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