Herpes zoster or shingles is a viral disease , caused by varicella zoster virus or VZV, the chicken pox virus , affecting unilateral nerves , characterized by painful skin rash along with blisters limited to one side of the body, often in a stripe like fashion i.e. along the nerve path.
While it isn't a life-threatening condition, shingles can be very painful. Vaccines can help reduce the risk of shingles, while early treatment can help shorten a shingles infection and lessen the chance of complications.
Causes-- Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who's had chickenpox may develop shingles. After you recover from chickenpox, the virus can enter your nervous system and lie dormant for years. Eventually, it may reactivate and travel along nerve pathways to your skin — producing shingles.
The reason for the encore is unclear. But it may be due to lowered immunity to infections as you grow older. Shingles is more common in older adults and in people who have weak immune systems.
Varicella-zoster is part of a group of viruses called herpes viruses, which includes the viruses that cause cold sores and genital herpes. Because of this, shingles is also known as herpes zoster. But the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles is not the same virus responsible for cold sores or genital herpes, a sexually transmitted infection.
A person with shingles can pass the varicella-zoster virus to anyone who isn't immune to chickenpox. This usually occurs through direct contact with the open sores of the shingles rash. Once infected, the person will develop chickenpox, however, not shingles.
Chickenpox can be dangerous for some groups of people. Until your shingles blisters scab over, you are contagious and should avoid physical contact with:
· Anyone who has a weak immune system
· Pregnant women
Symptoms-The signs and symptoms of shingles usually affect only a small section of one side of your body. These signs and symptoms may include:
· Pain, burning, numbness or tingling
· Sensitivity to touch
· A red rash that begins a few days after the pain
· Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over
Some people also experience:
· Sensitivity to light
Pain is usually the first symptom of shingles. For some, it can be intense. Depending on the location of the pain, it can sometimes be mistaken for a symptom of problems affecting the heart, lungs or kidneys. Some people experience shingles pain without ever developing the rash.
Most commonly, the shingles rash develops as a stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or right side of your torso. Sometimes the shingles rash occurs around one eye or on one side of the neck or face.
Risk factors--Anyone who has ever had chickenpox can develop shingles. Most adults in the United States had chickenpox when they were children, before the advent of the routine childhood vaccination that now protects against chickenpox.
Factors that may increase your risk of developing shingles include:
Being older than 50. Shingles is most common in people older than 50. The risk increases with age. Some experts estimate that half the people 80 and older will have shingles.
Having certain diseases. Diseases that weaken your immune system, such as HIV/AIDS and cancer, can increase your risk of shingles.
Undergoing cancer treatments. Radiation or chemotherapy can lower your resistance to diseases and may trigger shingles.
Taking certain medications. Drugs designed to prevent rejection of transplanted organs can increase your risk of shingles — as can prolonged use of steroids, such as prednisone.
Complications--Complications of herpes zoster includes--
Postherpetic neuralgia. For some people, shingles pain continues long after the blisters have cleared. This condition is known as postherpetic neuralgia, and it occurs when damaged nerve fibers send confused and exaggerated messages of pain from your skin to your brain.
Vision loss. Shingles in or around an eye (ophthalmic shingles) can cause painful eye infections that may result in vision loss.
Neurological problems. Depending on which nerves are affected, shingles can cause an inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), facial paralysis, or hearing or balance problems.
Skin infections. If shingles blisters aren't properly treated, bacterial skin infections may develop.
Homoeopathic medicines are ideal for the treatment of herpes zoster and it cure this condition safely without any side effects.
RHUS TOXICODENDRON 30—Rhus tox is one of the top remedies for herpes zoster. It is considered a routine remedy for herpes zoster with much itching , burning, and tingling pains .
RANUNCULUS BULBOSUS 30-Ranunculus bul. Is an excellent remedy for herpes zoster with intense itching. The patient feels burning, bruised, and stitching pains. When the eruptions dry up there is much itching occurs. Here the vesicles are bluish in color.It is sensitive to touch and cold air. The complaints worse in open air, motion, damp weather, change of weather or temperature.
ARSENIC ALBUM 30-Arsenic alb is another top remedy for the treatment of herpes zoster. It is suited to suppurating herpes with violent burning pain. There is burning and shooting pain , which is worse at night , especially 12 to 4 am. The crusts are large and deep which bleed when removed. There is thirst for small quantities of water at short intervals.
MEZEREUM 200- Mezereum is another excellent remedy for herpes zoster where the herpes that follow the course of intercostals or supra orbital nerves. There is intolerable itching and sharp lightening like pain , which is sometimes boring in character. The vesicles are shining or fiery red . Ulceration forms thick scabs under which purulent matter exudes, in chronic cases.
HYPERICUM PERF. 30-Hypericum is best for herpes zoster and it is prescribed when painful vesicular eruptions occurring along the course of spinal nerves in a unilateral way or on the face , nose and eyes.Herpes is present in circular patches.
CEDRON 30-Cedron is prescribed in herpes zoster with radiating pain
DULCAMARA 30-Dulcamara is best for herpes zoster and it is prescribed for suppurative herpes due to cold and by living in damp houses.
CALENDULA OFFICINALIS Q-After the vesicles and crusts have disappeared , 50 drops mixed with 30 gms of Vaseline may be applied to the affected part to soothe the skin.