Shingles is a condition that occurs when the body becomes infected by a virus known as varicella-zoster virus. Shingles is characterized by an extremely painful rash. The rash can appear on various parts of the body which include the face, arms, torso, neck, and back.
Risk Factors and Causes For Shingles
Elder individuals are the most likely to come down with a case of shingles. Furthermore, victims who develop chickenpox are at high risk for shingles since they are developed by the same virus. Once a person has contacted the virus from chickenpox, it can remain in their system for years to later reemerge as shingles.
People with weakened immune systems also have a great chance of developing shingles.
In addition, stress and chronic illnesses such as cancer and HIV are considered risk factors for shingles as they can weaken your immunity.
According to studies, drugs like prednisone can take a toll on your immune system. Prednisone is an immunosuppressant drug used for treating inflammatory disorders, autoimmune diseases, and some cancers.
A higher risk for shingles was linked to participants who took a 7.5 mg dosage of the drug everyday in cases of rheumatoid arthritis.
Symptoms For Shingles
In shingles, red spots will form on the skin. These red spots feature blisters which fill up with pus and eventually end up scabbing over.
Another thing the victim can experience is a variety of sensations including burning, tingling, itchiness, and numbness.
Additional symptoms are fever, headaches, fatigue, and abdominal pain.
Treatment of Shingles
Shingles may be treated using several medications. Opioids such as morphine and ibuprofen can come in handy for treating pain.
Antiviral drugs may help speed up recovery from the infection. Antiviral drugs used for shingles include aciclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), and valaciclovir (Valtrex).
Anticonvulsant like gabapentin (Neurotin) are used for treating postherpetic neuralgia. Postherpetic neuralgia is pain that occurs due to nerve damage caused by shingles. It can persist long after the rash has cleared up.
Capsaicin cream is another medication for easing nerve pain.
Prevention of Shingles
How patients could prevent the development of shingles is by getting a vaccine shot. Zostavax is supposed to help stop the condition from happening in people who are 50 years of age or older. Zostavax gained approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006.
Another vaccine for shingles is Shingrix. This vaccine has been shown as 90% effective at boosting immunity against the virus infection. Like Zostavax, Shingrix was invented for patients 50 years or older. Shingrix was approved by the FDA in 2017.
Zostavax is known to have a number of severe side effects. Some people have even still got shingles after having this vaccine. Reported side effects of the vaccine include:
- Joint and muscle pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Vision loss
- Elevated heart rate
In some cases, the vaccine will cause inflammatory effects (redness, swelling, warmth, etc.) where the area has been injected. There have been so many negative impacts on peoples health that there are currently Zostavax lawsuits being filed for compensation.
If you experience any allergic reactions or side effects to the vaccine, get help immediately. Another point to remember is that it is advised not to get Zostavax if you are pregnant or preparing to become pregnant.