appear near the eye. This illness, if left untreated, can cause irreversible eye damage.
- You're 60 years of age or older, which increases your chance of acquiring problems dramatically.
- You or a member of your family has a weak immune system (due to cancer, medications or chronic illness).
- The rash is extensive and excruciatingly unpleasant.
Causes of Herpes Zoster
The varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox, causes herpes. If you've previously had chickenpox, the virus can reactivate and produce herpes.
It is unknown why some people develop herpes while others do not. It is more prevalent in elderly persons because of decreased immunity to pathogens.
It may eventually reactivate and migrate across the neural pathway to your skin, resulting in herpes. However, not every person who gets chickenpox gets herpes.
The cause of shingles is unknown. However, as you become older, your protection against illnesses may weaken. Herpes is more common in elderly adults and those with compromised immune systems.
Herpes can affect everyone who's had chickenpox. Apart from this other factors also increase the risk of having this disease.
The following factors can increase your chance of developing shingles:
Being over the age of 50
Herpes is more common in adults over the age of 50. The danger grows with age.
Having specific diseases
HIV/AIDS and cancer, both of which impair your immune system, can increase your risk of herpes.
Cancer patients undergoing treatment
Radiation or chemotherapy might weaken your immune system and cause herpes.
Taking specific medications
Drugs used to prevent transplanted organ rejection, as well as extended usage of steroids such as prednisone, can raise your risk of herpes.
Diagnosis of Herpes Zoster
The background and physical findings are used to make a diagnosis. In most situations, laboratory testing to confirm the diagnosis is useless. However, in certain patient populations, notably immunocompromised patients, the appearance can be unexpected and may necessitate extra testing.
Below laboratory tests can be suggested:
- Testing for direct fluorescent antibodies (DFA) in vesicle fluid or a cornea lesion
- Examination of vesicular fluid, a cornea lesion, or blood using polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
- Tzanck vesicular fluid smear (lower sensitivity and specificity than DFA or PCR)
Herpes can be identified by the pattern of the rash on your body. Herpes blisters typically form in a ring on one side of the body. Herpes can also be identified in a laboratory utilizing scrapings or a swab of blister fluid
Treatment for Herpes Zoster
There is no cure for herpes, but treating it as quickly as possible will help you avoid complications and recover faster. Ideally, treatment should begin within 72 hours of the commencement of symptoms. Your doctor may recommend medicine to alleviate symptoms and minimize the duration of the infection.
Antiviral medications such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir, as well as anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen, can be recommended. The Shingrix vaccine is available from the FDA and is thought to be more than 90% effective.
The brand names are different in different countries and medicines should be taken only after having a verified prescription.
Herpes Zoster Dos and Don’ts
Herpes Zoster is a type of rash and irritation causing disease that can lead to symptoms like rash, itchiness, blisters bursting out of the body, and more. In such kind of diseases, it becomes very important to take self-care and follow some healthy guidelines to prevent the progression of the disease and its further spread to others.
|Local dressing using room temperature water||Reuse contaminated items|
|Maintain clean skin||Maintain close personal contact with anyone till the symptoms subside|
|Apply coconut oil||Eat saturated fats|
|Disinfect items of personal use by washing in hot water or other means||Intake amino acid|
|Avoid sugary foods||Avoid bathing and cleaning|
Follow the dos and Don’ts for Herpes Zoster because it can help in preventing the severity of the symptoms and also avoid worsening of the condition.
Herpes Zoster Care at Medicover Hospitals
At Medicover hospitals, we have the most reliable healthcare team of dermatologists and neurologists who design a personalized treatment pathway for each patient. We adopt a multi-faceted approach to managing Herpes Zoster disease with the active participation of healthcare specialists from different departments to address the disease for holistic recovery and wellness. We aim to provide the best treatment outcomes and satisfactory patient experiences at a highly affordable cost.