Shingles, Signs, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
What Are Shingles
Shingles is a viral infection caused by a virus in the same family as the chickenpox virus. The chickenpox virus is called Varicella zoster, whereas the Herpes zoster viral outbreak is referred to as ‘shingles.’
You cannot develop shingles unless you have had a previous infection of chickenpox (usually as a child). Shingles is most common in people over 60 years of age, but can occur in people as young as three years old.
After you recover from chickenpox, the chickenpox virus becomes dormant and remains in your body; it settles and remains in the roots of your nerve cells (near the spinal cord). Later, if the chickenpox virus is reactivated, the symptoms are known as ‘Shingles.’ What causes the reactivation of the virus is still not medically known, but doctors do have several theories on what may contribute to the reactivation.
It is believed that a weakened immune system allows for more probability of the virus reactivation. This may occur with immune-suppressing medications, with another illness, after major surgery, or with pregnancy. Immune system booster supplements can help reduce the symptoms of shingles as well as prevent a recurrence.
Shingles is also commonly seen as a complication of cancer or AIDS. Advancing age, cortisone-type drugs, and the stress of major surgery may trigger a shingles outbreak as well. The virus may also become active again after trauma to the skin from injury or sunburn. Additionally, emotional stress has been identified as a possible trigger of an outbreak.
While the trigger is still unknown, the symptoms of shingles are very real and very uncomfortable, sometimes even painful.
Shingles Symptoms & Diagnosis
If you have had chickpox, then a shingles outbreak may be in your future. Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the virus that causes chickenpox.
After you recover from chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in your nerve roots. In some people, it stays dormant for the rest of their lives. In others, the virus can be reactivated when the immune system is weakened, possibly by disease, aging, or stress. Why some people get shingles and others do not is not fully understood, but most doctors believe the immune system and stress can play a role in shingles outbreaks.
The first symptoms of shingles are often sharp, burning pain, tingling, or numbness in your skin on one side of your body or face. Shingles most commonly appears on the back or upper abdomen and sometimes on the facial area. It can also cause severe itching or aching rather than pain.
Because they tend to follow nerve paths, the blisters are usually found in a line. Often times, these lines extend from the back or flank around to the abdomen, just on one side, but shingles never crosses the midline of the body. (The word ‘shingles’ even comes from the Latin word for ‘belt’ or ‘girdle.’) The rash also may appear on one side of your face – some people may develop painful eye inflammations and infections.
In patients with normal immune systems, shingles rarely leads to hospitalizations, usually clears up in a few weeks, and seldom recurs. However, there are several complications that you should know about:
- Postherpetic Neuralgia (PHN): People with PHN have pain & tingling that lasts for weeks, months, or even years after the skin outbreak has healed. Using medicine may help reduce the duration of PHN.
- Infections: Blisters can become infected by bacteria. You should suspect this has happened if the pain and redness suddenly become worse or go away and then return. Antibiotics may be necessary to treat these bacterial infections.
- Scarring: Shingles carries a risk of scarring the skin if the blisters become infected with bacteria. Both situations pose a risk of getting into the eyes and causing permanent damage.
While the symptoms of shingles are often quite gruesome, recognizing the symptoms and beginning treatment as quickly as possible is essential to avoiding complications.
Caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, shingles is an extremely uncomfortable viral infection that needs to be treated as quickly as possible.
Your doctor may suggest medications to reduce inflammation and to help you cope with the pain. Painkillers, such as aspirin or acetaminophen, can alleviate mild pain. Check with your physician for additional pain relief options.
The use of steroids to reduce inflammation and potentially postherpetic neuralgia is controversial. If the area becomes infected by bacteria, antibiotics can keep the infection under control.
Naturasil for Shingles is a homeopathic, all-natural, and effective option to assist in the relief of shingles. Naturasil for Shingles has no harsh or unwanted side effects. Our Naturasil products are formulated with all-natural ingredients as opposed to other treatments which may use harmful chemicals in their prescription formula.
For the pain that lingers after lesions have healed, your doctor may prescribe a tricyclic antidepressant or a seizure medication, which in small doses does help relieve pain. We recommend Naturasil Neuropathy Rub to relieve the symptoms of neuropathy such as a prickling feeling, shooting pain, and soreness that can be a common occurrence once your shingles infection has healed.
Shingles is not transmittable to persons who have already had the chicken pox virus, however a person with shingles can transmit chickenpox to a person who has never had the virus. There are virus particles in blister fluid as well, so if you have shingles you should avoid contact with infants, children, pregnant women, and adults who have never had chickenpox until your blisters are completely dry.
In addition to medication, there are other things you can do to help relieve the symptoms of shingles.
- Cold Pack for the Pain. Gently placing a cold cloth on blisters will soothe hot, blistered skin. Apply the cold compress for 20 minutes, and then leave off for 20 minutes. Repeat this for as long as necessary until the pain decreases.
- Stay in bed. Allowing your body to get enough rest will naturally increase your body’s immune response and help your body to heal itself.
- Don’t rub, scratch, or pop the blisters. While your blisters may be unbearable, it is important that you do not try to pop the blisters. Messing with your blisters can cause scarring or even bacterial infections, which will further complicate your shingles.
- Relax. Meditation or doing something that is relaxing, can help you to successfully cope with the pain of shingles. It will, if nothing else, distract you from you discomfort.