DO YOU SUDDENLY HAVE A BURNING SENSATION ON A CERTAIN AREA OF THE SKIN FOLLOWED BY AN OUTBREAK OF A RASH AND BLISTERS? IT COULD BE SHINGLES.
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What is a shingles and what should you look out for? LEARN EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW HERE:
Shingles is caused by the reactivation of the latent Herpes Zoster (HZV) virus. This is the same virus that also causes chickenpox; however, the herpes simplex virus infection usually only covers a small area, whereas the HZV virus often affects entire areas of the skin and the underlying nerves - hence the name: shingles.
Usually only one half of the body is affected, but it can occur from head to toe. It begins with a burning and/or tingling sensation in the affected area, followed by the appearance of a reddened rash, and then an outbreak of small blisters. The disease can be very uncomfortable and requires appropriate treatment.
The virus remains in the human body for life after a chickenpox infection, and can flare up as shingles at any time, caused by a weakened immune system, medication or stress. Regardless, it is important to assess if an undiagnosed underlying condition is the cause of the reactivation of the virus.
Depending on how the symptoms develop, different treatment options are available. It is important that treatment is started quickly. A three-part treatment consists of: First, adequate pain relief is administered. Second, antiviral treatment should begin. This means that the virus can no longer divide and can therefore no longer spread. To do this, it is necessary to start treatment as soon as possible. Third, a focus on skin protection and the subsequent healing process.
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Usually shingles is cured without any further problems. It is important to use sun protection and take good care of the wounds therefore allowing the skin to heal without any problems. If shingles appears on the face, the optic or auditory nerves could be affected, which in turn can lead to complications. In that case, an ophthalmologist or ENT should be consulted. Zoster neuralgia can also occur, especially in the cases of shingles on the face or in older patients. This is manifested by severe pain or itching, which can persist for a long time. This consequence can usually be prevented by starting treatment immediately after diagnosis.
There has been a vaccination against shingles available for several years. It is recommended for immunodeficient patients and patients over the age of 50.