Everyone will get herpes zoster at least one time in their life. It is a painful skin rash. It usually occurs in adults at the age from 60-80 and people who have weak immune system because of stress, injury or other reasons. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in every 3 people in the US will have herpes zoster in their life. For everyone has herpes zoster before, it can be get better and cannot come back again. Although this disease can be cleared up within two or three weeks, it can lead more serious health problem.
What is herpes zoster?
Herpes zoster (Shingles) is a common infection. It’s caused by the varicella-zoster and characterized by a painful skin rash with blisters in the part of the body. This virus is the same virus that cause chicken-pox. After the chicken-pox infection is pass, it remains dormant in nervous system in a long time before reviving as herpes zoster. In some cases, this virus stays dormant forever and doesn’t cause any symptoms.
Herpes zoster maybe not spread to someone who has this disease already. But it can be transmitted to another person who hasn’t had chicken pox and who hasn’t gotten the chicken pox vaccine. While this disease is more common among the old, children may also get it. Because the old and children have poor immune function, they have high risk to get herpes zoster. How the virus remains in the body or reactive is not well understood.
Herpes zoster’s signs and symptoms
Its symptoms usually have 3 stages. At the first time, you may have a headache, you can feel flu but it’s not fever. It isn’t nonspecific and may result in an incorrect diagnose. After that, you can feel pain, itching or tingling in a certain area.
In most cases after one to two days, but sometimes as long as three weeks, the initial skin rash is appeared. The pain and rash can be occurred at the same time and on the face, eyes or other parts of the body. The rash can be clusters of blisters after that. It takes 2 to 4 weeks for the blisters to disappear and they may leave scars.
At that time, you can feel dizzy or tired or even you have painful rash on your face and rash can be spread. It can be caused eye problems if a rash or blisters occur near your eyes or on the tip of your nose. While herpes zoster maybe cause pain, trouble, it’s necessary to watch signs for serious complications. These complications can include:
- Skin infections, which appear easily from opening blisters and maybe severe in the body.
- Hearing loss or paralysis. If herpes zoster affects the nervous system in your head, it can lead to in parts of your face or hearing loss. But it can be full recovery when treated early.
- Brain inflammation like meningitis and encephalitis, which is file-threatening and serious.
- Eye damage, which can appear if you have blister too close your eyes.
- In few patients, this disease can lead to infection of various organs of the body.
How can treat herpes zoster?
There is no treatment for herpes zoster, it can be controlled and shorten the length of the infection by medication. Doctor will give you the right methods and medicine to treat this disease. Here is some kind of medicine that can be given:
– Anti-viral medication includes: famciclovir, valacyclovir and acylclovir, which can decrease pain and rise recovery.
– Analgesics or narcotic medications is to less pain.
– Anticonvulsants or tricyclic antidepressants is to treat continued pain.
– Antihistamines is to cure itching.
– Capsacin is to reduce the danger of painful nerve, which appears after herpes zoster’s recovery
– Anti-inflammation drugs used for swelling and easing pain.
Beside the treatment with medication, good home care also can help you control herpes zoster better. You should focus on skin sores and keep them clean, don’t share your personal items with other people.
Although this disease is less contagious than chicken pox, directly contact with the blister will increase the risk to get it.
How can prevent herpes zoster?
It is said that people who had chicken pox already don’t need to get vaccine because they got this disease and it never comes back. But getting vaccine is necessary for you. It is the best way to help you prevent from developing serious symptoms of herpes zoster. All children and older people should be encouraged to receive vaccine. It can reduce the risk to get herpes zoster by more than a half. Not only that, it can decrease the pain of this disease. You can still get the vaccine to prevent a future outbreak even if you have had it before. Although the vaccine is not 100% effective at preventing herpes zoster, it can reduce your chances of getting it. A further benefit of herpes zoster vaccine is much less severe and will most likely be without complications.
Unluckily, in case you will be infected herpes zoster, it’s good for to do these steps to prevent the transmission of it:
– Keeping your wound clean.
– Avoiding touch with other people who don’t have chicken pox before or who are weak.
– Washing your hands frequently.
Although herpes zoster is less spread than other diseases, you also will have a chance to get it and complications can be occurred. That’s why you should protect yourself by getting vaccine and improving your health more.