Herpes zoster or varicella-zoster virus is a common condition that affects many people who suffer pain, burning and fatigue.
Let’s see what shingles is, how it appears, what is its risks, how to diagnose it and finally how to treat it effectively to avoid recurrence.
What is shingles disease
Shingles is a skin rash with vesicles in a very limited radius accompanied by acute neuritis.
In other words, it is very painful and disabling.
What causes shingles?
Shingles is caused by reactivation of the varicella zoster virus (VZV) arising from the ganglia of the posterior sensory spinal nerve roots and sensory ganglia of the cranial nerves.
The subject affected by shingles therefore sees the varicella virus reappeared, surely encountered years before during childhood and remained latent in the lymph nodes since this primary infection.
The major cause of this resurgence is immunosuppression, a consequent weakening of the immune system which can be induced by disease or infection or can result from drug treatment.
Who are at risk for shingles?
- Age is a major factor. People over 50 are more likely to suffer shingles.
- The individual immunocompromised either by a disease (cancer, AIDS), or by immunosuppressive treatment, or by recurrent infections or even simply in times of intense stress or emotional tension.
- Transplant patients who are on immunosuppressive therapy so that the immune system does not attack the transplanted organ.
- People with autoimmune diseases or any disease affecting the immune system are likely to develop shingles.
- Suffering from a chronic disease (lung or kidney) also predisposes to this resurgence of the virus.
- Shingles affects women more easily than men.
The phases of shingles
The development of shingles occurs in three consecutive phases:
1- The pre-eruptive phase
This is actually a neurological phase because nerve pain occurs before any vesicle eruption.
As a rule, the pain is very sharp and is accompanied by paresthesias, tingling, numbness of the sensory nerves in the area of the affected skin.
This first phase results in a feeling of general malaise coupled with headache, fever, fatigue and myalgia.
It can last up to ten days during which the person complains of a stabbing and precise pain without showing any skin symptoms.
2- The eruptive phase
The pain increases further when the herpetic vesicles appear in clumps.
The skin is very red on a very defined path never exceeding half of the body (mid thorax, mid lumbar …), covered with herpes pimples.
A lymphadenopathy starts at the same time, it is the hypertrophy of certain lymph nodes placed near the affected area.
The vesicles filled with a clear liquid when they erupt tend to cloud slowly announcing their upcoming rupture.
The thorax and lumbar region are the preferred site of shingles.
This second phase lasts a maximum of 3 days.
3- The chronic phase
With the eruptive phase over, the lesions begin to slowly dry out.
Post herpetic neuralgia remains, pain along the shingles route persists and is likely to continue.
This recurring pain, sometimes intermittent, is all the more noticeable in people of more advanced age.
Shingles can also leave a scar during this chronic phase which lasts a long time, sometimes a month, sometimes even years.
This is a herpes zoster virus affecting the eye.
This shingles requires prompt treatment as it can severely affect vision and even lead to blindness.
Like common shingles, it spreads only to half of the face, affecting only one eye, covering an area from the forehead on the cheek.
The eyelid is very swollen, conjunctivitis infects the eye which is very red and injected.
Keratitis (infection of the cornea), scleritis (severe inflammation), or episcleritis (mild inflammation) may also develop.
This shingles can do considerable damage and may lead to glaucoma, retinitis…
It must therefore be treated urgently.
Auricular herpes zoster can be both external, internal or in the middle ear.
Again, prompt treatment should be initiated as hearing loss can result.
It associates a facial paralysis with the herpetic vesicles named Ramsay-Hunt syndrome.
How shingles is diagnosed
The viral attack is detected by a serological test (PCR), an antibody test or a Tzank smear (cytodiagnosis) in order to confirm the involved virus.
How shingles is treated
In fact, the management of shingles really depends on the eruptive phase.
Treated within 72 hours, antiviral therapy such as acyclovir or valacyclovir can be initiated.
Beyond these 72 hours, shingles can be treated only if new lesions appear.
So, it is necessary to intervene very quickly to contain this affection because a late antiviral treatment is almost ineffective.
Post herpetic neuralgia can be relieved with pain relievers.
What are home remedies for shingles?
To say that there are grandma’s remedies to treat shingles would be presumptuous.
Still, there are some simple ways to relieve the pain, burning, and possible itching.
1- Apply ice
The cold can numb the symptoms, but be careful not to apply ice to open lesions to avoid spreading the virus.
2 – Petroleum jelly
Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to the rash and cover with a cotton bandage.
It acts as a protective barrier. It heals lesions while hydrating the skin deeply.
3- Eucalyptus essential oil
Eucalyptus essential oil has antibacterial and antiviral properties. It is also an excellent immune booster.
In shingles, it noticeably relieves pain, repels infection, and helps healing.
Dilute 2 drops of eucalyptus in a teaspoon of vegetable oil and apply the solution directly to the rash.
What herbs boost your immune system
Shingles occurs when the immune system is weakened.
Whether it is illness, stress, severe fatigue, he reacts exactly like the herpes simplex and reactivate as soon as possible.
It is therefore very advisable to seek to strengthen your immunity so as not to leave the door open to this dormant virus.
Here are the best natural supplements:
Elderberry is renowned for its antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal properties.
It is a powerful ally to stimulate the immune system and fight against viruses and infections
Mullein has antiviral and antifungal properties.
The best way to incorporate it to boost your immune system is to combine mullein extract with your drinks.
Ginseng is renowned for its antioxidant properties. It significantly reduces inflammation while stimulating the immune system.
Astragalus has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
It greatly helps fight infections while improving the immune response.
Most of the time, the person suffering from shingles will be referred by relatives or even sometimes by their physician to a magnetizer, a faith healer who can relieve the pain.
Most cartesian minds will refuse this solution. Others will be guided by their pain and will consult to find pain relief.
As with medical treatment, the key is not to wait to find a healer and take this step.
Magnetism is often controversial, but it is good to know that it still heals many areas even if we do not always understand the process of fire cutter healer.
If you had chickenpox in your youth, you may be the next shingles victim.
This dormant virus lodged in the ganglia is likely to wake up at any time, stimulated by illness, stress, fatigue, medication, etc.
It can be recognized flawlessly by its skin rash appearance only invading half of the part it targets. You will always have a shingles on one eye, one ear, one shoulder…
You must be very vigilant when you suffer from this condition and do not leave aside the urgent visit to your physician to start antiviral treatment in 72 hours after the rash.
Shingles are very painful and can cause complications depending on its location.
Don’t let this hang around.
Chose medicine or faith healer, treat it fast and boost your immune system to prevent recurrence.
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