What is Herpes Zoster?

This is not true Herpes because the virus which is responsible for the infection is not a stain of HSV. The virus responsible is called Varicella zoster virus or VZV which causes Chickenpox. It’s popularly referred to as Shingles or Zona.

Herpes Zoster rash

The acute stage of infection by this virus is called chickenpox, but it has a chronic stage too. After the pox stage subsides, the virus goes into hibernation to erupt later at a suitable time. The virus seeks to refuse in the nerve cell bodies till the secondary eruptions take place. These eruptions are quite different than the pox stage and the symptoms are very different.

Why is Shingles named Herpes Zoster?

  • Both HSV and VZV share a common origin, subfamily Alphaherpesvirinae.
  • Both these viruses have similar eruptions, watery blisters in crops.
  • The eruption occurs on a single side, on skin supplied by one set of spinal nerves. When the blisters subside the area may experience nerve pains.
  • After the first infection, they stay latent and erupt again when the individual’s vitals go weak.
  • They both predominantly affect the nerves and travel through the nerves.

One can’t get infected with zoster by someone who has it. However, there’s a chance that a person with Shingles can give the virus to another who hasn’t had Chickenpox vaccine or Chickenpox.

Herpes Zoster symptoms

Symptoms of shingles come in stages. First symptoms to appear may be acute photophobia with a mild headache. There may be flu-like symptoms without marked fever.

After this stage, one may feel itching, tingling, or pain in localized spots. Then, a rash may occur a few days later in a band or strip-like area. Then the rash turns into crops of blisters. The blisters fill with watery fluid and a few days later they crust over. The blisters take 2 to 4 weeks to heal. It may leave scars. Some get only a mild rash, and some do not get any rash at all.

These symptoms accompany dizziness. It affects clarity of mind and it takes effort to focus one’s mind on mental works. This may come with blurry vision with heaviness of head. If you have any of these problems from Shingles, you must immediately consult your doctor.

Treatment for Shingles

Herpes Zoster has a vaccine which is considered the most effective way to handle this infection. This minimizes the chances of infection and post-herpetic neuralgia.  If you can prevent this infection it’s the best thing you can do to yourself.

The second best alternative is antiviral drug treatment, but the treatment needs at least a week to ten days to handle the rash and post-herpetic neuralgia if taken within 72 hours of appearance of the rash.

To heal the rashes and minimize pain you need to have good home care in addition to medication. You must keep the sores clean at all times and take care that the crust does not break too often. Take medicines regularly as directed by the doctor and take plenty of rest. If pain increases considerably, you can start a course of painkillers.

You can keep the following points in mind to minimize your chances of getting Shingles.

  • If you had chicken pox in the past you are prone to it.
  • People above 50 years of age may contact Shingles easily, so stay vaccinated.
  • If you have a weak immune system you are more chances of getting infected, so get the vaccine.
  • If you already contacted Shingles getting vaccinated reduces pain and further chances of infection in future.

This sickness is not as prevalent as other strains of herpes. The number of cases reported every year ranges from 1.2 to 3.4 cases per thousand. However, in people older than 65 years, the reported cases show an increasing trend, from 3.9 to 11.8 per thousand individuals per year.