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Healing Shingles

healing shinglesWaking up and seeing rashes on the mirror makes the person annoyed. Working or attending classes will be disrupted due that the affected person will be embarrassed to show his or her face to the public. Healing shingles might be the solution for this.

What is shingles?

The word “Shingles” is derived from the Latin word cingulum meaning “girdle”. It is the common name that is used to refer to a viral infection that is medically referred to as Herpes Zoster.

The term “Zoster” originates from the Greek word meaning “belt” because of the characteristic “belt-like” or “stripe like” rash that is caused by this disease.

What causes shingles?

This disease is caused by the reactivation of the Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV) which is primarily responsible for causing chicken pox in childhood. After the primary infection has subsided this virus remains latent for several years together in the dorsal root ganglia of the body only to get to get reactivated in individuals who are either immunocompromised or have recently experienced a stressful life event. It is more common after the age of 60.

How do I know If I have shingles?

  • A person who has contracted this disease would initially experience only non-specific symptoms like  low grade fever, headache and malaise followed by sensations of itching, “pins and needles “or tingling numbness. This is accompanied by a tingling, aching, stinging or throbbing nerve pain which may vary from mild to severe. This is the initial phase of the disease and would typically last anywhere between two to three days and three weeks.
  • Next there would be the appearance of a rash which initially gives the appearance of hives but gradually changes to give the characteristic belt-like or stripe like appearance. It is always confined to a single dermatome or one single side of the body and never crosses the midline to the other side. It is this peculiar feature of the disease which helps to aid in its diagnosis.
  • The most common area of the body where you would expect to encounter such a rash would be on the torso or lower back but it can also occur on the face, eyes, mouth and tongue due to the involvement of the branches of the trigeminal nerve. When it occurs in the eyes it is referred to as Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus.
  • Finally vesicles appear on the skin which are blister like in appearance and are filled with a clear watery fluid. They continue to form for the next 3-5 days.
  • These painful blisters eventually become filled with blood. Later they develop crusts which eventually fall off. The disease may last for as long as 7-10 days and it may take as long as 2-4 weeks for the skin to return to normal.

What Shingles remedies can I find at home?

While it is mandatory to see a physician in the event that you have contracted the disease, home remedies may often help to provide temporary relief. Some home remedies that may prove effective include:

  • Using Cold packs or cold compresses to  help relieve the pain
  • Gently place a cold towel or pour ice water over the affected area. It can help to soothe the pain.
  • The affected portion of the body should be washed with soap and water.
  • Calamine lotion can help to alleviate any itching or discomfort.
  • Get plenty of bedrest in order to hasten a speedy recovery from the illness.
  • Ibuprofen helps reduce inflammation is therefore considered the drug of choice. Aspirin may be another useful option and is available at your local pharmacy. If you are allergic to aspirin or ibuprofen, ask your doctor to prescribe something for the pain.
  • Your doctor may prescribe a topical local anesthetic cream to be used for the blisters.
  • A wet compress soaked with aluminum acetate can be both soothing and cleansing.
  • Further spread of bacteria can be avoided by meticulous skin care, particularly with cutting of fingernails.
  • Resist the temptation to pop the blisters! It will only worsen the scarring and prolong the healing process.
  • Wear loose clothing.
  • Avoid any close contact with those people who have not had chickenpox, or are immunocompromised.

What is the treatment for Shingles?

The main aim of treatment is to reduce the severity of the pain, shorten the duration of a shingles episode, and prevent complications from occurring in the future.

Analgesics

People with mild to moderate pain can be treated with over-the-counter pain medications.

Antivirals

  • Patients with herpes zoster benefit from oral antiviral therapy.
  • Acyclovir, Valacyclovir, or Famciclovir administered daily for 5-7 days leads to accelerated healing of lesions and resolution of the pain.
  • For low-risk immunocompromised patients, oral therapy with Valacyclovir or Famciclovir may be beneficial.
  • Corticosteroids may be useful to deal acute pain but have not shown any beneficial effects on long term pain.

Steroids

  • In addition opioids like morphine or oxycodone should be used to treat postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) as they minimize the pain.

Can Shingles Be Prevented by Vaccines?

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States has approved a vaccine for adult shingles known as Zostavax in those individuals who are over the age of 50 and have had chicken pox.
  • Only one dose is required to be administered in adults and subsequent booster dozes are not required.
  • Research has shown that this vaccine greatly contributed to reducing the risk of a shingles outbreak. In addition it was found to be very effective in reducing symptoms of this disease and also preventing the occurrence of post-herpetic neuralgia.A systematic review by the Cochrane Library concluded that 1 episode of shingles was prevented for every 70 patients who received this vaccine.
  • Previous attacks of Herpes Zoster have been shown to confer immunity on the individual and reduce the risk of a recurrence.
  • Always insist on getting vaccinated regardless of whether you have had Herpes in the past .Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the ACIP recommend the vaccination of all adults irrespective of whether they have contracted the disease in the past or not.
  • A study conducted in 2007 found that the zoster vaccine was likely to be cost-effective in the United States.
  • Ongoing studies are being used to evaluate the effectiveness of this vaccine long-term. In the Shingles Prevention Study (SPS), vaccine efficacy was maintained through four years of follow-up.
  • However this vaccine cannot be administered to pregnant women.
  • If you have taken the shingles vaccine you should wait at least three months before trying to get pregnant.
  • Those individuals who have a weakened immune system due to HIV, cancer treatment or other conditions should not take the shingles vaccine because it contains live attenuated viral particles.

Healing shingles is a way to enjoy your life again and return to normal activities. Maintain a healthy diet and often go to non-polluted places for you to have a longer healthy life.

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How do you treat Shingles?

how do you treat shinglesHaving a skin disease will be a sure-fire way to be pissed off or freak out. This post is all about “how do you treat shingles?” where you will learn how you could erase this skin problem not only on the surface but also within your inner body. So then, let’s discuss its causes and its treatment.

How come there is this disease called Shingles?

People who contract chickenpox especially the children have the herpes zoster virus that causes it to lay dormant inside their bodies. Sometimes, this latent virus gets revived in adults whose immune system are suppressed due to illness, stress or other reasons. This herpes zoster virus becomes the culprit for the disease known as shingles and it is most common in adults over the age of 60.

How will I know if I have this? What are the symptoms?

Being caused by the same virus, shingles is similar to chickenpox and it presents as fluid-filled oozing blisters that will eventually become dry, crusty and then, heal. The first symptom of this is usually a tingling or burning pain under the skin because of the nerve involvement in shingles. Next comes the itchy rashes or blisters which generally occur only on one side or an area of the body. These rashes may also occur as a band along the path of the nerve. Also, other symptoms may include fever, chills, stomach pain or digestive problems. Lymph node enlargement can also be a symptom too.

In some cases, complications may arise from this skin disease because if the affected area is not kept clean and dry, bacteria may proliferate in the area and cause infection. Do you think these are only the symptoms? Actually, there’s more!

Postherpetic neuralgia is caused by nerve damage due to shingles and is characterized by nerve pain and tingling that may persist for up to several years after the rash has cleared. Another serious complication is Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which can occur when the skin disease affects the face. Its common symptoms are facial paralysis, loss of taste, earache and partial or complete deafness. Shingles may also affect the eye area causing blindness or it can reach the brain that might cause brain inflammation leading to serious problems and even death.

How will I treat this?

As in the case of most other viral diseases, there is no cure for this and it usually clears up on its own after a period of three to five weeks. However, due to the intensity of its pain and discomfort, doctors usually prescribe their patients medicines to control symptoms, reduce pain and shorten the healing period. Patients can also opt for natural treatments to ease their discomfort.

Ideally, they should begin a course of the anti-viral drug like acyclovir, famciclovir or valacyclovir within 72 hours from the time when the rashes appeared. Antiviral treatment usually lasts between 7 to 10 days and it reduces the severity of the pain and blisters, shortens the span of the disease and also prevents the development of complications like postherpetic neuralgia.

Doctors also prescribe pain medicines, ranging from common over-the-counter analgesics like Aspirin to stronger prescription narcotics or opioids. In more severe cases, some physicians recommend the use of topical anaesthetics like benzocaine or anaesthetic patches that can release a small dose of Lidocaine into the affected area to control the pain. Also, anaesthetic treatment can be continued if the patient suffers from postherpetic neuralgia even after the shingles clears up.

Anti-inflammatory drugs, antihistamines, like Benadryl, and corticosteroids are helpful in calming the inflamed and itchy rashes. Antidepressants and anticonvulsants, like gabapentin, are also commonly prescribed to patients. These can suppress the nervous system and relieve pain, making the condition more bearable and comfortable for them.

What are the natural treatments for this?

Topical lotions, like calamine, petroleum jelly and other unscented creams soothe irritation and reduce itching. You can also buy Burow’s solution or known as aluminium acetate solution at pharmacies and it helps the blisters to dry quicker and to stop oozing. Oral colloidal silver is an antiviral dietary supplement and it reduces the proliferation of viruses in the body, controlling the intensity of the disease.

Several natural treatment options are also available through oatmeal baths to soothe the rash, cornstarch to dry the blisters and capsaicin (pepper extract) to reduce pain. Vitamin supplements and lysine-rich foods that have protein and dairy products are known to increase the body’s immunity against viruses, inhibit viral replication, speed up healing and decrease nerve pain. Proteolytic enzyme supplements can prevent viral replication, decrease the severity and shorten the duration of shingles.

Herbal remedies like lemon balm, licorice and passionflower reduce anxiety and pain and these can even counter the herpes zoster virus. Aside from these, keeping the affected area clean and dry and wearing loose or airy clothes is important to prevent further bacterial infection. Applying cool compresses or soaking the blistered skin in cool water may relieve pain and help crusted blisters fall off.

If shingles spreads to your face, nose or eyes, you should visit a doctor immediately to avoid the development of serious complications.

Can I get injections or vaccinations to fight this disease?

The vaccination for chickenpox (VZV) can usually protect both children and young adults from the zoster virus but its effectiveness reduces as one ages. Recently, a new vaccine called Zostavax has been approved for use in patients over 60. It has been successful in reducing its shingles cases by about 50% amongst vaccinated adults and also in decreasing the severity of it from those who had contracted the infection.

Is this skin disease contagious?

Everyone, including you must be careful because it is contagious and care must be taken while coming in contact with an infected person. A person who has not had chickenpox will most probably contract it. However, he or she cannot get it directly from another shingles-affected individual. The time that the person will get it is when he or she has direct or indirect contact with the fluid in the blisters. Fluid in the blisters is infectious. Clothes and towels that have touched shingles-infected skin should be disinfected by washing in hot water before being used by someone else.

The ways on, how do you treat shingles will surely be helpful in reducing your discomfort while getting this healed. Even no medication can help to clear this up immediately, antiviral and natural treatments can help speed up the healing process and reduce the duration and intensity of the illness. Patients are, therefore, advised to rest and supplement themselves with a healthy diet and medicines prescribed by their doctor to soothe pain, calm the inflamed areas and have a speedy recovery as possible.

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Vaccine for shingles virus

Shingles injection

The varicella zoster virus causes shingles or herpes zoster. It is the same virus that causes chickenpox. The virus stays in a person’s body after he/she has recovered from chicken pox. The chickenpox virus or varicella-zoster virus can stay in a dormant state in dorsal root ganglia and can flare up years later, causing shingles. The virus causes a flu-like illness by becoming active in two or three nerve roots. As immunity wanes naturally with advancing age, it can result in reactivation of varicella-zoster virus as herpes zoster.

Though shingles can appear anywhere on the body, it usually appears as a band of irritated skin or blisters on one side of the back or chest. It can also occur on one side of the face and can also affect the eye which can lead to loss of vision. The pain caused by the rashes is often described by patients as burning, stabbing, itching or aching.  The rash and pain of shingles usually lasts two to four weeks in most cases as the blisters scab over and clear up within that period. Even after the rash has disappeared some people experience lingering pain in the nerve for many years which is called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). Two out of every ten people with shingles go on to develop post-herpetic neuralgia.

Fever, headache, chills and upset stomach are several symptoms of shingles. Fifty percent of shingles cases occur among men and women aged sixty years and above due to the vulnerable immune system of aged people. A person cannot catch shingles from another person with shingles. When a person with shingles transmits the varicella-zoster virus to someone who has never had chickenpox then the newly infected person might develop chickenpox but would not develop shingles.

Is getting vaccinated safe?

Getting vaccinated is the only way of reducing the risk of developing shingles. Till 2006, nothing could be done to prevent shingles. On 25th May 2006, U.S. Food and Drug administration approved a herpes zoster vaccine and it was also recommended by Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices for preventing shingles in individuals aged sixty years and above. The vaccination for shingles is recommended for use in people aged sixty years and above since the effects of shingles is severe in older people. The brand name of the vaccine for shingles is called Zostavax. The generic name is zoster vaccine live. The zoster vaccine contains a weakened varicella-zoster virus and it helps arouse a person’s immune system to fight disease caused by the chickenpox virus. The zoster vaccine does not treat shingles or post-herpetic neuralgia. It is given as a single 0.65ml dose by an injection under the skin in the upper arm.

How effective the vaccine is in reducing risk and for how long?

Any person who has had chickenpox is at the risk of developing shingles. The shingles vaccine reduced the risk of shingles by fifty percent in the clinical trials. Though it is difficult to be accurate, research suggests that the vaccine protects a person for at least three years. A shingles vaccine particularly protects a person against shingles and not against other forms of herpes viruses such as genital herpes. It should also be noted that the zoster vaccine does not protect everyone. Some people still get shingles even after getting vaccinated. Once a person fully recovers after getting infected from shingles, his/her immunity to the varicella-zoster virus gets boosted and it may help protect that person from getting shingles again. It has not been demonstrated in clinical research whether the zoster vaccine is effective in preventing repeated episodes of shingles. Research data also suggest that physical and mental trauma may play a role in triggering an outbreak of herpes zoster.

Following individuals should not get shingles vaccine if:

  • A person who is suffering from active untreated tuberculosis.
  • A person who has ever had life-threatening allergic reaction to any component of the shingles vaccine like gelatine, neomycin etc.
  • A person having a weak immune system due to AIDS or some other disease which affects the immune system.
  • A person undergoing radiation or chemotherapy as a part of cancer treatment.
  • A person suffering from leukaemia or lymphoma. Patients with leukaemia in diminution can receive zoster vaccine if they have not received radiation or chemotherapy for at least three months.
  • A person undergoing treatment with drugs that affect the immune system such as long term use of high dose steroids.
  • A woman who is pregnant or is about to get pregnant.
  • A person with moderate or severe illness including anyone with a temperature of 101.3 degree Fahrenheit and above. Such a person should only get vaccinated after fully recovering from the illness.

A person with minor illness such as colds may be vaccinated. Like any other medicine, a vaccine could cause problems such as allergic reactions. The risk of a shingles vaccine causing major harm or death is extremely small. Adverse effects of the zoster vaccine are mild. Mild problems such as soreness, redness, swelling or itching at the site of the injection and headache can occur.

According to the results of clinical trials, administration of live zoster vaccine in older individuals reduces the burden of illness associated with shingles to the extent of 61.1% and the incidence of shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia to the extent of 51.3% and 66.5% respectively.

How to relieve Shingles pain

Shingles relief

Image source: NIAID on Flickr

Once you have shingles, it is urgent to treat it. While the matter is with shingles relief, every step taken during the initial stages can undoubtedly save you from nasty damages. To avoid the pain and panic, know the initial remedies and medical measures to treat your nasty skin disease accurately, making it heal faster.

If you had never caught shingles, now is the best time to learn how to treat it and what to avoid so you will know what to do in case you become affected by this disease. Aside from that, you may also prevent having shingles. If you have caught Shingles already, don’t worry, you can minimize it with proper tools and methods of treatments. There are many ways to opt for in order to heal shingles properly and one of the easiest ways is to do it at your home.

Under severe conditions, you need to have a medical consultation and take prescribed medicines, as well as changing your lifestyle. However, the most important of all is you need to know what exactly shingles is and how someone can be a victim of this skin disease. Of course, you do not need to have an encyclopedic knowledge on entire medical science to treat shingles but some information will help you safeguard yourself against the panic, despair and utter pain of being infected by Shingles.

What is Shingles?

Shingles is caused by a virus attack called Varicella-Zoster and it is the same virus that is responsible for making patients suffer from Chicken Pox. Your itchy and blistery skin could be the sign of this disease. Moreover, it might cause an inflammation to your cranial nerve or spinal area. If you have seen someone else being attacked with this before, you are lucky to know how it would harm you and by this, you are already prepared. If you have not seen the symptoms of shingles yet, you might wrongly guess the skin disease you have got. So, as soon as you see any inflammation or blister on your skin, do not disregard this. Act as soon as possible to treat this. The most common victims of this disease are people of old age who were affected by chicken pox during their childhood. Some may also be affected if their mothers had shingles during pregnancy.

How to relieve it against itch and pain?

Use an ice-water soaked cloth on the blister for 20 to 25 minutes. You should observe and see the signs of pain reduction after doing this. If the pain persists, repeat the process again. Keep repeating this procedure until the pain subsides and when you feel more comfortable. If you are not able to avail ice immediately, get your cloth soaked in water and apply this on the affected area for the time being. You should collect ice after using this.

Upon consultation with your physician, you will certainly prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen or Aspirin to lessen the pain and antiviral drugs such as Valaciclovir, Famciclovir and Aciclovir to reduce inflammation.

Try availing local anesthetic cream which can be used topically on the blisters in accordance with what your physician prescribes. Avoid buying unknown over-the-counter creams because these can produce side effects and may turn your skin into its worst and ugliest condition. Buy lotions or creams containing calamine.

Follow these procedures:

  • Soak 1 tablespoon of dried lemon balm leaves in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes (Boiled water is preferred on this occasion). Do this three to four times a day. Lemon balm consists of citric acid which stops the further reproduction of virus and helps the blister heal fast. You can also use zinc and selenium which are available in an antioxidant formula.
  • Get adequate meals daily. Try to consume more fruits and vegetables so you will have enough resistance to fight the virus existing in your body. Try to get enough rest so you will have a stronger immune system. Since the healing of shingles requires natural remedies or doctor prescribed medications, do not waste your time waiting for it to heal on its own. As long as the virus is in your body, you need to consistently receive proper medical treatment and effective medication.
  • If you are buying medicines again and the sores become dry, you may apply corn starch or baking soda while waiting for your medicines.

Things to Remember

  • People, who have caught chicken pox earlier, have greater probability of being struck by shingles. So, if you are on your 60s, you should be more aware of its symptoms and prepare for it.
  • In order to stay away from scratching, cut your fingernails and consider wearing gloves. Under severe conditions, gloves will save you from random scratching. Scratching will allow you to spread the disease into other parts of the body.
  • Avoid piercing the blisters because popped blisters will result in having ugly scars or body marks.
  • Shingles may cause you eye problems if the surrounding nerves of your eyes are infected. In this case, you need to immediately contact an eye-specialist.

How many days will Shingles rashes fade?

After the blisters popped, Shingles’ scabs and crust will normally fade within 7 – 10 days. Some may get vaccines to prevent the shingles from coming again.

Whatever the reasons are, it is very important to know the shingles relief. As pain becomes consistent or becomes worse, you will surely could not endure it. However, shingles treatment may require proper care and maintenance as well. You may need to leave your bad health habits and follow a healthier lifestyle in order to get the desired longevity but first of all you, need to become free from depression. Depression can be one of the worst effects as this skin disease makes the patient look ugly. If you are depressed, your physician will prescribe you to take anti-depressant drugs. Since there are proper treatments available, you don’t have to be depressed at all. Get well and make yourself beautiful again inside and out.

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How to treat shingles

how to treat shinglesDid you wake up in the morning seeing rashes on an area of your body? If yes, you must pay attention to it and finding out how to treat shingles must be done immediately because this skin disease might cause you pain and worse, blindness if left untreated. Luckily, you have stumbled on this site and now, you can just browse the pages to know all about this disease and how to prevent it from occurring.

What is Shingles?

The varicella-zoster virus belongs to the herpes family that causes chickenpox and shingles. Inevitably, when a person contracts the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), he or she will develop chickenpox. However, even after the body fights off the chickenpox infection, the VZV virus still remains in the nerve roots in an attenuated or dormant state. In some cases, usually in people over 50, this virus becomes active again and travels along the path of the nerve to the surface of the skin that will lead in its comeback, developing a disease known as shingles. Yes, it’s like having a payback time.

Shingles can be identified by the presence of rashes and blisters on the skin, accompanied by intense itching and pain. These blisters contain infectious fluid and an individual can transmit the infection from the time the first blister appears till the time all blisters have dried, formed crusts, flaked away and cleared.

What can the prescribed medicines do to my body?

 There is no cure for this and doctors only prescribe medicines to treat its symptoms. Usually, the medications’ aims are the following:

  • Decrease the pain
  • Shorten the length of the shingles episode
  • Lessen itching
  • Help blisters heal quickly as possible

There are, however, antiviral treatments like Zovirax, Famvir and Valtrex, which can prevent the virus from multiplying and spreading to other parts of the body. These can slow down the progression of the disease and reduce its severity by allowing the body’s immune system to cope with it better. Antiviral treatments should be started within the first three days from the day the rashes first occurred.

Antihistamines, corticosteroids and anti-inflammatory medicines can help control itching and lessen skin inflammation.

What if traditional analgesics are not effective? What painkillers will I take?

To manage the pain, you should try traditional analgesics first. If these are found to be insufficient and you are still experiencing further pain, the physician can prescribe stronger painkillers like prescription narcotics (example, Vicodin) or “pain patches”.

Pain patches” are anaesthetic patches that can be applied to the skin. These can release a local anaesthetic into the skin for a few hours to make the area numb and impervious to pain. Doctors may also tell you to use creams or ointments that contain benzocaine or other anaesthetizing medicines.

Since most of the pain associated with shingles is nerve-related, some physicians recommend the use of antidepressants and anticonvulsants for managing your pain. Both of these drug categories inhibit nerve activity and these medicines can drastically decrease pain in shingles patients. Antidepressants can also reduce stress, anxiety levels and can help patients relax. You might experience less itching as well.

How do I keep my skin moisturized and at the same time make my blisters dry?

Moisturizing creams, calamine and other unscented lotions can be applied to keep the skin hydrated and soothe the itch. Petroleum jelly or honey can also be used for this purpose. (If you are using honey, watch out for ants, they may find you very sweet and they will bite you for that). Scented moisturizers can further aggravate irritation and should be avoided.

Domeboro solution, which is basically aluminium acetate solution, or a paste of cornstarch can be applied to dry blisters faster. Pepper extract or capsaicin creams and tinctures are available at pharmacies and are widely used to control pain in shingles patients. Capsaicin exhausts and transmits chemicals that can make the nerves insensitive to pain for some time.

Heat treatment and ice pack application is also effective in temporarily reducing your pain. Keeping the affected skin immersed in cool water for some time can help you feel comfortable making yourself reduce the urge to scratch your skin. Ready-made oatmeal bath mixes are available at drugstores and these can be emptied into a bathtub to soak your affected skin. Breathe, relax, soothe and calm yourself.

What vitamins do I need most?

Some patients find vitamin supplements to be helpful in controlling shingles. Vitamin E, taken orally or applied directly onto the affected skin, is good for healing skin problems and protecting the nerves from damage. The B-complex group of vitamins is commonly used to strengthen the nervous system and to reduce nerve pain. Vitamins A and D fortify the body’s immunity and these can increase the production of killer T-cells and macrophages, which can counter infection. Vitamin C is good for skin regeneration and virus multiplication prevention.

Natural remedies like turmeric paste and garlic juice have antiseptic properties and could speed up healing. Eating a spoonful of flaxseed powder twice a day increases the natural immunity of the body and has been found to be helpful. Plant extracts, like Licorice, soothes the inflammation and can help calm the rashes. Lemon balm counters viruses of the herpes family in particular and has been found to be reasonably successful in aiding the healing of cold sores or rashes.

Can I get a vaccination?

Many children are given the chickenpox vaccine, but the protective effect of this vaccine wears off as they approach adulthood. A vaccine for shingles called “Zostavax” is now approved for use in adults over the age of sixty. Some people who have been vaccinated for chickenpox or shingles can still get the disease, but they just usually develop a comparatively milder or shorter outbreak. Zostavax is said to have a prevention rate of about 50%.

According to this post’s introduction, Shingles can cause blindness, but how dangerous can it be?

In some cases, it may spread to the whole head, causing permanent or partial facial paralysis, hearing problems, pain in ear (or ears) and damage to the taste buds. In others, shingles could damage the eye, causing loss of vision. It may even affect and inflame the brain tissue that may lead to serious consequences or even death.

The most common complication arising from shingles is a problem called postherpetic neuralgia. As its name signifies, it is a persistent nerve pain that continues and stays for a long time, even after the blisters or rashes have vanished. This problem is due to the lasting damage to the nerve fibers caused by shingles and the pain may still continue for up to several years. Many of the medicines that are used to control pain can still be continued in patients who have developed postherpetic neuralgia.

If you ever get Shingles, try to search information first and then consult with your physician. Everyone has different body conditions so if you are not satisfied with your physician’s advice or if you are experiencing severe side effects, get a second or up to the third opinion so you will really know how to treat shingles. Think positive and you will surely recover faster and become happier.

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Natural treatment of shingles

natural shingles treatment

Did you ever feel headache, nausea or any side effects using drugs or pills? If yes, natural treatment of shingles is for you. Aside from taking organic and healthier alternatives, fewer side effects will be experienced. Having second thoughts about using this? Well, just take a look at the information provided below.

Okay, Please tell me what is Shingles?

Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox or varicella zoster virus in adults. It usually occurs in people over the age of 60 who have a weak immune system, are stressed or ill. The most common symptom of shingles is the itchy, painful fluid-filled blisters that are present on the skin, usually on one side of the body. These blisters or sores will eventually dry out, crust over and heal on their own within 3 to 5 weeks.

While there is no known cure to treat this, certain natural remedies can be used to reduce the painful, burning sensation, duration and severity of the disease. Natural treatments are better to be used in combination with anti-viral medicines prescribed by a physician.

I need to soothe my rashes, how will I make these less itchy?

Soak the affected area with blisters in cool water or use a cool and wet towel as a compress to ease discomfort. Dip the affected part in hot water for around 30 seconds, so for you to have a temporary relief from itching.  Colloidal oatmeal or starch powder added to lukewarm baths can relieve the irritation and help you relax. Zinc and Vitamin E or aloe vera balms can also be applied to the sores to bring temporary relief. These powders and salves are available by over the counter at pharmacies.

How do I manage the pain?

Several natural or homemade treatments can be used topically to lessen pain and itching. Capsaicin is a chemical extracted from peppers, which when applied on the skin, causes nerve cells to release all their pain-sensing “substance P” neurotransmitters at once. Nerves then become incapable of transmitting pain signals to the brain for a while and because of this, capsaicin acts now as a natural pain reliever. Capsaicin is available by over the counter at drug stores in the form of creams and powders for topical treatment.

Can I use ice to manage pain and inflammation?

Yes. During the first few days, while the blisters are fresh, applying an ice pack for a few minutes several times a day can help you manage the pain and inflammation. Turmeric paste, honey, peppermint and geranium oil have been proven to reduce pain, possess antiseptic properties and are widely used for natural Ayurvedic treatment of shingles. Just be careful of using turmeric because it can stain your clothes so make sure you will just wear your house clothes. The Apple cider vinegar compress can also help you to control pain and itching.

I am done in soothing the blisters and managing the pain, how do I naturally heal shingles?

Apply cornstarch or baking soda so blisters will dry faster and will hasten the healing. These can be applied a few times a day, left on for a quarter of an hour and then properly wash off. Garlic juice mixed with olive oil can be applied to ease itching and speed up healing.

How will I have a good or balanced diet?

Diet can also affect the healing process. The essential amino acids, L-Lysine, interrupts viral replication while L-Arginine promotes the increase of the viruses. Because of these, patients are advised to maintain a higher L-Lysine to L-Arginine ratio. Lysine-rich foods include protein from meat, dairy and vegetables. Foods like sugar, chocolate, berries, nuts and tomatoes that are rich in Arginine should be avoided. Studies have proven that consumption of 1000mg of Lysine thrice a day decreases the duration and intensity of shingles. Natural dietary supplements like vitamin A, B complex, C, D and E are beneficial for shingles treatment. Vitamin A, C and D can strengthen the immune system. Vitamin C inhibits viral replication, Vitamin E aids in the healing of blistered skin and will prevent nerve damage and Vitamin B12 can be taken to decrease nerve pain that is commonly associated with shingles. Another supplement that is known to heighten immunity and speed up the healing process is flax seed or acidophilus bacteria powder which can also be bought at drugstores or pharmacies.

Proteolytic enzymes are protein-digesting enzymes that occur naturally in the human body and additional supplements can be obtained from papayas (papain), pineapples (bromelain) and animal sources (pepsin, trypsin, etc.). These enzymes digest the protein casing of the herpes zoster virus, slowing down its replication, decreasing pain, improving the condition of the skin and reducing the side effects of the anti-viral medicines. Naturally derived proteolytic enzyme supplements are available at most drugstores and can be taken orally.

Are there herbs and other alternative medicines?

Research is also underway to find herbal remedies like licorice root, passionflower and lemon balm. These have been found to heighten immunity, soothe inflammation and reduce anxiety. Lemon balm specifically attacks herpes viruses and can be applied topically to reduce blistering and heal the affected skin.

Some may prefer to be treated by alternative medicine such as having acupuncture and hypnosis to lessen the pain successfully.

How do I prevent it from making it worse?

Pat the skin dry after its exposure to water to prevent bacterial infection. The skin should be kept clean by washing this with a mild soap several times a day. Once the blisters crust over, soaking these blisters in tap water can help clean away crusts, decrease oozing and soothe itching and pain. The rashes should not be covered with bandages, plasters or tight clothes. Not only do this slowdown the healing process, but this can also cause bacteria to proliferate and infect the area.

Since shingles is communicable, all towels or clothes coming in contact with the affected skin should be washed in hot water before reusing or disposing it off. If you do not wash the towels and clothes properly, the virus can easily infect others due to skin contact and inhalation of airborne disease.

How long does it heal?

This viral disease will take its own sweet time to clear up despite all medications and natural treatments so it will be best if you will use your three weeks’ time to catch up on your rest and relaxation which can help to speed up the healing process.

While these natural treatments can help you cope with the shingles pain, it is strongly advised that patients should visit a doctor within 24 to 72 hours from the first appearance of the rashes so proper diagnosis and antiviral treatment prescription can be given and chances of complications and long-term effects are also reduced as well.

You don’t have to fret about side effects and pills. You can just use natural shingles treatment and become less worried about taking other important medications. You can now live and heal as naturally as possible but remember if the disease gets worse, seek a doctor’s help and take both natural and drug treatments so you can escape as soon as possible from the agony of having shingles.

Shingles in babies

Baby with shingles rashes

Michael Haire from stockvault.net

The varicella-zoster virus causes shingles. A viral infection of the nerves just below the skin is the main cause and it is also called zoster or herpes zoster. Though shingles can appear anywhere on the body, it usually appears as a strip of irritated skin or blisters on one side of the back or chest. It can also occur on the face and near the eyes.

First, how Shingles is related to Chicken pox?

Mild symptoms of shingles are seen in many cases, but the more severe ones can be very painful. Generally, older people suffer from severe cases; kids and teens usually have mild cases. Shingles is highly contagious since it is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. It is an after-effect of chicken pox. The virus stays in a person’s nervous system after he/she has had chicken pox. The chickenpox virus or the varicella-zoster virus can stay there dormant in the nerve roots near the spinal cord and in many people it will never be heard from again. In some cases it flares up and causes shingles. The probable explanation of the virus flaring up after months or years of inactivity is our immune system becoming vulnerable to infections with advancing age.

The shingles virus is shed from the rash. Unlike chicken pox, the shingles virus is not transmitted through coughing and sneezing. Thus, if an infected person’s rash is properly covered, another person is not likely to catch the virus from the infected person. A person with active shingles can transmit the varicella-zoster virus to another person who has never had chicken pox or the chicken pox vaccine. In such cases, the newly infected person might develop chicken pox but would not develop shingles.

How babies get the varicella-zoster virus?

The varicella-zoster virus is caught by a newborn baby. A baby is likely to be born with chickenpox if the baby’s mother catches chickenpox within a month before giving birth. In later years, that baby can then develop shingles. Whether or not a pregnant woman has contracted chickenpox in the past can be determined through a blood test. Since pregnancy alters the immunological strength of the expectant mother, chickenpox is quite dangerous in pregnancy. If a woman has chickenpox within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, there is a moderate chance of the new born baby developing foetal varicella syndrome or FVS. Babies whose mothers are exposed to the varicella-zoster virus during week 13 up to week 20 of pregnancy experience a very high risk of developing innate varicella syndrome. Beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy, if a woman catches chickenpox, then the risk of the baby developing varicella syndrome is very low. The foetal varicella syndrome is characterised by low birth weight, skin tissue injury, underdeveloped limbs, abnormally small sized heads, eye problems including eye inflammation, cataracts and cortical atrophy which is a neurological disease. A person infected with shingles should avoid contact with pregnant women who have never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine until the infected person’s blisters scab over. An infected person must also avoid contact with premature or low birth weight infants since they are more susceptible in acquiring the varicella-zoster virus due to their weak immune systems. If a new born healthy baby is diagnosed with chickenpox then it is considered very good since it is highly likely that the baby has received antibodies from its mother through the placenta. Thus, there is lesser chance of serious side effects in such a baby. In fact, the varicella-zoster virus cannot be transmitted to babies through their mothers’ breast milk.

What are the early signs of Shingles in babies?

Fever, diarrhoea and swollen lymph nodes are early signs of shingles in babies. The main sign of shingles is a red rash and after a few days the painful rashes turn into fluid-filled blisters. As the virus travels down a particular nerve, the blisters usually run in a distinct line. New lumps are seen in the first 2-3 days. The virus spreads when another child, who has never been infected or immunized, comes in contact with the blisters. When the blisters scab over, the infected baby is no longer contagious.

If a baby has not had chickenpox before, can the baby acquire the virus?

A baby won’t have the shingles virus in its system if it has not had chickenpox. Babies suffering from shingles often experience a burning or piercing pain. Because of this, it may be sensitive to touch. It is usually recommended by doctors to hold the baby in a way that would not irritate the rashes. Though there is no cure for shingles, only the symptoms could be treated through antiviral drugs. Applying creams or lotions to the rash should be avoided.

Medicine or treatment for babies

A dose of varicella-zoster immune globulin, or VZIG, carrying antibodies to the chickenpox virus is given to babies 5 days before they were born or 2 days after their mothers show signs of shingles. Babies whose mothers are not immune to the varicella including premature infants are recommended varicella-zoster immune globulin by paediatricians. According to the recommendation of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a US Government agency, every child must receive two doses of the varicella vaccine. First dose should be received at age 12 to 15 months and the second recommended dose at 4 to 6 years.

Natural remedies for shingles

natural remedies for shinglesNatural remedies for shingles are still preferred by many. Varicella-Zoster virus, which is responsible for Chicken Pox as well, is causing shingles. Symptoms of shingles are emerging in adulthood after a significantly latent period. Individuals who are attacked by shingles usually get fever, stomach ache, rashes with itch, blisters, chills and pain. Patients can automatically recover from Shingles within weeks but during the skin disease starting and finishing stage, patients will experience extensive discomfort and desolation. You could be prescribed to have drugs like Zovirax, Prednisone, and Valtrex by your physician in order to make the skin disease heal faster but since taking antiviral drugs and painkillers have side effects, you may opt to look for ways to recover naturally if you will follow the instructions below.

Simple Processes To Take

  • Drink as much as 3 to 4 cups of green tea per day because antiviral properties of the green tea can help you start getting rid of the symptoms.
  • Homeopathic components such as Arsenicum album can treat the burning sensation associated with shingles. It is recommended to use a dosage of 30c for 3 days, two times daily. Later reduce the strength to 12c to see the further improvement. If you can see the improvement, stop using this. In case of its failure to make the patient improve his or her condition, try Rhus Toxicodendron, Apis Mellifica, or Clematis Erecta. A homeopathic expert can better assist you with this and advise you which option you should use.
  • Alfalfa, Cayenne, Astragalus root, Dandelion, red clover, and other herbs promote healing of shingles. Aside from healing, you can use these herbs to relieve itch and pain on the rashes but keep in mind that these may have possible side effects if were used with other drugs. So, check for this before you decide to use these herbs.
  • Some useful oils work better for the natural remedy of shingles. These can bring relief and can heal shingles faster. Use Lemon, Bergamot, and Eucalyptus oils to derive desired results. Put a few drops of these oil essences diluted with Olive oil and massage this on your painful rashes or blisters.
  • Soothe blisters by dabbing a cotton on hydrogen peroxide and rub it on the affected area. Doing this will prevent blister infections. Consider dabbing a cotton on an organic apple cider vinegar (Test the acidity first on your skin. Start with a teaspoon amount) diluted in water and then, apply this on the painful shingles area.

Shingles will surely make you look ugly which results in lower self-esteem to the point that you don’t want to go out of your house. Also, it is a threatening disease to the public. Although people cannot get shingles just by talking, coughing and sneezing with you but you might still infect them if your skin with rashes touches them. So, take care of separating yourself from other people until you are completely free from this skin disease.

Cool Water Application

Low temperature undoubtedly helps patients get rid of pain associated with shingles. Using cool water can be a good treatment for patients who want to have pain and itch relief. It is strongly recommended for patients to take cool baths or showers on regular intervals. Using natural kitchen ingredients like baking soda or oatmeal will definitely help patients relieve itching. Application of wet compress as an alternative for shower or bath can also help. Vitamin-E oil and Aloe Vera are nutritious for the skin; applying a small amount of these on a warm compress will also help.

Changing Diet

In accordance with the guidelines of health authorities, healthy diet can sooth the condition of blisters to a lot of degree. Taking diet such as eating non-processed sugar, vegetables and fruits (canned or natural) can prevent infection further and better than other foods. Citrus Fruits, Bell Peppers, Strawberries, Brussels sprouts, Tomatoes, and Guava are perfect examples of Vitamin-C enriched foods. Hazelnuts, Almonds, Papayas, Avocados, leafy greens such as Spinach, Kale, Swiss Chard, Broccoli, etc are examples of Vitamin-E enriched foods. All of those, helps individuals to get comfort from the disgusting blisters caused by shingles. As long as those are taken on a regular basis, the severity of shingles will become less. Taking proper diet is the best way to prevent and heal shingles. These foods can also help patients keep their body fit and healthy.

Taking Supplements

It will be okay if patients will take supplements along with healthy diets according to the Health-Guidance. An individual can take 1,000 mg per day of Vitamin-C which can easily dissolve in water. Vitamin-E supplements can be received before meals in accordance with the supplement’s instructions. These supplements can help the patient recover from pain related to shingles. Also, Vitamin B-12 can be taken by injections or vaccines in order to relieve the pain. Consult with a physician first so you will know if you can take these supplements and vaccines.

Find a Physician

Though you are taking natural remedies, you should consult with your physician about what you are going to do with the natural treatment. Taking casual approach to treat shingles may cause severe damage to your health. Natural remedy does not mean that it is 100% safe. Also, if the natural remedy fails to help you recover completely, you should not waste your time and you should contact a physician as early as possible. The physician or doctor will decide if you need special treatment or you can still continue with the natural treatment. Your physician can prescribe antiviral drugs which can accelerate the process of healing and lessen complications. Anticonvulsant drugs could be prescribed as well. Topical numbing agents, gabapentin, antidepressants, etc can be included within the prescription. Your physician will also suggest you if you should continue natural treatment along with these drugs.

The main objective of the treatment is to heal from shingles. You can opt for any kind of sophisticated treatments as long as you can benefit from these. However, before starting with natural remedies for shingles, it is recommended to consult with your trusted physician.

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Internal Shingles

We have tackled in this website about Shingles, now, we will focus on Internal Shingles. But, first, let’s recap about Shingles and then, we will proceed about the main topic.

Introduction to Shingles

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a very painful skin rash or blisters on an area of the skin. This viral disease is very common in adults especially those who have weak immune systems because of having stress, injury and taking various medications. This skin disease is caused by Varicella-zoster virus or what we call the zoster virus, the same virus which is also the main cause of chickenpox. Usually, when a child heals from chickenpox, when he or she reaches adulthood, the virus might still remain in his or her body and lies inactive, and then, it will become active again and here comes the Shingles.

Can Shingles be internal and have no rash?

Yes, and this will be called as Internal shingles. It may also involve rashes inside the mouth or ear. Eyes, brain, muscle and nerve problems are the main organs involved in this.

Internal Shingles

This attacks the nerves in the body and may also not involve rashes and blisters. It is very rare. The very common symptoms are flu-like symptoms (flu that often occurs without fever), pain and movement problems. Other symptoms are sensitivity to light, diarrhea, headaches and stomach aches. Some of the symptoms of internal shingles can be very dangerous and can cause severe complications to the body. This disease is not life-threatening as long as you have performed an early diagnosis that is measured at the right time. You can control this easily and will prevent further spread of the infection.

Diagnosis, Signs and Symptoms

  • Flu-like symptoms but no fever
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Headaches
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach aches
  • Numbness
  • Movement problems
  • Pain
  • Burning or tickling sensations where the rashes will appear

The prevalent ones:

  • Oral pain where blisters or lesions are inside your mouth and the pain will affect your eating.
  • Lymph node swelling happens when your body’s immune system is resisting the virus. It is found in the groin area, underneath the arms or side of the neck.
  • Encephalitis – occurs because Shingles attacks the nerves of (also others that are connected) the brain which will result into swelling and inflammation of the brain. If you are experiencing this symptom, visit a doctor immediately because this might lead into a life threatening condition.

Tests to identify the Shingles virus

If the symptoms are not obvious in some patients especially the immunosuppressed ones, to detect Shingles, physicians will perform one or more tests. Also, the tests will usually aim to distinguish herpes simplex virus and varicella-zoster virus.

The tests that they do are: Immunofluorescence Assay, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and Virus Culture.

Immunofluorescence Assay is performed by using UV rays applied to cells taken from the zoster blisters. Presence of antibodies can be identified depending on the specific characteristics of light seen through a microscope. It is thought to be cheaper, faster and more accurate than performing a virus culture.

Virus Culture – taking specimens from the blisters, spinal fluid or fluid inside the blisters. For vaccinated patients, this is useful to determine if the internal shingles infection was caused by a natural virus or by the vaccine that they had taken before.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is performed to identify the infection in the central nervous system (brain and nerves). It replicates a piece of the DNA of the virus up to millions of times until the virus can be detected.

COMPLICATIONS

Internal Shingles Complications

ComplicationsProblems
Postherpetic neuralgiaBurning and throbbing nerve pain, symptoms include extreme sensitivity to light touch and temperature change, numbness, itching, headaches and sudden or occasional pain. Worse, the affected person might experience muscle weakness or become paralyzed due to uncontrolled muscle movements.
Ramsay Hunt SyndromeFacial nerve paralysis (facial palsy) and having a rash on mouth or the ear.

Also, it may be accompanied by other frequent signs and symptoms such as hearing loss, facial weakness or face drop, nausea, tinnitus, nystagmus (oscillation of the eyes) and vertigo (type of dizziness).
Hutchinson’s SignVesicles on the tip of the nose, or vesicles on the side of the nose are involved from facial herpes zoster - ophthalmic herpes zoster

Skin - Melanonychia, Periungual hyperpigmentation.
Neurological problemsBalance problems, hearing problems, facial paralysis or inflammation. These conditions can be very dangerous and can result to coma or death.
Loss of Vision (Ocular or Optical Shingles)Lack of sensation in the eye, pain, redness, swollen eyelids, blurry vision, discharge from the eyes, and temporary or permanent blindness.
Other internal organsBlisters to affect internal organs including lungs, gastrointestinal tract, central nervous system and the brain. Pneumonia and other breathing problems can occur if the lungs become affected.

Postherpetic neuralgia

Postherpetic neuralgia is a persistent nerve pain that occurs to some patients within 2-4 weeks after healing from Shingles or often referred to as post-shingles pain.

If you are still experiencing pain after your shingles rashes are cleared up, you might have caught this.

After healing from Shingles, the zoster virus still remains in the patient’s body. It invades the bloodstream and damages the nerve fibers thus, become confused resulting in sending uncontrolled and inaccurate signals to the brain which causes burning and throbbing nerve pain.

As of the present, nobody knows why some patients are experiencing this and why some are not.

Symptoms

Aside from the mentioned burning and throbbing nerve pain, symptoms include extreme sensitivity to light touch and temperature change, numbness, itching, headaches and sudden or occasional pain. Worse, the affected person might experience muscle weakness or become paralyzed due to uncontrolled muscle movements.

Patients will experience sleeping problems and fatigue. Postherpetic neuralgia lasts in one month or if severe, may last up to one year.

internal shingles signs and symptoms

Image from Flickr

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

Also caused by varicella zoster virus, RHS is known as auricular herpes zoster or herpes zoster oticus when referring only to the ear rash. It is a rare neurological disorder and can be characterized by facial nerve paralysis (facial palsy) and having a rash on mouth or the ear. Same with postherpetic neuralgia, Ramsay Hunt Syndrome occurs when the previously zoster virus becomes active again and spreads to the facial nerve.

There is often pain in the ear. Also, it may be accompanied by other frequent signs and symptoms such as hearing loss, facial weakness or face drop, nausea, tinnitus, nystagmus (oscillation of the eyes) and vertigo (type of dizziness).

Sometimes, people find it difficult to distinguish Ramsay Hunt Syndrome from Bell’s palsy in early stages but in general, RHS tends to be more serious and severe than Bell’s palsy. Also, RHS has rashes/blisters while Bell’s palsy don’t. Not all cases of RHS has rashes but it can be still RHS as long as it was caused by zoster virus.

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome Diagnosis

To tell easier and accurately if you really have a Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, your physician will.do one or more of the flowing:

Physical Examination

  • The doctor will observe you especially your face and ear to know if the symptoms are present.

Hearing Test

  • Tested through tuning forks or audiometry (wearing earphones in usually a soundproof booth / room)

Otoscope Ear Examination

  • Your doctor will check your auricle (visible part) and ear canal for lesions (that might indicate the varicella-zoster virus’ presence) using an otoscope.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test

  • It involves caloric testing and tracking a moving object or field to be able to determine the degree of vestibular impairment.

Fluorescein Eye Strain

  • Used to detect cornea damage and the outer surface of the eye by using orange dye (fluorescin) and a blue light.

Electromyography

  • A nerve conduction test using contact pads or fine-scale conductive probes to determine facial nerve damage and its potential for recovery.

Lumbar Puncture

  • When diagnosis is not clear, in rare cases, a spinal tap is used. After numbing with an anesthetic, from the spinal column, a cerebral fluid is taken by using a spinal needle to test it for evidence of zoster virus.

Blood test, MRI, CT (Computed Tomography) Scan, and Eye test (checking dryness and change of vision).

Hutchinson’s Sign

If for vesicles on the tip of the nose, or vesicles on the side of the nose are involved from facial herpes zoster, it precedes the development of ophthalmic herpes zoster thus, implies the involvement of the nasal branch of the nasociliary nerve that raises the specter of involvement of the eye.

If for the skin, it involves the pigmentation of the proximal nail fold which is also known Melanonychia. It also suggests subungual melanoma when there is pigmentation in the paronychial area or known as Periungual hyperpigmentation.

Neurological problems

Balance problems, hearing problems, facial paralysis or inflammation might be experienced after suffering from a shingles outbreak and may permanently damage the nerves.

These conditions can be very dangerous and can result to coma or death. No worries, these are rare but being prepared will be better.

Loss of Vision

Optical shingles or Ocular shingles is crucial and includes any of these symptoms such as lack of sensation in the eye, pain, redness, swollen eyelids, blurry vision, discharge from the eyes, and temporary or permanent blindness.

Additional symptoms and signs are: severe ocular pain, tingling of forehead, conjunctival episcleral and circumcorneal conjunctival hyperemia, corneal edema, marked eyelid ederma and photophobia.

Its complications include cataract, glaucoma, keratitis (inflammation of the cornea), uveitis (inflammation of uvea/middle layer of the eye) and other corneal problems.

If you are experiencing these (even the minor ones), do not self-medicate and you must seek a doctor’s help immediately.

Other internal organs

It is possible for the virus especially the blisters to affect internal organs including lungs, gastrointestinal tract, central nervous system and the brain. Pneumonia and other breathing problems can occur if the lungs become affected.

Internal Shingles Treatment

Drugs, treatments, home remedies and vaccines

For you not to be surprised, the frequently advised drugs by the doctors are opioid painkillers, anticonvulsants, capsaicin skin patches, lidocaine skin patches, antidepressants and steroids. For treatments, these are TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), and Spinal cord or peripheral nerve stimulation.

Aside from capsaicin skin patches, you can avail, capsaicin cream.

If you are in your home and are not planning to buy prescribed medications yet, go for topical analgesics and anesthetics to reduce skin oversensitivity by mixing aspirin into an absorbing cream or lidocaine cream.

Antiviral drugs like Acyclovir, Famciclovir or Valacyclovir can be taken to restrict the virus from replicating.  Normally, it will take 2-5 weeks for internal shingles’ symptoms to be fully resolved. The ones who might show severe symptoms of it are the elders and children.

Ice pack or heat treatment application is temporarily effective in reducing pain. Doing this can help the patients to reduce their urge to scratch their skin.

Internal Shingles pain relief

The pain of shingles especially the internal one is unbearable in its severity. All patients with shingles are given medications that can minimize pain. The pain of herpes zoster affects not only your sleep, mood or work, but also, your quality of life. This often leads to fatigue, loss of appetite and feeling of depression. If you have:

Medicines for Internal Shingles pain

Internal Shingles pain severityMedicines
Mild painOpioids such as Morphine, Tramadol and Fentanyl.
Severe painDarvon, Codeine, or one of the Codeine derivatives such as Vicodin or Percodan.

In order to control shingles pain further, you should take advice from an experienced doctor in homeopathy so he or she can examine your pain and then will prescribe a treatment for it.

Is it contagious?

Some people think that shingles is caused by a virus and viruses are contagious but, it is not a contagious disease though it is caused by the same virus which is responsible for Chickenpox. We can say, Shingles is a second outbreak of the chickenpox virus in the body but it cannot cause other forms of herpes. However, shingles contains infectious VZV and people who have not had chickenpox before can develop easily this virus from daily interaction to patients with Shingles. Shingles can only be spread by direct contact to lesions of the patients. Otherwise, you have minimum chance to develop an infection. For the patients, they can still go outside and perform normal activities like daily work or going to school as long as they prevent spreading the disease by good hygiene and covering their lesions properly.

Shingles in general

Who gets it?

Generally, it is happened in adults especially from ages 50-60 but it does not mean that young people would not be affected.

Aside from aging and weak immune system, medications, stress, various treatments particularly cancer and, if their mothers have shingles during their late pregnancy or had a chickenpox themselves (affected adults) during childhood can also be causes of Shingles. The main cause for this awful and alarming disease is the Vacirella-zoster virus. This virus belongs to a group of viruses called herpesviruses and it hides in the nervous system after the occurrence of initial infection and travels down to the nerve cell fibers to cause a renewed infection.

Difference between Herpes Simplex and Herpes Zoster

Both of these are herpes viruses but different in class and type.

Herpes Zoster or Varicella Zoster-Virus, causes skin rashes or blisters, and is the main culprit for chickenpox and shingles, while Herpes Simplex causes small painful fluid-filled blisters on the eyes, mouth (cold sores), lips and genitals.

Is Herpes Simplex contagious?

HS is more contagious than HZ since anyone has a higher chance of getting the disease just by having direct contact with sores or even on affected areas without sores. Also, Herpes Simplex’s tests such as biopsy of a sore, blood tests, etc. must be conducted to recognize the sores.

Internal Shingles remediesMedications for Shingles

Drugs

Since you have learned above about medicines to treat internal shingles, just take these and the treatments below that can treat shingles blisters, rashes or shingles in general.

To relieve itching and keeping your skin hydrated, unscented lotions especially calamine lotion, moisturizing creams, honey or petroleum jelly are perfect. Using scented moisturizers are not recommended because these may cause irritation and allergies.

For those who want to get a vaccination, Zostavax is recommended.

Home or Natural Remedies

For the blisters to dry faster, Domeboro solution or a cornstarch paste can be applied. Ready-made oatmeal bath mixes can be bought at drugstores or pharmacies to soak your skin and have a clean, soothing, relaxing and calming experience.

Licorice and other plan extracts can soothe skin inflammation while lemon balm counters herpes viruses and aids in healing rashes or cold sores.

Eating, drinking or applying vitamin E supplements is good for healing skin problems and nerve damages. B-complex can strengthen the nervous system which can also reduce nerve pain. Vitamins A and D increase the production of macrophages and killer T-cells, and can fortify the affected person’s immunity system.

Eating a spoonful of flaxseed powder 2x a day, garlic juices or turmeric paste can speed up the healing process because of having antiseptic properties.

Conclusion

To sum these up, we may say that internal shingles can become dangerous, contagious and later on, become deadly if not treated. It must be given more attention so doctors can diagnose the symptoms and can give the patient proper medicines and treatments immediately. Shingles, internal or external, has been caused by the virus Varicella-Zoster virus, also known as, Herpes Zoster. Shingles can happen to people especially to those who already healed from chickenpox but have weak immune systems. It can occur due to the reactivation of this virus inside the body. Generally, it can cause skin rash or blisters.  In some cases, it can cause a severe systemic infection, affecting internal organs of the body and the central nervous system. Doctors often prescribe antiviral medications such as Acyclovir (Zovirax®), Valacyclovir (Valtrex®), and Famciclovir (Famvir®) for its treatment. In most cases, it has been advised that antiviral drugs should be taken within 3 days or 72 hours from the time of the first sign of shingles. To endure pain, doctors may suggest antidepressants. Healthy diet or breathing exercises at home, taking regular meditation, yoga, or tai chi classes will help patients to deal with it. Having a strong immune system and avoiding processed and artificial foods as possible are the simplest methods to prevent having this.

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Shingles Pain Relief

shingles pain reliefAside from seeing the disgusting blisters, an affected person can also experience itching and pain. This is frustrating and you definitely don’t want this to happen so read this Shingles pain relief post and you will surely know what to do if you or your loved ones especially your grandparents were struck by this disease.

Where is Shingles coming from?

Shingles, or herpes zoster, is characterized by skin rashes with burning or shooting pain along a nerve or on a single area of the body. The rashes consist of pustules filled with infectious liquid, which slowly dry, flake and fall off. It occurs due to the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus, or chickenpox virus as it is commonly called, which lies dormant in the roots of nerves. Shingles is most common in adults over 60 years of age. Like other viral diseases, there is no proper cure for shingles and the available treatment is to cure the symptoms and reduce the duration and intensity of the rashes. This skin disease automatically clears up within three to five weeks from the first appearance of rashes. The disease is also contagious and care must be taken while coming in contact with infected individuals.

A tingling or burning pain may experience even before the first appearance of the blisters or rashes. Depending on which nerve is affected or involved in the reactivation of the virus, the pain can even be mistaken for headache, stomach pain or even angina (heart or chest pain). This pain continues throughout the duration of the disease and sometimes is so debilitating that the patients are unable to do any work or even rest comfortably.

What are the painkillers or common drugs to relieve pain?

Doctors generally prescribe antiviral drugs like acyclovir or valacyclovir within the first 1-3 days after the rash begins to develop. These antiviral medicines control the length of the episode, and also the degree of severity of blisters and pain.

In almost 15% of the individuals who develop shingles, the pain persists for weeks, months or even years after the rash has disappeared. This complication, known as postherpetic neuralgia, is due to damage to the associated nerve or nerve inflammation during shingles. A 7 to 10 day antiviral course also reduces the chances of complications like post-herpetic neuralgia, facial paralysis, blindness, etc.

To curb pain, patients can take commonly available OTC painkillers like ibuprofen or, in case of extreme pain, can even ask their physician to prescribe a stronger narcotic pain medication like morphine or oxycodone. Some doctors recommend local anaesthetics like Lidocaine, which are available as topical creams or slow-release patches.

Anaesthetics numb the affected area so that the patient does not experience pain for some time. Anaesthetic patches and creams can also be used to treat pain in cases of postherpetic neuralgia complications. In addition, steroid and non-steroid based anti-inflammatory medicines and antihistamine drugs can help soothe the rashes, reduce itching and pain.

Injections that can block pain nerve activity are also available on prescription and can be administered by doctors or qualified practitioners.

Nontraditional treatment includes the use of anti-depressants and anticonvulsant medicines to control pain. Both of these drug types depress nerve activity and, therefore, reduce nerve related pain, which is typical of shingles. All of these medicines allow the affected individual to be more comfortable by considerably lowering pain.

Since the pain associated with shingles is intense and almost unbearable, doctors recommend natural or homemade pain remedies in addition to traditional treatment to help ease the patients’ discomfort.

I just want an over-the-counter medicine as of this moment. What would you recommend?

The most widely used over-the-counter medication for shingles is the capsaicin extract. Capsaicin is extracted from pepper or chili and is very effective for relieving pain. Topical application of capsaicin causes nerves to release all the neurotransmitters that transmit pain signals to the brain and burn out the receptors. Initially, this causes pain to increase, but then the nerves become incapable of transmitting pain signals for a while and the individual cannot feel pain in that area. Capsaicin, pain patches, creams and powders are readily available at local chemist shops or drugstores.

If a patient decides to buy medicines later, what home remedies can he or she do?

Soaking the affected area in cool water or using a cool compress can provide relief from pain and itching for a short while. Some patients find that dipping their skin in hot water intermittently for 30 second periods or using ice packs for short durations numbs the skin from pain thus, giving them temporary comfort.

Washcloths soaked in apple cider can be applied to the blistered areas and are found to be effective in alleviating pain and burning.

Zinc powder mixed with aloe vera juice or vitamin E can be used topically to control pain. Vitamin E also prevents nerve damage and complications that may arise from shingles. Herbal oils, like peppermint, are also helpful in pain relief. Other unscented moisturizers or lotions also provide relief from itching.

Oral vitamin B12 supplements have been proven to reduce nerve related pain and are quite effective. Proteolytic enzymes are another effective treatment for shingles pain. Proteolytic enzymes, or protein digesting enzymes, occur naturally in the pancreas of animals (including humans) and also in many plants. Commonly used proteolytic enzymes are papain from papayas, bromelain from pineapples and trypsin or chymotrypsin from animal sources. These enzymes are available at pharmacies as tablets. These can prevent viral replication and therefore, reduce pain, inflammation and hasten healing.

How can patients make themselves heal faster and what are the preventive measures for this?

Some patients include more proteins, dairy and vegetables in their diet. Avoiding sugar is strongly advised so shingles will heal faster. Others opt for colloidal oatmeal baths to calm inflammation and help them relax. Vitamin supplements have been found to be beneficial and can aid in controlling shingles symptoms in many ways. However, once an individual contracts the disease, the infection will take at least three weeks to clear from the body and no treatment can eliminate it immediately. Pain medicines, itch relievers, natural remedies and other symptomatic treatments can only help make the period more bearable for the patient.

Wear cool and comfortable clothes so that the air supply to the blistered skin is not cut off, and keeping this area clean and dry not only allows you to become more comfortable but also prevents bacteria from infecting it.

Shingles vaccination, also known as Zostavax, might also be a solution. It has now been approved for individuals older than 60 years. While this vaccine is not 100% effective in preventing shingles, it reduces the chances of this disease’s occurrence by 50% and drastically decreases the intensity of its symptoms. Even some individuals who had Zostavax might still be struck by shingles, they will surely have less painful rashes and their blisters will also clear up quicker compared to those who didn’t get the vaccination.

Assuming that this post have satisfied your curiosity, you can now do your own shingles pain relief or have clues about what will the doctor advise or prescribe you. If you have complications or are allergic to other medicines, don’t hesitate to tell your doctor.

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