Shingles are widespread, yet is also a particular disease. Shingles are not contagious, but it is related to the same virus that causes chickenpox. A shingles infection develops in two stages: chickenpox (primary infection) and herpes zoster (secondary condition). Put simply, shingles and chicken pox are two steps involving the same general illness. Shingles develop when there is reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus in the body.
Similar to other illnesses caused by the herpes virus, shingles permanently stay in the body. After being afflicted with chickenpox a single time, there is a lifelong immunity to the virus. However, when the immune system weakens, the virus can reactivate and strike again. The virus has several different names including: Varicella zoster, Herpes zoster, or Herpes virus type 3. The latter virus type is similar to the herpes simplex virus type 1, which is the common cause for unpleasant blisters or cold sores on the lips.
The varicella-zoster virus is very contagious. In instances where there is contact, there is 100% probability of infection if there is no prior existing immunity. In most cases, the varicella virus first enters the human body in childhood. This leads to varicella or chickenpox with fever, rashes on the body, and high temperature. Within 5-10 days, the human body begins to fight the virus and develops lifelong immunity. However, the virus is able to hide within nerve cells called dorsal root ganglia and can stay there for years, often for a lifetime. Accordingly, when the immune system is compromised, the virus can be reactivated and strikes again as shingles.
Fortunately, compared with the herpes simplex virus, the herpes zoster virus is significantly less resistant to environmental conditions. Ultraviolet radiation, as well as mild heat, can quickly kill the herpes zoster virus. Scientists suggest that the herpes simplex virus and the varicella virus demonstrate a common ancestor because they share a roughly similar structure.
Because the immune system usually suppresses herpes zoster, reactivation can occur in people with weak or compromised immune systems, such as older individuals.
Ultimately, it can be expected at some point in time that the herpes zoster virus will strike if there was a previous herpes viral infection. If this happens, it is impossible to completely cure the body. However, there is the possibility that further development can be controlled whereby avoiding complications.
The probability of developing shingles increases with age. Seniors develop shingles more often than young or middle-aged adults. According to statistics, one out of every 10 adults >70 years of age will suffer from shingles.
The total duration of shingles from symptom onset to the complete disappearance of scabs on the skin usually takes 20-30 days. In some instances, shingles can clear up completely within 10-12 days. For most cases, shingles rashes appear on one side of the body. In other cases, all maculopapular lesions, vesicles, and scabs localize within the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. In some rare cases, scabs can be found on hands, feet, and head. With reactivation of the herpes zoster virus, severity of symptoms gradually decreases, but the risk of complications increases.
Treatment of the herpes zoster virus is done in two ways: suppressing viral activity and alleviating symptoms. Only a doctor can prescribe a proper course of treatment and medicine. A doctor should always be consulted prior to taking any medications. Taking medications without a prescription can lead to serious complications in the form of postherpetic neuralgia, kidney failure, or other detrimental consequences, including death.
There are many antiviral drugs available to fight the herpes virus. Drug selection will determine the course of treatment. In contrast to treatment aimed at the herpes simplex virus, even with antiviral drugs, the development of painful symptoms cannot be prevented in cases involving the herpes zoster virus. The primary goal of these targeted drugs is to avoid the development of postherpetic neuralgia. If medications are taken early, the risk of residual pain is less than 10-15%.
Zovirax is known as the most effective medicine to fight against herpes virus type 3. This medication was developed from Acyclovir. To treat the herpes zoster virus, one tablet of Zovirax should be taken five times per day for the duration of the illness. For patients with demonstrating complications or compromised immunity, double doses can be prescribed as two tablets (400 mg) five times per day or intravenous drug administration.
While taking these medications, multivitamins, and vitamins B1 and B12 should also be consumed. A doctor can also prescribe other antibiotics and pain medication. Zovirax is available at pharmacies without a prescription at an affordable price.