Herpes Zoster, also known as herpes, is an infection by the chickenpox virus. Anyone who has had chickenpox can get Shingles. The virus survives in an inactive form in the nerve roots and when it reactivates, shingles develops. People with chickenpox 20%‘s shingles.
The cause that awakens and activates the virus is unknown. A weakness in the immune system that allows the body to deal with infections causes the virus to multiply and spread through the skin along the nerve. It usually occurs over the age of 50, although even children can develop Shingles. Factors such as illness, trauma, and stress can cause shingles.
Anyone with a weakened immune system for any reason can get shingles. The disease tends to be severe in these people. Shingles are common in cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and AIDS, where the immune system is weakened. Cancer chemotherapy and radiotherapy, drugs used in organ transplantation, long-term use of cortisone can suppress the immune system.
What are the signs of shingles?
The first sign of shingles is pain and sensitivity in the form of burning and stinging in a certain area of the skin. This pain begins in the area of the rash 2-3 days before the rash develops. In the meantime, headache and fever may occur. Later in this area, redness and transparent water bubbles form in groups. These blisters last up to 2-3 weeks. These blisters fill with dark blood, then crust over and begin to heal. The pain may last longer.
What is the intensity of the pain?
The pain is often severe enough to require the use of pain medication.
In which part of the body does shingles usually appear?
Shingles usually occurs on the trunk and buttocks. But it can also be seen on the face, arms and legs. Since it can cause permanent damage to the eye, careful care is required when the eye is also affected. If a water bubble has formed at the tip of the nose, this indicates eye involvement. In this case, an examination should be made by an Ophthalmologist.
What are the complications of shingles?
After the skin rashes regress, the pain of shingles may remain. Especially in elderly patients, the pain remains for months and years. Starting treatment in the early stages of shingles can prevent the development of pain.
Bacterial infection can develop in the water bubbles and this prevents the wounds from healing. If pain and redness increase in the rash, be sure to consult your doctor. In this case, antibiotic treatment may be required.
Another situation is the spread of shingles to the whole body and other organs. In this rare condition, the immune system is suppressed.
How is shingles recognized?
The diagnosis is made by the typical appearance of water blisters and the presence of pain on one side of the body before the rash begins. If necessary, a sample of the water bubbles can be taken for examination.
Is shingles contagious?
Shingles can be transmitted to people who have not had chickenpox before, but these people develop chickenpox, not shingles. Shingles is less contagious than chickenpox. Shingles becomes contagious when the blisters burst. Newborns and those with immune system deficiency are prone to develop chickenpox by getting the virus from people with shingles. Patients with shingles rarely require hospitalization and treatment.
Does the disease leave scars on the skin?
The disease leaves scars in people with impaired immune system, in the elderly, and in those who develop secondary bacterial infection.