Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is a painful infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. This is the virus that causes chickenpox. It is characterized by a blistering rash that is usually confined to one side of the body. The shingles virus affects one or more nerves including the skin over them. While there is no cure for shingles, a vaccine can prevent or reduce the severity and duration of an outbreak.
The varicella-zoster virus that causes chickenpox is not completely eliminated from the body after the symptoms of the disease disappear. The virus usually resides in the part of the nerve close to the spinal cord. The virus may become active again after lying dormant for decades. When this happens, it travels along the nerve to the skin.
Shingles is likely to develop when the immune system is weakened. Older people are more likely to develop shingles as their immune system Zostavax Side Effects less effective. The shingles virus may also become reactivated by certain disorders such as cancer, diabetes, HIV infection, the use of immunosuppressants, radiation therapy, or inadequate nutrition. However, it is often difficult to determine the actual cause of the virus’ reactivation.
Shingles rash can be controlled by antiviral medications such as acyclovir, famciclovir and valacyclovir as long as treatment is started within 3 days of developing the rash. The extent and duration of the rash will be minimized and the pain associated with it will be reduced. Blisters will crust over more quickly and heal faster.
Starting treatment immediately can reduce the risk of developing postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), a severe chronic pain along affected nerves. Prompt treatment can also shorten the duration of the symptoms if you do get PHN.
Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen can be used to manage the pain. For more severe pain, your doctor may prescribe pregabalin or oxycodone, a narcotic pain medication. Capsaicin cream can also help relieve the pain of shingles. You can also relieve the itching and pain by applying calamine lotion, using a cold compress, or soaking in a tub with oatmeal or cornstarch on the rash.
A vaccine for the shingles virus became available in 2006. Clinical trials showed that the vaccine. Zostavax, reduced the incidence of shingles in adults aged 60 and over by more than 50%. Those who still got shingles after being vaccinated experienced less pain and discomfort.
The vaccine is recommended for older people who are at least 60 years old. Those who have a life-threatening allergy to gelatin or have a weakened immune system should not get the shingles virus vaccine. Likewise, pregnant women or women requirements for a Zostavax lawsuit who might be pregnant should not get the shingles vaccine.