Shingles are painful rashes on the skin. Shingles are reactivation of chickenpox virus in nerve tissues. They can spread through direct contact when the rashes are in the blister phase. It does not get transmitted before the appearance of rashes or after the rashes get crusted.
Shingles is caused by a virus – Varicella Zoster – the same virus that is responsible for chickenpox. After the first occurrence of chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in your nerve tissues and may get reactivated later as shingles. The exact cause for the reactivation is unknown. A weaker immune system can be a possible cause.
Symptoms of shingles include:
- People may experience pain or itching (before the rashes appear) in the area where rashes may develop later.
- Occurrence of rashes in a single strip either on the left or right side of the body
- Fluid filled blisters, painful rashes and increased sensitivity to touch
- Vision loss can occur if it affects the face.
- People may also experience fever, headache and fatigue.
Diagnosis of shingles can be based on the following:
- Medical history
- Signs and symptoms
- Physical examination
- Tissue scraping for lab testing.
The preventive method for shingles is vaccination. Two vaccines help in preventing the condition. They are shingles vaccine and chickenpox vaccine.
Treatment objectives for shingles include quicker healing, prevent transmission and reduce risk of further complication.
- Drugs are the major treatment options for shingles.
- Antiviral medicines to treat the viral infection
- Pain medicines to relieve the pain that occurs
- Measures like wet compresses, calamine lotion, lukewarm bath may be suggested to relieve itching.
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