The shingles can occur at any age, afflicts but mostly people beyond the middle of life. The virus (varicella zoster) that triggers the shingles causes the chicken pox during childhood and then hidden remains in the nerve pathways. Under certain conditions it can be reactivated again - there is a shingles. The shingles - the specialist talks about herpes zoster - is an acute, restricted to certain regions of the infection that goes hand in hand with highly infectious blisters and pain.
Primary infection with the varicella-zoster virus is usually in childhood and manifests itself as a strong itchy chicken pox. Because the viruses are very infectious, the infection rate is very high: 94 percent of the population have been through this infection after the eleventh year of life.
The chicken pox after overcoming illness but not completely disappear from the body. Some remain so to speak "asleep" and held by the immune system in check – for life in the ganglion cells of the neural pathways. Under certain conditions, the virus can be reactivated and cause the unpleasant shingles. Depending on which nerves are affected, the Zoster infection moves one side of the spinal cord to the body, hence the name shingles.
Shingles: Symptoms and causes
The causes of a reactivation of the virus are usually unknown, but it seems that the immune status is reduced with age or such as severe stress - the virus can then walk back along the nerves in the skin and cause shingles. Where the infection is noticeable first as a burning, itchy, or stinging pain.
The typical rash appears as one of the symptoms until later - about 1-3 days after the virus reaches the skin. This rash is composed of red spots on the skin and small vesicles containing a virus-loaded, infectious liquid. The acute phase of the disease when shingles can have following symptoms: fatigue, headache, and fever. After another 3 to 5 days the sores break open and form scabs that fall off after 2 to 3 weeks gradually. A shingles heals off again without consequences in most cases.
Shingles: early start treatment
The early treatment of shingles is important to the virus as early as possible to curb and prevent further damage to the nerves - the so called post herpetic neuralgia. Is over 50 and infestation in the head or neck area missed early treatment can cause for months persistent chronic pain. Therefore if you suspect a shingles promptly for treatment seek medical attention.
The immediately derived acute treatment consists of two pillars. From the medication with anti-virals, on the other, the consistent treatment of pain caused by the shingles. A rapid inhibition of virus is required to avoid complications of shingles. Fast pain relief can help prevent a post-zosterischen neuralgia as a result of shingles in the first few days.
Shingles: Postzosterische neuralgia (PZN)
Especially older people can feel pain in places affected by shingles still months or even years that are difficult to treat and can chronifizieren. One speaks then no longer shingles, but a post-zosterischen neuralgia (PZN). Are the pain become chronic once, so they can be often still heavily influence.
The risk for this complication as a result of shingles increases with age. After a rule of thumb, the age is equivalent to approximately the percentage risk. A post-zosterische neuralgia (PZN) may persist in the worst case even for life and is unbearable for the affected part.