Proper treatment of you shingles outbreak is essential to minimize the chances of severe complication development. There are several conditions associated with shingles as complications, each having different degrees of severity; postherpetic neuralgia, bacterial skin infections, encephalitis, hearing problems, blindness, and facial paralysis.
Approximately twenty percent of all individuals that contract the chicken pox virus and have a reoccurring outbreak of shingles, is at risk for the development of Postherpetic neuralgia. Postherpetic neuralgia is caused by damaged nerve fibers that cause the pain from the shingles outbreak to continue, even after the rash and blisters have healed.
Bacterial Skin Infections
The skin is an important part of the immune system. It is essential to protect the body from bacterial infections. Two common symptoms of shingles are a red rash and fluid filled blisters. Failing to care for these skin conditions in a proper and timely manner can lead to bacterial skin infections. Most bacterial skin infections are treatable, however, avoiding infections is possible by proper care of the skin by maintaining its cleanliness.
While encephalitis is rarely associated with shingles, encephalitis is caused by viral infections. Shinges is caused by a viral infection of the Varicella Zoster (herpes zoster) virus. Encephalitis is an acute brain inflammation. Acute is defined as a condition that has a rapid onset (short amount of time for development) with a short course. Short course defined as opposite of chronic, chronic meaning long term. The development of encephalitis is more commonly noted with individuals with weakened or compromised immune system functioning.
Hutchinsons Sign: Eye Problems and Blindness
Hutchinson's Sign is most commonly associated with the development of a shingles blister on the nose. This is associated with the ophthalmic nerve, capable of causing a severe eye infection and even permanent blindness. These complications are rare, and more commonly noted in individuals with compromised or weakened immune systems. It is also more commonly noted with individuals that did not properly maintain skin cleanliness. The shingles virus is more likely to thrive and survive with improper care.
Facial Paralysis and Hearing Loss: Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
Shingles outbreaks that occur on areas of the face can lead to the development of hearing loss and even facial paralysis. Facial paralysis is the loss of movement of certain facial muscles, while rare, has also been associated with shingles outbreaks limited to facial areas. Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is associated with hearing loss/pain and facial paralysis, as it is the shingles infection of the facial nerve. Facial paralysis is yet another very rare complication with shingles and again, it is usually associated with individuals having immune system deficiencies/malfunctions.
Shingles: Complication Overview
While there are many potential complications with the shingles virus, the majority are rare, more commonly associated with individuals with compromised or weakened immune systems. There also exist certain risk factors associated with an increased risk for the reoccurring of the shingles virus. Healthy individuals do not commonly have complications with the shingles virus, and the outbreak has concluded after a few weeks of the blisters and rash healing. It is essential to maintain skin cleanliness to ensure that infection duration is the shortest possible, and to attempt prevention of complications associated with shingles. Prevention is not always possible, however, it is possible to minimize the overall risk of complication development.
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