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Shingles

  • Posted on- Mar 21, 2017
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Shingles is a skin infection that results in the formation of multiple skin rashes and boils. A virus known as varicella-zoster causes shingles. Rashes due to shingles generally appear on one side of the face or body. Shingles usually last for 1-3 weeks and it is possible that it may not occur more than once in the same person. There are more than 1 million cases of shingles per year in India. Around one in three individuals will develop shingles at least once in their lifetime. Shingles is also known as herpes zoster. It is mandatory to get zostavax vaccine twice- First between 12 to 15 months and second between 4-6 years of age to prevent the risk of viral infection in children.

Causes of Shingles

Shingles is caused by the virus varicella- zoster. However, there is no exact cause known why varicella-zoster starts multiplying. Zoster virus is a type of virus that causes chickenpox. Once you have had chickenpox, this virus remains into your nerve roots and may become active again resulting in rashes known as Shingles. Shingles is quite common among older adults as their immune system weakens when they reach the age of 60. Weak immune system makes a person more susceptible to shingles and other viral infections.

Risk factors of Shingles

These are the certain risk factors that may increase the chances of developing shingles in some individuals.

  • Undergoing or underwent chemotherapy
  • People with weak immune system
  • People with AIDS, HIV, or Cancer
  • Being 60 or older
  • People who had an organ transplant
  • Side effects of steroids or other medications


Symptoms

In initial stages, a patient may feel pain on one side of the body where shingles appear in small patches. Other common symptoms of shingles are:

  • Itching and burning sensation
  • Fluid filled boils that drain easily
  • Rashes on the face and ear
  • Reoccurrence of blisters
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Fever and chills
  • Muscle weakness

Severe symptoms of shingles include

  • Extreme pain in the ear that may result in loss of hearing
  • Frequent dizziness
  • Dying taste buds on your tongue
  • Inflamed skin
  • Bacterial infection

Diagnosis of Shingles

A dermatologist can diagnose shingles with a physical examination of boils and rashes. A patient should tell the doctor about their medical history. Sometimes a dermatologist may order a lab test which involves taking a sample of fluid from the boils. The sample is further observed under microscope. This type of diagnosis will help in determining the suitable treatment for shingles.


Treatment

There is no permanent cure available for shingles, but medicines can help to ease the symptoms and prevent infection from spreading further. Anti-inflammatory and anti-viral medicines can reduce pain, swelling, and speed up the recovery process. Numbing creams, gels, patches can treat itching and prolonged pain. Apply cold packs directly over the shingles to get relief from pain and irritation. Apply calamine lotion and take colloidal baths to ease pain and itching. Avoid scratching boils and apply baking soda to help the sores dry quickly.

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