Shingle, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection caused by the varicella zoster virus. Characterised by skin rash that appears on one side of face or body, this infection can be very painful. The virus that causes shingle is the same that causes chickenpox. After you get relief from chickenpox the virus stays dormant inside your body and can be triggered anytime to cause shingle rash. Although anyone can develop this infection, people who are 50 years or older or have weak immunity are more vulnerable.
While you can't catch shingles from someone who is suffering from it, it is possible to get infection by the virus if you haven’t had chickenpox. You can although prevent yourself from catching the infection by taking shingles vaccine. Pregnant women and those who are suffering from diseases like cancer, AIDS or tuberculosis aren’t eligible for this vaccine.
Symptoms of the infection develop in stages. First it starts with headache, which is followed by itching and pain. Soon rashes develop on the area of pain and in days they turn into blisters. Usually the blisters heal in 2 to 4 weeks, but they do leave a scar. In case the rash is widespread and painful, it is advised to seek treatment as it might cause complications. Risk of eye damage is high if you develop infection near eyes and leave it untreated.
Although there is no cure for shingles, there are treatments that reduce the risk of complications and prevent the infection from spreading. Prescription antiviral drugs like Acyclovir, Valacyclovir and Famciclovir can ease the symptoms. Pain numbing cream, gel, spray or skin patches are also available on the market.
You can also treat shingles at home using natural shingles solution like Zymaderm for Shingles. This topical solution contains a powerful terpene oxide compound that heals blisters and reduces pain. While you use treatment for shingles, it is advised to take a cool bath or use wet compresses on your blisters to help relieve the itching and pain.