Herpes Zoster – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Definition

Shingles Herpes Zoster is also known as Shingles. It is a painful, blistering rash caused by the chickenpox (varicella) virus. This virus affects only a limited area of skin, and makes you feel surprisingly tired, run down, and even depressed.

Anyone who’s had chicken pox can develop this eruption. The reason is that the same virus that causes chicken pox causes herpes zoster.

People who have had organ transplants and are taking drugs to ward off transplant rejection may also be more chances to affect by herpes zoster as well as those with diseases that affect the immune system, such as AIDS.

The eyes are sometimes affected by herpes zoster. This is due to the fact that the eyes are connected to nerves that may be infected with the herpes zoster virus.

Causes

Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV). Herpes zoster, or shingles, is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After an episode of chickenpox, the virus becomes dormant in the body.Most people get chickenpox from exposure to other people with chickenpox. It is most often spread through sneezing, coughing, and breathing.

The immune system is also weakened by certain diseases like cancer and HIV and by certain medications like chemotherapy, corticosteroids and drugs to prevent rejection of organ transplants.

Symptoms

The common symptoms of herpes zoster which has been seen in most of the person who is affected by it are->

  • Fever, chills
  • General feeling of malaise
  • Headache
  • Lymph node swelling
  • Vision abnormalities
  • Taste abnormalities
  • Drooping eyelid (ptosis)
  • Loss of eye motion (ophthalmoplegia)
  • Hearing loss
  • Joint pain
  • Genital lesions (female or male)
  • Abdominal pain

Treatment

Herpes is treated with an antiviral medication. Because antiviral medicines are reduces symptoms and dries up the blisters. In most people, shingles goes away on its own after it has run its course.

Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, may occasionally be used to reduce inflammation and risk of post-herpetic neuralgia. They have been shown to be most effective in the elderly population. Corticosteroids have certain risks that should be considered before using them.

Pain medicines (analgesics)which is mild to strong, may be good to control pain. Antihistamines may be used topically (direct application to the body) or orally (by mouth) to reduce itching. Zostrix, a cream containing capsaicin (an extract of pepper), may prevent post-herpetic neuralgia.

The affected area should be kept covered and dry. However, bathing is permitted and the area can be cleansed with soap and water. An aluminum acetate solution can be used to help dry up the blisters and oozing.

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