Friday, 30 July 2010

Shingles definition

The shingles (herpes zoster) is a painful skin rash that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This virus belongs to the family of herpes viruses. When initial contact causes the varicella-zoster virus chickenpox (varicella). Typical of herpes viruses is that they remain after an infection in certain areas of the nervous system. If they are reactivated, develops shingles. Even after a vaccination against chickenpox may occur shingles.

Chickenpox and shingles are highly contagious for people who have never had contact with the virus. Shingles can affect all age groups, but mostly in elderly or immunocompromised persons (including cancer or HIV-infected patients) diagnosed. The peak incidence of shingles is between the 50th and 70 Year of life.

Symptoms of shingles

There are several symptoms that a reactivation of the chickenpox virus, and thus suggestive of shingles (herpes zoster):

    * At the beginning causes the shingles next to tiredness and fatigue, a burning feeling in those parts of the skin, the nerves meet, in which the virus travels along. These areas of skin (dermatome) run in the trunk like a belt around the body, from the spine towards the sternum. The severe pain and the subsequent rash are almost always on one side - according to the course of the affected nerves.
    * Two to three days after the beginning of the pain is in addition to the typical rash: small blisters on a swollen and erythematous base. The rash reminds of chicken pox, but is limited to a particular area.
    * After two to seven days, the rash is configured maximum. The bubbles burst on, it causes small sores, which gradually be covered with scabs. After two to three weeks, the scab falls off often.
    * In addition to the rash may occur fever.
    * In some cases, swelling of the nearby lymph nodes.
    * Some stakeholders may occur weeks or months later pain in the previously affected areas of the body. It is nerve pain (postherpetic neuralgia). Certain factors increase the likelihood of such nerve pain such a good time not initiated or inadequate treatment of shingles with drugs. Age also plays a role. Suffer so up to 70 percent of elderly patients to these pains, which can last months to years.