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.