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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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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.

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Shingle Rash

An acute, unilateral, self-limiting inflammatory disease of the central nervous system, specifically the cerebral ganglia and the ganglia of the posterior nerve roots, and peripheral nerves caused by the Varicella Zoster virus which presents initially as a red rash that later accumulate fluid to form vesicles is a disease called Shingles. It is also referred to as Herpes Zoster, or simply, Zoster. Beginning as red, slightly elevated, circumscribed lesions that, in the course of 7-10 days, develop into vesicles and later dry up forming crusts in the characteristic and definitive Shingle Rash.

CHICKEN POX VS. SHINGLES

Varicella Zoster virus is the main culprit of both these two clinically distinct diseases. Primary infection of the mentioned virus causes Chicken Pox. It is characterized by vesicular rash or lesions developing of the face, trunk and extremities. The rash usually starts midline of the person’s body and spreads towards the sides and extremities. Herpes Zoster, also well known as Shingles, results from the awakening or reactivation of endogenous latent Varicella Zoster virus. This form of disease is characterized by a painful, unilateral, vesicular rash, which usually occurs in a restricted band along the skin following the underlying affected nerve pathway.

 

CLINICAL MANIFESTATIONS OF SHINGLES

The Shingle Rash

The rash of Herpes Zoster starts as erythematous papules (red, circumscribed elevation of skin with no visible fluid), which quickly evolve into clustered vesicles (small, fluid-filled skin sacs or blisters measuring less than 5 millimeters in diameter) or bullae (fluid-filled skin blister more than 5mm in diameter). Within three to four days, these fluid-filled lesions become more elevated and occasionally hemorrhagic. In immunocompetent hosts, or those people of strong immune system, the Shingle Rash will dry up and crust by 7 to 10 days and are no longer considered infectious.

The inflammation is usually unilateral, involving the thoracic, cervical, or cranial nerves in a band-like configuration. The blisters are usually confined to a narrow region of the face or trunk. The region of the skin affected that follows the underlying affected nerve path is called the dermatome. The Shingle rash is often found clustered and confined within a dermatome. This dermatome can remain depigmented and hypoalgesic, or having little to no sensitivity to pain.

Herpes zoster in generally healthy adults is usually localized and benign. The Shingle rash and inflammation is commonly limited to one dermatome in healthy hosts, but can occasionally affect two or more neighboring dermatomes. However, in immunosuppressed patients, the disease may be severe and may be acutely disabling.

Acute Neuritis or Nerve Pain

Pain is the most common symptom of Herpes Zoster. Approximately 75% of affected people experience prodromal pain on the affected dermatome where the Shingle rash will subsequently appear. Prodromal pain, which may radiate over the entire region supplied by the affected nerves. The pain may be burning, lancinating (tearing or sharply cutting), stabbing, or aching. The pain may be constant or intermittent preceding the Shingle rash for several days to weeks. Some individuals describe the pain only when the affected region of the body is touched or induced by simple mild brushing against the skin.

This pre-eruptive pain precedes the rash for several days and is often misdiagnosed. It is often mistaken as Myocardial infarction, dental pain, biliary or renal colic and other gastrointestinal disturbances such as duodenal ulcer and appendicitis.

Atypical Pain without Shingle Rash

This phenomenon is called “zoster sine herpete”. The nerve pain is not accompanied nor preceded by a skin lesion eruption, though this is noted in very rare cases only.

 

COMMON NERVE PATHWAYS AFFECTED

Before getting into the specifics of the nerve pathways affected by this dreaded Herpes Zoster, let us first review the basics of the Peripheral Nervous System and nerve paths. A picture will be presented below to clearly illustrate the different groups of peripheral nerves, namely the Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar and Sacral nerves, and the body regions it corresponds. These body regions are the so-called dermatomes that the nerves are responsible in both the sensory and motor abilities. 

Nerve Dermatomes

 

Cranial Nerves. When the virus invades the cranial nerves, the skin lesions, inflammation and pain is felt in most the face. Patient may have eye pain, or may experience the opposite, which is loss of feeling in one or both eyes. Infection in the cranial nerves often contaminate the ophthalmic nerves thus the eye involvement. The infection may even threaten one’s vision. The rash may appear starting from the scalp, around the eyes then down to the tip of the nose, called the Hutchinson’s sign. The prodromal pain will be felt upto the ear area and may can temporary hearing loss of some ringing in the ears. Loss of taste and dry mouth may also be detected.

Cervical Nerves. The Shingle rash is usually seen starting from the back of the neck or the nape, central line and spreading to either left or right side of the body, to the shoulders down to the forearm. This dermatome is supplied by the cervical nerves. The skin lesions will be contained in this dermatome, usually along a single band. The inflammation and skin lesions may cause pain with the slightest touch or movement.

Thoracic Nerves. The thoracic nerves are responsible for the motor and sensory of the trunk, including the anterior and posterior chest, abdomen, down to just above the buttocks area. When the Varicella Zoster virus infects the thoracic nerves, the skin rash and inflammation are more likely to be seen at the above mentioned body regions. The classical pattern for shingles follows a nerve root from the spine, along a rib, to the front of the chest. The spread follows a media-distal pattern, or from the center of the body outwards to the extremities. The inflammation and skin rashes may cause pain also with the slightest touch especially with clothing with is excruciating and almost miserable.

 

TAKING GOOD CARE OF SHINGLE RASH

Avoid picking at and, let alone, scratching the skin sores. (Doing so will further deepen the sores, or maybe open up those already dried up lesions.

Cool, moist compresses over the lesions. (This can be done if doing so helps ease the discomfort. This can help decrease the itchiness because cold compresses constrict blood vessels that will therefore lessen sensory.)

Use calamine lotion after compresses, though not recommended.

Apply cornstarch or baking soda to skin blisters. (The cornstarch and baking soda can help dry up the skin sores quickly. This is not recommended especially when the blisters are open for it may contaminate the lesions. Use with caution.)

Use tap water or Burow’s solution soak. (Soaking the skin lesions help clean put crusts, decrease oozing and soothe the itchy skin.)

 

Remember, the Shingle rash will get the best out of you. But knowing what to expect and what to do will lessen the burden.

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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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Side effects of shingles vaccine

side effects of shingles vaccine Medical world describes shingles as local skin disease virus causes. Our experts later discovered that the virus has at least two similarities with varicella zoster. It is an illness we know for its responsibility in causing chicken pox that turns every child life into a nightmare. Furthermore, varicella zoster is also a unique virus that will not completely leave your body once it has successfully infected it. It stays in your body, and when the ‘perfect time’ comes, it will come again in a new form as shingles, as we know it. This is why vaccine is needed.

In 2013, CDC reported at least one million cases of this disease and most of them come from elderly people. At this rate, it is normal when people get afraid of it even after the discovery of its cure.

 

When do you need vaccine for this skin disease?

Varicella zoster virus can attack anyone at any time, but the risk will double when you reached 59 or 60 years old. There is no valid medical proof that can tell us why this virus ‘choose’ people at this age, but the most logical reason will lead us to degeneration issue. In the medical world, it is a common thing for people at 59 or 60 years to suffer from degenerative disease. It is a condition when our body function and/or structure will increasingly deteriorate, due to various reasons from natural reasons, lifestyle, eating habits, or other causes. That is the reason people at this age become more vulnerable to this infection than other age segments which have better body function and structure than them.

It is the higher vulnerability than another age division that also leads to conclusion that people at this age segment needs the vaccine more than other people. However, even though some medical studies revealed that the cure can reduce the risk up to 50%, it is also essential to raise our awareness of its possible side effects. At present, several medical studies found out that there are at least two categories of this medication side effect you should worry: mild and severe side effects. Do not get loose with the name because their stupid name does not reflect the real threat they bring.

 

Mild Side Effects of this Vaccine

Among all cases US CDC has recorded, sore throat becomes the most common side effects shingle patients ever reported as well as breathing problems, fever, flu symptoms, and swollen glands. However, the list does not end there. There are also other cases when people reported less severe side effects than the previous five symptoms. Their reports include muscle pain, diarrhea, joint pain, headache, mild skin rashes, redness, warmth, itching, swelling and bruising on particular skin area where doctor injected the vaccine into their body. However, even though we have more than one possible side effects of the cure of this disease, the number is still minor if we compare to total people who ever took the treatment. Before it came to public usage, shingle vaccine has passed various medical tests which guarantee both its safety and efficacy. In any case when side effects take place, it is likely that the symptoms will stay this way.

 

Serious Side Effects

Under rare circumstances, serious side effects of shingles medication may take place, but the percentage will stay as low as under 20%. Among all serious side effects that people ever reported to their doctor, severe allergic reaction becomes the most common issue.

At present, we know two common causes of allergic: either your body cannot deal with a particular threat, or it has weak auto-immune system like people with anaphylaxis have. Most medical experts describe anaphylaxis as a severe allergic reaction, as a result, of mediator substance release from specific white blood cell. The objectives may vary among people, but the most common cause is either non-immunologic or immunologic mechanism that finally triggers the release of this mediator. There are various anaphylaxis symptoms medical world ever recorded, but there are some specific symptoms that only happen when someone suffers from side effects of this ‘magical’ liquid. These symptoms include face swell, warmer skin than normal, skin redness, dizziness, hives, breathing difficulties, irregular heartbeat, and slow pulse. You should understand the critical idea. It does not take all the symptoms for the side effects to work. So, even though you see only one or maybe two symptoms, it is a good idea immediately to ask for medical attention. The symptoms may threaten your life at any time that even the best doctor in this world does not know precisely.

 

When You Should Stay Away From the Vaccine

Even though most vaccines we have today have the same appearance as water, it is important to remember that none of them has water as their only ingredients. Yes, it is important to have water as the solvent media, but it does not mean that water can fix every problem we have, especially when it comes to bad micro-organisms such as viruses and bacteria. Vaccine is micro-organisms we have already weakened to improve our auto-immune system. In addition, there are perhaps some ‘additional’ parts doctors put into the bottle to increase its effectiveness. This is the precise location of the main problem. Some ingredients may trigger an allergic reaction for some people. Avoid using this cure if you have allergic symptoms to its ingredients, such as neomycin, gelatin, or other ingredients.

The same restriction also applies if you have weak immune system. Injecting the liquid into your body when you have weak auto-immune system will only weaken your body.

It is important to consult your doctor before taking any medical action because there are some drugs, such as steroid that require you to stay away from other drugs until the process is complete.

You should also put shingles vaccine at your black list if you suffer from cancer or if you are currently taking anti-cancer treatment such as chemotherapy. The liquid will only cause damage to your body, instead of bringing a solution to you.

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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.

References:

Shingles on the Face

Shingles on the face

Image credit: http://phil.cdc.gov/

Having shingles on the face is one the most depressing moments of a person’s life. Whenever one is waking up, upon looking on the mirror, he or she will first see the horrible rashes, worse, if the shingles rashes are all over the face. Treating shingles on the face is not only about treating the face alone but also the whole body must be treated since the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), the culprit behind chicken pox, is infecting adults especially the older ones who had a chicken pox before. Medications and doctor’s advice must be sought to get rid of this annoying and dreadful shingles. Be beautiful again when shingles are not present anymore.

What is Shingles?

If you have clicked on our blog post, you will be now more informed about this awful viral skin disease. Even when chicken pox was healed, the zoster virus remains in the nervous system and this virus might be coming back to attack again as Shingles. however, in physical appearance, this is usually milder than chicken pox but internally, this is usually worse than chicken pox because it also causes nerve pain and it is more dangerous if not treated properly. It is not advisable to self medicate if shingles hits the head area because the nerves and other face parts such as eyes, nose and mouth are the most critically connected to the brain.

Why face and torso are the most targeted parts?

There is no official medical report about this. Since chicken pox and shingles were caused by the same virus, chicken pox has rashes all over the body while shingles rashes appear only on certain areas of the body. The affected area has been targeted because this is where the virus has been reactivated.

Will the rashes erupt on my whole face or only the side?

Shingles on the face often appear on the nose and the eye. Rashes also erupt on one side of the face, head/scalp, mouth, eye or ear. It is rare that shingles will occur on the whole face.

What to expect?

Shingles on the face or head may cause motor function and facial muscle weakness since it may involve the cranial nerves (nerves in the brain exchanging information involving head and neck)

You may feel itching and tingling on the would-be shingles area. After 1-5 days, rashes will form and these will turn into clusters of blisters filled with fluid and with crust over.

New blisters may arise up to a week. People with lesions may feel spasms even at a gentle touch.

On the eye part known as optical shingles, the zoster virus can cause painful eye inflammation and cause temporary or permanent loss of vision which is very alarming. The condition where shingles affects the cornea area is known as zoster keratitis. This includes redness and swelling of the eye, drooping eyelid and inflammation of the cornea. Whenever one has this condition, seek a physician immediately because if this isn’t treated, blindness will likely occur.

If shingles hit one of the ears, hearing problems may occur. Aside from shingles on the ear, shingles in tongue and inside of the mouth may cause tasting, eating and ulcer problems. Biting and chewing will be difficult for the affected person.

It is known that the upper area of the face is the most prone area when it comes to face shingles. Even the condition of the area is mild, one must see a doctor.

How will the shingles clear up?

Shingles can be treated with antiviral medicines and painkillers prescribed by doctors. If at home, non-prescription painkillers such as analgesics, acetaminophen, topical anesthetic or topical lotions containing calamine, anticonvulsants, optoids, antidepressants, aspirin or ibuprofen can ease the pain caused by shingles. Regular hand washing, avoiding picking and scratching blisters, making the crust fall off naturally will prevent infection of shingles.

Use cool and moist compress to ease the pain or itch. While waiting to have medicines, corn starch or baking soda may also be applied to dry the sores for a shorter healing process.

To clean away crusts and decrease oozing, the affected area must be soaked with tap water.

To reduce inflammation and complications, antiviral medicines might be prescribed such as Aciclovir, Valaciclovir and Famciclovir. During the healing stage, shingles will dry up forming scabs or crusts and will begin to fade within 7-10 days. Most recovered with no visible scars so no need to worry about facial appearance.

Some may resort to vaccines to prevent the re-occurrence of this disease.

To prevent shingles from coming back or from getting it, aside from eating healthy foods, living in a clean and non-polluted environment, one must avoid direct contact to the shingles or blisters area.  Immune system must be paid attention. Regular medical check-ups even annually will definitely help to track your health condition.

Will I still experience post-shingles pain and what causes it?

Maybe. Having postherpetic neuralgia or pain after shingles rashes might continue for several months to more than a year.

The nerve functions were disrupted by shingles. It became confused and uncontrollable resulting in sending pain signals to the brain making the person feel the intense pain. Scar tissue forming near the nerves might also be a reason why this happens.

Most will likely to experience pain during the post-shingles stage if the rashes have occurred on the fifth cranial nerve known as the trigeminal nerve, (largest of the cranial nerves).

How will the post-shingles pain go away?

Depending on the case because different treatments work on different folks. It will go away through a single treatment or combination of skin patches or topical treatments such as Qutenza patches (Capsaicin) and Lidocaine.

Aside from the treatments mentioned above, TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) and Spinal cord or Peripheral nerve stimulation can help in treating the pain.

Conclusion

Shingles on the Face can be a nightmare but with knowledge and prompt treatment, it can be healed. Clear skin will come and self-confidence can be regained in facing the world.

SHINGLES: A Dreadful Skin Condition

Shingles virus showing treatment and symptoms.

Having acne, skin rashes or anything that goes bad on skin can be really annoying and these skin diseases can make one’s self esteem become low. These skin conditions will not only make people uglier but also can affect one’s health since Shingles was caused by a viral infection. Here is a simple but very detailed guide to know this skin disease.

What is Shingles and how will a person catches it?

Shingles (also known as zoster or zona) is a skin disease caused by a viral infection which results to a painful rash. It is primarily happened in older adults especially from ages 50-60 but it does not mean that young people would be exempted. Aside from aging, weak immune system, stress, medications, cancer treatments and if their mothers have it during their late pregnancy or having a chicken pox themselves during childhood can also be causes of Shingles. The verdict for this painful, awful and alarming skin disease is the Vacirella zoster virus. This virus belongs to a group of viruses called herpesviruses. Herpesviruses hides in the nervous system after the occurrence of initial infection and travels down to the nerve cell fibers to cause a renewed infection.

Vocirella zoster virus is the main culprit of the popularly known viral skin disease which is the Chicken pox. When a person has healed from a chicken pox, the zoster virus remains in his or her nervous system. Upon aging, there’s a possibility that this virus will strike again and here comes the shingles.

 

Shingles Symptoms

On a single part of the body, redness and painfulness can be a red flag for shingles. You may feel itching and tingling in this area. After 1-5 days, rashes will form and these will turn into clusters of blisters filled with fluid and with crust over. It looks like a chicken pox, the difference is only that chicken pox’s rashes can be seen all over the body while shingles can be seen usually only a single part whether it’s only on face, neck, back, butt, torso, etc. New blisters may arise up to a week. People with lesions may feel spasms even at a gentle touch.

On the eye part known as optical shingles, the zoster virus can cause painful eye inflammation and cause temporary or permanent loss of vision which is very alarming.

Symptoms may include headache, fever and chills, nausea, swollen glands (lymph nodes), dizziness, fatigue, malaise and heartburn or stomach ache.

Laboratory tests can be done to detect the disease. These can detect VZV-specific IgM antibody in blood. Other tests can be conducted through collecting a lymph from a blister tested by polymerase chain reaction to observe VZV DNA or through examination with an electron microscope for virus particles.

Blood work tests are not needed necessarily, a swab of fluid from the blisters can be tested in a laboratory to detect antibodies and varicella zoster virus to confirm diagnosis.

Shingles effect: Is it contagious?

Shingles is widespread and painful. It isn’t spread through coughing or sneezing but direct contact to shingles rashes can infect others. A person with shingles must also avoid close contact with people particularly the infants, children, pregnant women and anyone who doesn’t have a chicken pox before. Also those who have weak immune system and are currently ill.

The person who has shingles can cover the affected area with dressing so it will not only be healed but also it will help to minimize the spread of the virus. As the shingles becomes drier, it will be less contagious. Once the shingles becomes scabs, the person is not anymore contagious.

How to treat and prevent Shingles?

Shingles can be treated with antiviral medicines and painkillers prescribed by doctors. If at home, non-prescription painkillers such as analgesics, acetaminophen, topical anesthetic or topical lotions containing calamine, anticonvulsants, optoids, antidepressants, aspirin or ibuprofen can ease the pain caused by shingles. Regular hand washing, avoiding picking and scratching blisters, making the crust fall off naturally will prevent infection of shingles.

Use cool and moist compress to ease the pain or itch. While waiting to have medicines, corn starch or baking soda may also be applied to dry the sores for a shorter healing process.

To clean away crusts and decrease oozing, the affected area must be soaked with tap water.

To reduce inflammation and complications, antiviral medicines might be prescribed such as Aciclovir, Valaciclovir and Famciclovir. During the healing stage, shingles will dry up forming scabs or crusts and will begin to fade within 7-10 days.

Some may resort to vaccines to prevent the re-occurrence of this disease. All about vaccines for Shingles, considerations if is it right to get a shot and medicines to be injected will be discussed on another post.

To prevent shingles from coming back or from getting it, aside from eating healthy foods, living in a clean and non-polluted environment, one must avoid direct contact to the shingles or blisters area.  Immune system must be paid attention. Regular medical check-ups even annually will definitely help to track your health condition.

Remember, Health is Wealth.