Shingles is a viral disease characterized by painful skin rash and skin inflammation over a particular point or strip of the body. It is also called herpes zoster. The virus causing shingles is the same one that causes chickenpox.it is known as Varicella Zoster virus. Most people are infected with the virus when they are children and contract chickenpox. After chickenpox, the virus becomes dormant but it is reactivated to cause shingles. Shingles rarely affects the same individual over three times. When one has shingles spreads it to someone else, the other person contracts chickenpox and not shingles.
Early signs And Symptoms Shingles
The first symptoms are usually extreme sensitivity or pain on only one side of your body where individual nerves from the spine functions and that is why the rash as a result of shingles is more painful but less itchy. Skin can be itchy and it persists for some time before the rash appears. When there is no rash it is difficult to know the cause of the discomfort. The rash takes time before it forms therefore before it appears, one may assume that it is just a normal itch and it will disappear after some time.
When the rash appears, it forms a blister filled with flied or pus. If not taken care of, the blister may be infected with bacteria and form more complicated symptoms of shingles. The area becomes red, warm firm and tender (complicated symptom). When it is already infected it will take more time and effort to treat it and may result to other complications.
The Non-Specific Symptoms
These are symptoms which are not directly caused with the virus. Such symptoms may be discomfort which may occur in the various parts of the body such as the chest, back, head or face. Other symptoms that may be accompanied by the first symptoms include headaches, a flu symptom especially chills and stomach discomforts experienced before or after the rash have appeared. Swelling and also tenderness of the lymph nodes can be experienced.
The work antibodies produced in the lymph nodes which protect the body from infections are impaired therefore at times it is hard for the body to fight other infections and explains other symptoms such as the flu like symptoms and the immunity reduce. These are the other non-specific symptoms that occur at the same time with the rash.
A rash may occur on the face particularly on the forehead, cheeks and the eye. If the rush appears on the face, then the patient should seek immediate medical attention as it may cause other adverse effects on the person. When the rash spreads to the eye, it may cause other eye infections and may result to the loss of sight to the infected person.
The pain may persist for some time and as time goes by, the life cycle of the blister comes to an end and it breaks open and fluid oozes out. The fluid that oozes out is usually cream or cloudy in color. A scab may form after some days but there will still be a scar left on the area where the rash formed. This scab protects the damaged area from infections by bacteria which would later bring further complications to the person. The scab will fall off after the wound is completely healed.
Complicated Symptoms Shingles
A complicated form of the shingles may occur and cause other serious symptoms. The complicated form of shingles is the Post herpetic Neuralgia (PHN). It can last for years. This is the chronic stage of the Herpes Zoster.
The symptoms associated with the complication include. Itching, stabbing pain where shingles rash had appeared earlier, one becomes very sensitive to touch. Such people may also become very hypersensitive and may develop allergies. The pain which is normally associated with PHN is mostly experienced on the chest or sometimes forehead. The patient may develop difficulties in eating, sleeping and doing daily tasks.
The pain may feel like the pain for appendicitis, heart attack, ulcers or migraine headaches. When it reaches such a point the patient needs serious medical attention. Such pain may cause a lot of discomfort, frustration and may lead someone to fall into a depression.
The rash from shingles sometimes can be confused to the rash for a herpes simplex infection which is a sexually transmitted disease. They both have almost similar symptoms and they are all contagious although their treatments are totally different since they are caused by different viruses. Patients who experience such symptoms should seek medical attention so that the correct diagnosis can be made and the correct medication to be administered. Shingles are treated with antiviral medication.
Herpes Zoster could be treated at an earlier stage before it develops into the more complicated form which is more painful and has adverse effects. People who have had chickenpox before have the likelihood of being infected by shingles. Pregnant women who have had chickenpox before are at risk together with the fetus unlike those who have never been infected before so they should seek medical care.
People who have a weak immune system should also get treatment earlier as their bodies are not able to fight various infections therefore should seek treatment before the infection gets to its chronic stage. When the symptoms persist and the rashes become redand they start spreading all over the body especially the eye, the patient should seek immediate medical attention.