Shingles is caused by varicella-zoster virus and this virus also causes chickenpox. After acquiring chickenpox, the virus stays in your body for years and may later on develop shingles.
Shingles can cause extreme pain but it is not dangerous and there is an available vaccine to prevent or lessen the chance of acquiring the disease. If treated early, the risk of infections and complications will lessen.
Postherpetic neuralgia is the most common complication of shingles which causes pain for a long period even after the blisters are gone.
Signs and symptoms of shingles appear only in a small portion of one side of the body such as:
- Being sensitivity to touch
- Burning or tingling pain in an area of skin.
- After the pain for few days, red rashes will start to appear
- Blisters with fluid inside that break and crust
These symptoms may also occur in some cases:
- Light sensitivity
The onset of shingles is painful sensations and can be commonly assumed to be heart, lung or kidney disease. In some cases, pain may even occur without showing any rashes.
The rashes that shingles produce mostly appear as blisters with a stripe pattern on the torso (right or left side) or on one side of the eyes, face, or neck.
Consult your doctor if your experience the signs and symptoms of shingles, especially if you have the following symptoms:
- Eye pain and rashes near an eye which can cause eye damage for life if left untreated
- Old age (50 years old or more)
- Weak immune system due to cancer, chronic illness or medications.
- Extremely painful rash that has immensely spread
Shingles is caused by varicella-zoster virus which also causes chickenpox. After acquiring chickenpox, the virus stays in your body for years and becomes dormant and may reactivate and pass through the nerves going to the skin and develops into shingles. It is uncertain what causes the development of shingles. It may be because the body’s immune system weakens as you get older. It mostly occurs in older people and those who are immunocompromised.
Varicella-zoster is a type of virus under the herpes virus group which causes genital herpes and cold sores. This is the reason why shingles is also called herpes zoster. On the other hand, the virus that creates chickenpox and shingles is not the same as the ones causing cold sores or genital herpes (a sexually transmitted disease).
Any person who has no immunity to chickenpox can acquire the varicella-zoster virus from someone who has shingles through direct contact to the open sores of shingles rash. However, the person who has contacted with the infected will acquire chickenpox instead of shingles.
Shingles can be harmful for some people and therefore it is better to keep yourself away from having direct contact with people who have never had chickenpox vaccine or developed a chickenpox before, newborns, pregnant women or those who are immunocompromised. You are still contagious if your shingles blisters haven’t scabbed yet.
If you have had a chickenpox, you may develop shingles. These are the risk factors that may lead to the development of shingles:
- Age. Commonly affects people who are above 50 years of age. Furthermore, people who are more than 60 years old may develop more harmful complications.
- Medications. Using steroid for a long time and taking medicine to avoid organ transplant rejection.
- Some diseases. Being immunosuppressed due to having Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) or cancer.
- Cancer treatments. Undergoing radiation therapy or chemotherapy which weakens the immune system.