The Basics: Understanding Shingles
Anyone who has been infected with the chicken pox is at risk for the development of shingles. Shingles is caused by a recurring infection of the Varicella Zoster virus, also known as the herpes zoster virus.
Initial infection of the Varicella Zoster virus is known as the chicken pox. Once the body has healed from the chicken pox infection, it is common for reoccurring infections to take place. This is because the Varicella Zoster virus is an expert at deceiving the immune system, and is capable of remaining dormant within the body for years. This period of dormancy is ended, typically by some environmental stimulus, causing the infection to thrive once again.
This is the condition of shingles, the reoccurring infection of the Varicella Zoster virus.
Prognosis: Living with Shingles
In healthy individuals, shingles is rarely life threatening and doesn't come with severe risk factors. The signs and symptoms typically subside within a few weeks of the current infectious outbreak. However, shingles can prove to be fatal for individuals with immune system deficiencies. Currently, there exists no exact method for the accurate prediction of reoccurring Varicella Zoster infections.
Shingles: Signs and Symptoms
There are many signs and symptoms of shingles.
- Extreme Skin Sensitivity
- Red Rash
- Fluid Filled Blisters
- Abdominal Pain
- Upset Stomach
Shingles: Pain Management
The first symptom of shingles is most often recorded as pain; severe sensitivity of certain areas to even the gentlest of touch. The shingles rash is very similar and resembles that of chickenpox; however, it is commonly more painful with less itching.
There are many methods of pain management of shingles; environmental, physical, and emotional. It is common for shingles outbreaks to occur due to stress. It is common for shingles to reoccur due to contact with another individual carrying the Varicella Zoster virus. By preventing this stress or contact, you decrease your overall chances of outbreaks.
Commonly, once an outbreak has occurred, there are natural remedies available, and over the counter pain medications are advised, in addition to bed rest and increased fluid intake.
Shingles: Management of Skin Damage
Many of the signs and symptoms of shingles involve the skin; itching, tingling, burning, red rash, and fluid filled blisters. It is important to properly care for your skin during outbreaks. Keep covered up as much as possible because the rash is very contagious. Excessive itching and touching of the infected areas can lead to skin damage and scarring. There exist natural remedies for decreasing these symptoms, in addition to over the counter anti itching topical agents.
Shingles: Current Research
The National Institute of Health (NIH) conducts research and studies on shingles. The NIH is also responsible for providing funding through grants for shingles research to other medical institutions. Currently, the majority of research involves the development of new shingles treatment methods and its associated complications. Other organizations involved in shingles research include; The Varicella Zoster Research Foundation in New York, The American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) in California, and The National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain in Texas.