Shingles is a virus that is caused by the same type of varicella as chickenpox. Unlike chickenpox, however, shingles can be very painful and last for weeks. It is often characterized by a rash on the torso, but that rash can appear anywhere on the body and cause complications.
Shingles is like chickenpox but only because of the offending virus. Usually, a rash will form on the back of the torso and loop around one side of the body until it reaches the breastbone. Within the rash are many blisters that are filled with fluid. When they open up, you are able to spread the condition to other parts of your body as well as to other people. Anyone infected with shingles will not develop that condition but chickenpox.
Like we said, the rash can appear on any part of the body. When it is discovered around the torso and you have also flu-like symptoms, your doctor will most likely tell you that you have contracted shingles.
There are people who show no symptoms when they develop shingles. They have the condition but no sign of the blisters or the rash. In this case, you may pass it on to others more readily than when you can identify the reason.
Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant in the near future need to avoid individuals with shingles. The sores can possibly be passed on to the newborn or the mother. This can be dangerous for the child and can cause complications.
Also, older people are more likely to get shingles. After all, it is usually reported in individuals who are over sixty years of age. If their immune system is compromised, then they are at greater risk. Along the same lines, seniors who did not contract chickenpox as children are more susceptible to getting it in older age. The pain alone can make that unbearable.
When shingles rashes appear on the face, it can endanger your eye health. An infection of shingles in the eye can possibly lead to loss of sight.
There is a condition that can occur when shingles affects certain nerves in the body. It is called post-herpetic neuralgia. This is pain that hangs around long after the blisters have popped and crusted over. It is believed that the brain begins to send wacky messages throughout the body resulting in widespread pain. A strong pain medication may be prescribed to help manage it until it passes.
The cause of shingles is the varicella zoster virus. You may recognize varicella as the cause of the chickenpox. Shingles is quite painful, even more so than chickenpox. It can often be missed if some symptoms are not present to alert you to what is actually going on in your body.
Even if you have had chickenpox as a child you can also develop shingles. The virus may lie dormant in your body and reappear later on. Some people who have never had chickenpox may also develop shingles.
One of the common signs is a rash. This rash usually occurs on your back and spreads out in a band around the front of your body. The rash produces blisters. The blisters will itch and burst, producing a pain, burning or even numbness in the area. Blisters usually occur around this area but can come in contact with the face and other areas of the body.
What else may happen? You may experience flu-like symptoms such as chills and even fever. Headaches and fatigue are also common with shingles. The hardest way to diagnose this condition is if there is no rash to give an indication.
Like any other condition involving sores, when the sores break open, the person becomes contagious. In this state it is best to avoid anyone who hasn’t had chickenpox, particularly children, pregnant women and those who have a compromised immune system. Contact with your sores will lead to a case of the chickenpox rather than shingles.
The biggest thing about shingles is the pain. You can use over-the-counter medications to ease it: ibuprofen, naproxen and acetaminophen. When the pain gets unbearable, it is time to visit a doctor. They can prescribe some antiviral drugs like those used for herpes infections to help as well.
On your own, keep the area of the rash dry and covered. The outbreak of shingles may last up to a month. Calamine lotion can help dry out the blisters and help them crust over and heal faster. It is imperative that you don’t scratch them. Anti-itch creams can keep you from resorting to sandpaper.
Untreated shingles can also lead to cellulites. This is an inflammation within the cells of your body. They usually develop just under the skin. The area will get red and hot to the touch. Medical attention is needed to fight the infection before it spreads.