Varicella-zoster virus is the causative agent for shingles. After recovering from chickenpox, the virus remains inactive within the human body. Reactivation of the virus later leads to the condition. The larger percentile of the population is infected only one episode in their entire lifetime. However, it is also possible to experience re-occurrence.
Suppose you have herpes zoster infection and fluid from your blisters come into contact with individuals who have never developed chickenpox or have never been immunized against chickenpox. In that case, the varicella-zoster virus will spread, and the exposed individuals will be at risk of developing chickenpox. They may then erupt at a later time upon reactivation of the dormant virus.
If the rash blisters are covered, the chances of spreading the virus are minimal. It is also important to note that the virus can only be transmitted after the appearance of the blisters. After blisters scab, they do become non-contagious. Individuals infected with chickenpox readily spread the virus, unlike those with the condition.
It is also rare to develop the disease when you contact the nasal secretions or saliva of those who have shingles. It implies that you cannot develop a viral infection if an infected person sneezes or coughs near you. You cannot reinfect an individual who had developed chickenpox before because they already have the virus in dormant form. If they develop infection later, it is because of the latent virus they have and not from you.
Who Get Virus?
Any individual who has developed chickenpox is capable of developing the infection because the inactive virus can reactivate. Any age group is prone to infection. However, studies have revealed that people in their 60s or 70s are more prone than other age groups.
Because they are rampant, research has also revealed that half of America’s population will have experienced signs by the time they are 80 years. Reactivation of the virus is common when an individual’s immune system is compromised. Hence, it is not uncommon to develop the disease when you are stressed or already weak.
They are associated with painful rashes. It will develop mainly on one side of your body and may affect your internal organs, mouth, abdomen, back, and face. Individuals are likely to experience a numbing, burning, or tingling sensation on their skin in the initial stages. After that, blisters filled with fluid develop in clusters. Blisters will persist for a week before drying up and crust forming.
If you have the condition, you will likely experience common symptoms associated with viral infections such as headache, fatigue, chills, and fever. The virus can only be transmitted through sneezing and coughing if it affects your oral cavity. Individuals often report discomfort and pain.
The outbreaks are temporary and often resolve within one month. However, it has a long-term impact on your well-being and health. Younger individuals rarely show signs after clearing up the blisters. On the other hand, the pain may persist for weeks or months in older patients.
Besides symptoms associated with viral infection and rash, the condition may cause serious complications that could be long-lasting. The complications include stroke, encephalitis, pneumonia, facial paralysis, muscle weakness, vision loss, and balancing and hearing problems. It is common when they appear in the ear. Postherpetic neuralgia is also observed in 10 to 18% of the affected individuals.
Diagnosis and Treatment
From the physical inspection and inquiry, the physician will be able to make a diagnosis. In some instances, your doctor may order a test to reach a definitive diagnosis. It is not possible to eliminate the virus from your body, nor can it completely cure it.
However, various shingles creams and antiviral agents will assist in alleviating the symptoms, reducing the risk of complications, and shortening the duration of the discomfort. Antiviral agents include famciclovir, valaciclovir, acyclovir, and most effective shingles cream are from natural sources. The shingles cream alleviates the unpleasant symptoms, shortens the duration of the condition, and prevents complications.
Varicella-zoster virus is easily transmitted with an active chickenpox infection. Note that the virus remains viable for transmission when you develop symptoms until the blisters and rash crust dry. Individuals who are affected but healthy can still socialize in public and work. However, they need to adhere to the following tips:
Stay Away from High-Risk Group
It is advisable to stay away from children who have not been immunized against chickenpox. It would be best if you also kept off premature babies and those with low birth weights. The virus has a severe impact on immune-compromised individuals. Hence, it is advisable to protect those receiving chemotherapies, immune suppressant medications, patients who have undergone organ transplantation, and HIV patients.
Other patients at high risk of developing the viral infection are asthmatic patients, diabetic patients, systemic lupus erythematosus, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Patients with concerns about getting the virus should speak to their physicians, who may advise on vaccination or various methods of reducing the risk.
Avoid Pregnant Women
The virus poses a greater health risk to both the unborn and the mother. Some of the dangers include congenital disabilities and pneumonia. If you notice that you had close contact with a pregnant woman, it is advisable to notify her to contact her gynecologist promptly. It would be best to take precautions with pregnant women who have never developed chickenpox infection or received a vaccine against the same.
Remember to cover the blisters and keep them clean. It will protect other people when they come into contact with the blisters. Patients with this viral infection are also advised to wash their hands regularly. Neither should they touch their blisters.