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Shingles is a viral infection that is caused by the chickenpox virus. Rashes and blisters are often present on one part of the body when a person has shingles. It is treatable and can be somewhat contagious. Most people who have shingles are 60 years old and up, although younger people are still at risk for contracting the virus. Anyone who has ever had chickenpox and those who just had a mild case of it are at risk. Those with weakened immune systems due to stress or other diseases and their therapies are also at risk for catching shingles.
The signs of shingles typically appear on the arms, legs or back of the person infected. Although rashes can also be seen on the neck, scalp or face in some cases. The first sign is a rash that is in a strip or band form on part of the body, which then turns to blisters that fill with fluid and then crust over. The blisters are contagious before they crust over. It is best to stay away from a person with shingles, even if chickenpox has occurred before, people are still at risk.
Herpes zoster ophthalmicus (HZO) is a form of shingles that affects the skin around the eye and sometimes can be found on the eye itself. HZO is caused by the varicella-zoster virus but it just reactivated in the eye. It causes a rash and blisters around the eye and on the forehead of just one side of the face. A sign that this could be coming is that a few days prior to the breakout there will be pain on the face where the blisters and/or rash will be forming.
This virus cannot be prevented, but can be expected in older people who have been exposed to or have had chickenpox before. One quarter of all people who get a reactivated version of herpes zoster get it in their eye.
The rash looks similar to the blisters of chickenpox but is not spread throughout the body, only one side of the face, just like other forms of shingles.
People who get HZO may develop inflammation of the eyes, loss of vision or impaired vision and constant unbearable pain. In other, rare cases, people who had HZO also developed conjunctivitis, keratitis, uveitis, and ocular cranial-nerve palsies. Someone with HZO can infect other people with the chickenpox virus. This can cause chickenpox in people who have never had chickenpox or it may cause shingles in others who have previously had chickenpox.
HZO is prevalent among people and can be serious condition. It can lead to blindness if not treated by a doctor or ophthalmologist when signs are present or if it is believed to be onset. The sooner that HZO is treated, the less time that it will affect a person's life.
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