Shingles or Herpes zoster is a disease of a nerve and the surrounding skin areas. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus which is also the cause of chickenpox. It most commonly occurs during older adults and those who have weakened immune systems due to stress, injury, medicines or any other reasons.
If you catch Shingles, the main sign is a painful rash growing into itchy blisters comprising particles of the virus. After catching the condition in approximately four weeks, some people may continue to develop nerve pain called postherpetic neuralgia in the affected area.
When you have Shingles, you may have a headache at first. In some cases, infected people may have the flu, but not a fever, as well.
After that, you may have itching, tingling or pain in a particular area where shows a band, strip, or small rash area a few days later. The rash will then turn into clusters or blisters containing fluid and subsequently crust over. 2 to 4 weeks later, the blisters will heal and may leave scars. Some may get a mild rash, others may get no rash at all.
In short, the most regular symptoms of Shingles include:
– Pain, burning, numbness or tingling
– Sensitivity to touch
– A red rash a few days after the pain
– Fluid-filled blisters that break over and crust over
– Fever, headache, fatigue, sensitivity to light and more that are less common.
Depending on the location of the pain which usually is the first and foremost sign of Shingles, it could also be the symptom of any other problems influencing your heart, lungs, or kidneys.
It can happen anywhere on your body, but mainly as a single stripe of blisters covering around sides of your torso. The rash sometimes presents itself around one eye or on one side of your neck or face. It typically impacts on a particular area on one side of your body and does not move across midline of the body. It is possible to catch the infection more than once, but most people have had it before do not get it again.
Shingles is not infectious, which means that you will not catch it from someone else or give it to others. However, because this condition and chickenpox are caused by the same virus, a person having Shingles can pass the virus, via direct contact with the open sores of the rash, to anyone to be infected with chickenpox, not Shingles. It is possible to cause chickenpox when you catch Shingles to someone else who have not had chickenpox or vaccinated before.
Therefore, once you have the problem, you should avoid physical contact with:
– Those who have weak immune system
– Pregnant mothers.
When to seek medical advice
Once you suspect yourself being infected with the condition, instantly call your doctor. Receiving treatment as soon as possible helps reduce the seriousness of your symptoms and complications, especially in the following special cases,:
– The pain and rash presents near your eyes. It can cause permanent eye damage if untreated.
– You are at age of 70 or more. You are at higher risk of complications.
– You have a weak immune system.
– The rash is widespread and painful.