what is shingles? How to cure it

Shingles and chicken pox were earlier considered to be distinct ailments, but recent research has revealed that both are caused by the same virus belonging to the herpes family, called varicella zoster. Often, the virus that causes chicken pox remains dormant in the body of the person who has already suffered from it once, and may get reactivated several years later to attack the skin and nerve cells of a particular part of the body, causing shingles. Shingles is a condition that mostly affects people over 50 years of age or those whose immune system is weakened by chronic ailments. The initial symptom of shingles is a tingling, burning sensation in the affected part of the skin, which is followed by the eruption of inflamed rashes and lesions on one side of the body, which may be itchy and quite painful. The rashes become filled with pus and form blisters. This is also accompanied with headache, fever and chills. In a couple of weeks, the blisters begin to form scabs. Both can be prevented if a person is vaccinated against these diseases in his/ her infancy. If you have never had chicken pox, it is advisable that you stay away from people who are suffering from skin rashes or chicken pox, as the virus that causes this condition can easily spread through close physical contact with an already infected person.

However, there are a few simple home remedies for relieving the symptoms of shingles and chicken pox. Since the body's natural defenses are low during the viral infection, you should include natural sources of vitamin B and C in your diet. Eating lots of green leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach and cabbage and citrus fruits every day helps in speedy recovery. You may also have vitamin supplements in consultation with your doctor to strengthen your immune system. In order to relieve pain and irritation, you should dip a piece of soft cotton cloth in ice-cold water and dab the blisters with it for 10-15 minutes every couple of hours. This moisturizes the skin as well as lessens the pain and itching. If there are pus-filled lesions on the surface of the skin, wipe them very gently with a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water twice every day. This prevents the infection from spreading to other parts of the body. If the pain at the nerve endings becomes unbearable, you should grind two aspirin tablets to powder and add this to half a cup of chloroform, and apply this mixture on the affected area. While the chloroform cleanses away oil, dirt particles and dead skin cells accumulated in the blisters, the aspiring begins to desensitize the nerve endings temporarily but quite effectively.

answered by M W

It is common knowledge that once you have chickenpox, you don't have them ever again. Your body develops enough antibodies to stop it from ever recurring again. Almost all children have chickenpox in their childhood. However, if you've had them, the virus that causes the ailment remains in your body forever. In normal circumstances, the virus known as varicella zoster remains dormant and is not malicious. However, in case your immune system is weakened, this virus may affect you. This is called shingles and it is very painful.

Though there is no particular age at which shingles can affect someone, it has been generally observed in the elderly. The most likely causes of shingles are a sudden increase in stress, excessive intake of alcohol, using steroids over a long period of time, or some of the treatments for cancer.

If you have shingles, you should keep your distance from people who you know are low in their immunity-especially other sick elderly people, babies and even pregnant women.

The initial symptoms of shingles are usually itching and burning of skin and eventual rashes. These rashes turn into blisters which eventually dry off and form scabs that fall off leaving pockmarks. While medical attention is imperative, there are home remedies that you can try out in order to relieve your pain.

Use cold compression in affected areas to soothe the blisters. You could even soak a towel in cold water and then wrap the towel around the affected area to give instant soothing relief. Also rest is very important in shingles. Shingles can leave you very weak so it's better to give your body the much deserved rest it requires.

Try as much as you can to avoid scratching the blisters. It's difficult because of the continuous itching and burning, however, it is also very important. Scratching will only burst the blisters and prolong the healing time. If your blisters have healed, apply a cream that contains capsaicin which is derived from hot peppers. However, do not use this cream without your doctor's permission because in certain cases, it might actually worsen your case and give you additional malaise.

While you are still struggling with your ailment, try to not come in close contact with people you could infect. If you know someone who's recently come out of chemotherapy, or someone who's undergoing treatment for cancer, try to stay away so that you won't pass the infection. You could also try wearing clothes that help you cover the infected areas.

answered by G M

A painful rash that occurs due to a viral infection is known as shingles. It is also referred to as herpes zoster, and its appearance is like a circle of blisters that envelops from the middle of one's back around one side of the thorax to the sternum. Other areas of the body can also get affected including the neck, face or scalp.

Shingles causes excruciating pain, and at first the cause of the rash might not be instantly apparent. But as soon as the revealing blisters begin to develop on one side of the body, it is easily distinguished as shingles.

The virus that causes the painful blisters is known as the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. After an individual experiences chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus remains in a condition of biological rest in one's nerves. In some individuals, the virus may reactivate as shingles after a number of years.

Shingles is not a grievous skin condition, but the fact that it causes much pain is quite distressing. In some cases, the rash can lead to a debilitative situation known as postherpetic neuralgia. This condition causes the skin to be in a painful state and sore to touch for months or even years, even after the rash has cleared up.

Today, there are vaccines available that can help to cut down the danger of shingles. And initial treatment may help in shortening the shingles infection while minimizing the chance of complications. The two main vaccines that can help in preventing the occurrence of shingles are - the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine and the shingles (varicella-zoster) vaccine.

The Chickenpox (Varicella) vaccine is now standardized in childhood as an immunization vaccine for the prevention of chickenpox. This particular vaccine is advocated for children between the ages of 12 months and 18 months. Interestingly, the chicken pox vaccine can also be given to older kids and adults who have never experienced chickenpox.

Although the chickenpox vaccine does not ensure a 100% prevention of chickenpox or shingles, it can cut down the chances of secondary complications and bring down the distressfulness of the disease.

The Shingles vaccine or the varicella-zoster vaccine is recommended for adults above the age of 60 who have experienced chickenpox. Similar to the chickenpox vaccine, the shingles vaccine also cannot guarantee that shingles will never occur. However, it is possible that the live vaccine is far likely to bring down the course and severity of shingles, if it occurs, while reducing the risk of postherpetic neuralgia.

answered by G M

Shingles is a nerve infection and affects the area of skin related to that particular nerve, usually a band of skin. Shingles is caused by varicella-zoster virus, the same that causes chickenpox. People who have had got chickenpox can develop shingles later in life. For people who have encountered chickenpox as a child; the virus has the capacity to remain dormant in the body and resurface later (sometimes, years later) in the form of shingles.

answered by K C

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