How do you get shingles?

As people age, their chances of developing a wide array of annoying, painful conditions increases. One such malady is an untoward malady known as shingles.

Overview

The ailment, which is scientifically referred to as herpes zoster, typically strikes older subjects and is produced by a virus. This pathogen, known in the medical community as the varicella-zoster virus, is the same organism precipitating the common childhood ailment called chickenpox.

In fact, many individuals who had chickenpox during their youth experience herpes zoster as an older adult. Once chickenpox clears, the virus often lingers in and remains dormant inside the brain and other central nervous system tissues for decades and ultimately resurfaces as this other condition.

Causes

Though the varicella-zoster virus is the primary underlying cause, researchers are unsure what triggers the disease later in life.

Said scientific experts opine that the disease may result from the gradual immune system weakening the body experiences as one age. Others suggest the condition might be precipitated by trauma or stress.

Risk Factors

Individuals at greater risk are those who are age 50 or older, are currently undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, or other aggressive cancer treatments, have been diagnosed with an immune system disorder or any other immune system-compromising sickness, or are using immune-system impacting medications.

Symptoms

In an appreciable number of cases, the first manifestation afflicted persons feel is moderate to severe pain on a specific portion of their skin. Occasionally, the pain can be so disabling and intense that healthcare providers initially believe the problem is the result of a major illness impacting the heart, lungs, or other vital organs.

However, a few days after the pain begins, the ailing bodily region usually develops a rash. This skin malady is typically bright red, confined to a small portion of the body, may tingle, burn, itch, be sensitive to the touch, and morph into fluid-filled blisters that burst apart, ooze, and finally crust over.

In addition to the pain and rash, afflicted subjects may also encounter an elevated body temperature, headaches, light sensitivity, and burgeoning fatigue.

In rare events, the disease does not produce a rash. That said, this symptom typically does occur and appears most commonly on either side of the torso, around an eye, or somewhere on the face.

Is The Disease Contagious

The simple answer to this question is yes. However, this is only the case in individuals who have not had chickenpox. That said, the varicella-zoster virus can be passed to said individuals.

Therefore, individuals with herpes zoster are implored to avoid contact with young people or adults who have not yet had chickenpox. This is especially true in adults also diagnosed with a severe autoimmune or systemic disease. Chickenpox can be much more severe in such individuals.

Complications

Unfortunately, the illness could yield several complications.

The most common lasting impact is a disorder called postherpetic neuralgia, which occurs when nerves under impacted skin become damaged. This could lead to significant pain for years after the virus has cleared.

If the rash appeared around the eyes, vision disturbances could result. Furthermore, rashes that are continually scratched or not properly cleansed could increase the afflicted subject’s risk of developing a secondary bacterial infection.

Diagnosis

Usually, herpes zoster is not difficult to diagnose. Doctors often confirm suspicions by examining the shape, texture, and contours of the rash. In certain instances, physicians might need to biopsy rash-infested tissue or culture associated blisters.

Treatment Options

Currently, herpes zoster has no known cure. That said, certain medications might prove useful in addressing associated symptoms. Such drugs include antiviral preparations, prescription pain-relievers, and shingles cream.

The rash might ebb when treated with shingles cream. One emerging good cream for shingles includes Emuaid. This product has gained notoriety as a good cream for shingles because it is doctor recommended, contains only natural ingredients, and has yielded fruitful results in alleviating the discomfort associated with herpes zoster skin ailments.

Prevention

Presently, certain notable vaccines might prevent the development of the disease. The first is the chickenpox vaccine. This is administered during early childhood and is estimated to be 90 percent effective in keeping recipients inoculated against the common childhood illness.

Additionally, herpes zoster vaccines are now available to persons over 50 who have had chickenpox. Researchers maintain that these preparations are anywhere from 85 to 90 percent effective. These intended preventative measures could, however, cause side effects or prove risky for certain individuals. Therefore, those considering these inoculations should first discuss such prospects with their doctors.

Prognosis

Herpes zoster is not a fatal disease and usually clears when the virus has run its course. However, proper management is necessary to prevent potential complications and associated manifestations.

Sources:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/shingles
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/154912
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/shingles/symptoms-causes/syc-20353054
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