Herpes Zoster or Shingles is a painful skin condition in adults caused by the chickenpox virus, also known as the Varicella zoster virus.
If you had chicken pox as a child, you still have the Varicella zoster virus inside some of your nerves, but not in active form. For unknown reasons, the Varicella zoster virus may become active again in older people or those with weakened immune systems.
Signs and Symptoms of Shingles
The reactivated virus travels along your nerves, to your skin, causing symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and pain. A red blistery rash quickly follows these symptoms. Shingles usually happen in a single patch on one side of your body.
Prevention and Treatment
Shingles usually get healed by itself without any treatment. Treatment is recommended when shingles are present on the face or when one has low immunity.
Treatment of shingles includes the prescription of anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine medicines. Antiviral drugs, such as acyclovir, may be prescribed to fight against the virus. It is best to start taking antiviral drugs before the vesicles appear.
Anti-inflammatory medicines, such as prednisone, are given to decrease swelling and pain. Also, painkillers and cold wet compresses can help reduce pain. To speed up drying of vesicles, daily application of a zinc-containing ointment can be used.
Singles can be prevented by:
• Avoiding contact with people having shingles or chickenpox, and;
• Getting vaccinated with the herpes zoster vaccine
For any further information or advice, you can best consult your family doctor.