Zoster is infection that results when varicella-zoster virus reactivates from its latent state in a posterior dorsal root ganglion. Symptoms usually begin with pain along the affected dermatome. The first symptoms are usually pain and burning. The pain is usually on one side of the body and occurs in small patches. A red rash typically follows. Rash characteristics include:
• red patches
• fluid-filled blisters that break easily
• a rash that wraps around from the spine to the torso
• a rash on the face and ears
HOW IS ZOSTER DIAGNOSED?
Zoster is suspected in patients with the characteristic rash and sometimes in patients with typical pain in a dermatomal distribution. Diagnosis is usually based on the virtually pathognomonic rash. If the diagnosis is equivocal, detecting multinucleate giant cells with a Tzanck test can confirm infection, but the Tzanck test is positive with herpes zoster or herpes simplex. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) may cause nearly identical lesions, but unlike herpes zoster, HSV tends to recur and is not dermatomal. Viruses can be differentiated by culture or PCR. Antigen detection from a biopsy sample can be useful.
HOW IS ZOSTER TREATED?
There’s no cure for shingles, but medication may be prescribed to ease symptoms and shorten the length of the infection. Home treatment can also help ease the symptoms. Home treatments may include:
• applying cold, wet compresses to the rash to reduce pain and itching
• applying calamine lotion to reduce itching
• taking colloidal oatmeal baths to ease pain and itching
DID YOU KNOW?
There is a vaccination available for Zoster however there is no 100% assurance that it can prevent you from getting the disease all together.