Zosters (Shingles)

What Is Herpes Zoster (Shingles)?

Herpes zoster, also known as shingles, is a viral infection that affects the nerve endings in the skin. It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox (varicella-zoster virus). After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in the nerve cells near the spinal cord. In some individuals, it can reactivate later in life, causing shingles.

Shingles typically starts when the reactivated virus travels down nerve fibres and infect a body part. Sometimes it may attack eyes and area around it.

What are the symptoms of shingles?

The term "shingles" comes from the Latin word "cingulum," which means belt or girdle, reflecting the characteristic band-like pattern of the rash that often appears in people with the condition. In some cases, shingles can cause vision loss if it affects the eye or the area around the eye. The condition can be more severe in people with a weakened immune system. Shingles may be more widespread, last longer, and be more difficult to treat if the immune system is weak. The condition usually appears as a chicken pox rash.

Before the characteristic rash of shingles appears, a person may experience a range of symptoms that can include:

Pain and Burning Sensation: These may occur in the affected area before the rash appears and can be severe.

Tingling or Itching: Some people may experience tingling or itching sensations in the affected area before the rash appears.

Fever and Fatigue: Shingles can cause flu-like symptoms, such as fever and fatigue.

Headache: Some people may experience a headache before the rash appears.

After the rash appears, people with shingles may experience a range of symptoms which that can last 2-6 weeks. These include:

Fever: Shingles can cause a low-grade fever.

Headache: Some people may experience headaches, particularly if the shingles rash is on the head or face.

Chills: Chills may be a sign of a more severe infection.

Upset Stomach: This may be a result of the pain and stress associated with shingles.

How is shingles spread?

Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. In order to develop the condition, the individual must already have chickenpox in the past. Usually, shingles cannot be transferred to a person from one who has shingles. The virus can spread from a person with shingles to others who have not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine. Here, the person exposed to virus would develop chicken pox (not shingles).

Shingles can be spread through direct contact with the rash or fluid from the blisters (filled with virus particles). If a person with shingles touches their rash and then touches someone else who has not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, they could potentially spread the virus. It is also possible to spread the virus through airborne transmission if someone with shingles coughs or sneezes near someone who has not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine.

It is important to note that a person with shingles is only contagious when they have active blisters. The rash may last from 7 to 10 days. Once the blisters have crusted over (2-4 weeks), the risk of spreading the virus is greatly reduced.

An individual is not infectious before blisters appear. Those who are immunocompromised may experience a longer duration of symptoms.

What Is Shingles Treatment Like?

Shingles has no complete cure. Hence, the treatment is aimed at helping patients manage symptoms. The outbreak usually lasts 2-6 weeks. During your evaluation and consultation with the Doctors of Neuro Spine & Pain Center, you will have the opportunity to discuss your symptoms. Shingles can manifest in a variety of ways and affect different parts of the body in different patients. Therefore, it is essential to collaborate with a qualified dermatologist who can prescribe the appropriate treatment for your condition.

Treatments options for shingles include:

  • Antiviral medications
  • Topical patches or creams
  • Numbing agents or local anesthetics
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Others

Schedule Your Consultation

Book your consultation today to begin your journey towards relief from shingles. The doctors at Neuro Spine & Pain Center have extensive experience and have developed cutting-edge techniques to alleviate their patients' shingles symptoms effectively. Contact us today to find out more about our shingles treatment options in Key West and commence your journey towards smoother skin. We are eager to collaborate with you.

Best Spine Surgeons and Pain Specialists

Dr. William Schnapp

Board-certified Neurologist

Dr. Jon Gottlieb

Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Dr. Doug Hollern

Orthopedic Spine Surgeon

Jorge Lerma, ARNP


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