Shingles (Herpes Zoster)


Herpes zoster also called shingles is a localized, blistering and painful rash caused by reactivation of varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Characterized by dermatomal distribution, usually unilateral, with a sharp cut-off at the anterior and posterior midlines.

Who gets shingles?

  • Anyone that previously had varicella (chickenpox).
  • Zoster can occur commonly in adults, especially older people.
  • People with cancer have an increased risk of developing zoster.

Signs and symptoms of shingles

  • The first sign is usually pain.
  • 1-3 days after the onset, a blistering rash appears as a crop of red papules. New lesions continue to erupt. 
  • Pain and general symptoms subside gradually as the eruption disappears.
  • Recovery is usually complete within 2–3 weeks.

Complication of shingles

  • Deep blisters that destroy the skin could lead to scar
  • Muscle weakness. Facial nerve palsy is the most common result
  • Post-herpetic pain/neuralgia

Treatment for shingles

  • Antiviral medication ( Acyclovir/ Valacyclovia)  can shorten the length and severity of the illness.
  • Protective ointment applied to the rash, such as petroleum jelly.
  • Oral antibiotics for secondary infection.

Shingles itself is not contagious. You can’t spread the condition to another person. 

The varicella-zoster virus is contagious, shingles can spread  to another person to develop chickenpox”

Shingles prevention

The most effective prevention against shingles is vaccination. Healthy adults 50 years and older should get two doses of Shingrix, separated by 2 to 6 months.

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