Shingles /Herpes Zoster

Definition:

A painful, blistering rash that occurs in a very specific and characteristic pattern. It is caused by varicella, the same virus that causes chicken pox. The first symptom is usually one-sided pain with tingling or burning and it usually presents before the onset of the rash. Even after the rash is treated there can be residual discomfort at the site.

What Causes Shingles /Herpes Zoster:

After someone has chicken pox, the virus remains dormant in the body. At times of stress or as we age and the body becomes slightly less immune-competent, the virus can become active. Stress and immunosuppressive medications lead to an increased potential for the rash to break out. The rash usually clears up without treatment in about 2 weeks.

Management Strategy:

The focus of treatment is to limit the severity and duration of the pain and to reduce complications. Prevention with a vaccine can help limit outbreaks in people but for the most part, oral medications started early provide the best symptomatic relief.