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admin | Category: Herpes Treatment Options | 08.05.2015
Shingles (herpes zoster) is a viral infection that may cause pain, burning, or a tingling sensation on either the left or right side of the body. The varicella zoster virus is a type of herpes simplex virus (HSV) but is not the same as the herpes simplex virus that causes genital herpes. Herpes zoster is not a virus but a syndrome that arises with reactivation of the varicella zoster virus (VZV) years or even decades after chickenpox. Herpes zoster is the same as shingles, an alternative and commonly used name for this condition. Herpes zoster is more likely to occur in a person with a depressed immune system and the elderly. Herpes zoster, commonly known as just zoster or shingles, is a condition caused by the reactivation of the varicella zoster virus (VZV). Shingles is the syndrome where a painful skin rash marked by the presence of tiny blisters usually forms on a dermarcated area on the skin surface of the head or trunk. Images from CDC (1)The main symptoms of herpes zoster (shingles) is an itchy skin rash and pain which has been discussed in detail below. Herpes zoster mainly affects sensory nerves but motor nerves that control muscles may also be affected. Pain that lasts for longer than a month, even after the rash clears, is most likely a complication of shingles known as post-herpetic neuralgia. Treatment should be commenced immediately once a diagnosis of shingles is made, preferably within the first few days of the onset of the rash.
Herpes is a very common infection caused by a virus, called the herpes simplex virus, or HSV.


The course and symptoms of herpes infections vary widely from being completely asymptomatic throughout a person's life in 80% of patients, to having frequent recurrences. HSV-1 is typically spread via infected saliva and initially causes acute herpetic gingivostomatitis in children and acute herpetic pharyngotonsillitis in adults. Acute herpetic pharyngotonsillitis is the most common first presentation of the disease in adults, and more commonly affects the pharynx and tonsils than the mouth and lips. Although genital herpes is usually caused by HSV-2, it can also be caused by HSV-1 (for instance by contact of a mouth lesion on genital skin of a non-infected person). The good news is that a person who already has antibodies to HSV-1 because of a prior infection with oral herpes causes a milder effect of genital HSV-2 and protects against acquiring HSV-1 in the genital area. It's a good idea to go in to see your doctor if you are worried that you may have contracted herpes. Several days or weeks later, a band, strip, or small area of rash usually appears in the same area and progresses into blisters, which scab over before clearing up over the next few weeks.
It mainly affects the sensory nerves but can sometimes involve the motor nerves – those nerves that control muscles in the body.
Once a person acquires the herpes virus, it invades and replicates in the nervous system, remaining deep within a nerve for life. Along with ruptured vesicles in the tonsils and pharynx, an adult with newly acquired herpes type 1 can have fever, headache, fatigue, and sore throat. There are many over-the-counter medications and home remedies that claim to help or cure herpes, but most of these are false claims and do very little, if anything at all, to help. Each outbreak starts with a tingling, burning or painful sensation at the site, followed by a red rash that evolves into tiny blisters that eventually open.


As in oral herpes, each outbreak starts with a feeling of pain or burning at the site, followed by a localized patch of vesicles that can be very painful. The virus targets certain nerves with symptoms such as the rash and pain being isolated to those areas of the skin supplied by a single spinal nerve. As in oral herpes, genital herpes also causes vesicles to form, which can appear on vagina, labia, buttocks, or even the cervix in women, and on the penis, scrotum, buttocks, thighs, and even urethra in men. Barrier protection such as with a condom can help prevent spread of genital herpes, but some HSV ulcers can occur outside o the area protected by the condom and still be transmitted. However, the virus remains dormant for long periods of time in the body and may sometimes reactivate to cause inflammation of the nerve roots. For most healthy people, herpes infections are a painful nuisance of recurrent blisters in a localized area. However, in people with poor immune systems, such as organ transplant recipients or people with HIV, the virus can spread throughout the body and cause severe disease, even of the brain. Vaccination against Herpes zoster is recommended for all adults age 60 and older to prevent or decrease the severity of future episodes of this painful condition.



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