Common Specialities
{{speciality.keyWord}}
Common Issues
{{issue.keyWord}}
Common Treatments
{{treatment.keyWord}}

Overview

Last Updated: Nov 09, 2019
Change Language

Shingles - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

What is Shingles? What are the very first signs of shingles? What causes shingles to activate? How to diagnose shingles without rash? What are the risks of getting shingles? What is the best treatment for shingles? What food should you eat when you have shingles? What is the best home remedy for shingles?

What is Shingles?

The same virus that cause chickenpox also cause shingles. This is so, because after recovery from chickenpox the virus remains dormant in the patient’s CNS (Central Nervous System).Shingles is caused by Varicella zoster virus, which belongs to group of viruses known as herpes viruses, which is the exact reason as to why shingles is also known as herpes zoster.All herpes viruses can remain hidden in the nervous system of our body and can hide there for an indefinite span of time.

When this virus finds the right conditions, the herpes zoster virus can reactivate themselves. It’s more like waking up from a hibernation mode. After awaking the virus travels down the nerve fibers, which causes new infections.The infection appears as blisters in the skin or skin rashes accompanied by shingles which appear in more than one distinct bands, known as dermatomes. It can appear even on the face in a band or in some situations break out on a quarter of the face.

What are the very first signs of shingles?

Shingles is a painful infection of the skin and underlying nerves normally caused by a virus, varicella-zoster, and also known as Herpes Zoster. The sensations of pain along with numbness, itching, tingling, and burning are considered as the first signs of shingles. Once a person gets infected with this virus, skin rashes can be observed over the skin of faces, eyes, mouths, and ears within one to five days of time period of pain.

Skin rashes may get converted into fluid-filled blisters and look like chickenpox. People may experience symptoms like fever, chills, feeling of tiredness, pain in muscles, headaches which are the same as a flu infection. If this disease occurs near the eyes then it can show symptoms like pain, redness, swelling, and sensitivity to light because of damage to the optic nerve.

What causes shingles to activate?

All these dermatomes correspond to one singular nerve, which is why this infection causes isolated skin lesions, rather than rashes appearing all over the body.

Per say, you can never have shingles if you have never been exposed to chicken pox or rather to say more clinically the varicella virus that causes this disease. As said even before, this virus can remain dormant for years and while remaining inactive it will never cause any problem to the host. However, in certain persons who have low immunity, it may reactivate several times in a short span of time.

This disease is most common in people who are aged over 50. More than half of the cases registered for this illness have been found aged near or more than 60. Nevertheless, this disease can happen to all people of all ages but only to them, who had been exposed to chicken pox.

How to diagnose shingles without rash?

Shingles is viral infections that may be occurring after being dominant at central nervous system and it is difficult to diagnose it without rash but still, some symptoms can represent its occurrence. When a person is suffering from shingles, he or she may experience symptoms to one side of the body like face, neck, and eyes as well as in the internal organs.

These symptoms can be a feeling of tingling or numbness, itchiness, sensitivity to touch, headache, burning sensations, pain that comes from the spine like dermatomal pain and often laboratory investigations. The laboratory investigation may include immune-fluorescent microscopy of vesicle cells, serological testing, and real-time polymerase chain reaction.

What are the risks of getting shingles?

It is still unknown by stalwarts of the medical science, as to why varicella zoster virus starts to multiply. Nevertheless, in spite of this virus’s unpredictable nature, the possible causes of varicella zoster reappearance on the host can be for ageing, diseases like HIV and AIDS, cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy, psychological and emotional stress, trauma and medications such as immunosuppressant drugs.

It has also been seen that children whose mothers had chicken pox in their late pregnancy or in her infancy does at times transmit this virus to the offspring congenitally. Most people do not experience any life-threatening complications with shingles.

What is the best treatment for shingles?

The condition of shingles can be suppressed by the use of medications that can control infection, inflammation, pain and improve the healing process. Medical professionals are generally prescribing antiviral drugs like Acyclovir, Famciclovir, and Valacyclovir within the third day of the first occurrence of symptoms.

Other medications such as painkillers (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, Naproxen), antihistaminic, numbing medicine (lidocaine) and tricyclic antidepressant agents (amitriptyline, desipramine, nortriptyline) are also given to patients suffering from shingles.

To avoid itchy skin reaction, doctors are prescribing calamine lotion to soothe these skin conditions. For severe pain during this condition, capsaicin topical patch, codeine like narcotics, gabapentin like anticonvulsants, injections of corticosteroids and local anesthetics are also advised to people.

What food should you eat when you have shingles?

The changes in diet are recommended in shingles to strengthened immunity and prevent the further spread of infection in other parts of the body. Foods containing vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoids, and amino acid- lysine are included in shingles condition.

Foods like orange and yellow fruits, leafy green vegetables, red meat, eggs, chicken, whole grains, legumes, beans, tomatoes, spinach, orange color foods (carrot, pumpkin, and apricot), red color foods (watermelon, red pepper, grapefruit and cherry), and green color foods (kale, parsley, melon, lettuce and endive) are supplying essential nutrients to immune system of body and recommended during infections.

There is a restriction on foods with saturated fat, excess sugar, and salt, refined carbohydrates, etc. during infection of shingles as they can disturb the healing process of the body.

What is the best home remedy for shingles?

Shingles is occurring due to same virus that is causing chickenpox and it produces blisters filled with fluid. These blisters are causing itchiness over the skin and pain that can be relieved by taking a cool bath as well as it can reduce the risk of spreading the infection. The application of cool and moist water through soaking clothing in cold water can ease in pain and itchiness.

Some soothing lotions and cream along with baking soda and cornstarch paste can be applied to shingles rashes to decrease itchiness and scarring and prolongation of blisters. To overcome skin irritation and improve skin healing processes, the application of essential oils such as Chamomile oil, Eucalyptus oil, and Tea Tree oil is also suggested in shingles.

Popular Questions & Answers

Treatment for seborrheic dermatitis with significant hair loss and extreme itchy scalp. Using ketoconazole shampoo with betamethasone and no improvement.

DNB (Dermatology), MBBS, Diploma in Trichology - Cosmetology
Dermatologist, Hyderabad
Hi lybrate-user! seborrheic dermatitis also called dandruff. Moreover, dandruff is something which is not just external but is linked to your diet, hormones etc. Usually, from the age of puberty to adulthood, oil glands will be very active and can...

I have warts in my neck and below the shoulder i'm using podowart paint since ten days but there is no sign of getting relief. Now i'm getting severe pain, burning sensation and redness. Please give me a solution.

MD - Dermatology, MBBS
Dermatologist,
Podowart is not for daily use and it is for genital wart. It should be applied under dermatologist supervision. Usually it has weekly application. Now you developed irritant dermatitis due to excessive use. So stop podowart, consult your dermatolo...
1 person found this helpful

I have red rashes and bumps on face and itching on whole body like scabies I don't know what is this I am using permethrin but my face not cure.

General Physician, Ooty
Dear user, scabies infection will cause more itching at night. If permethrin does not work, you should meet a dermatologist so they will be able to properly identify the lesion and treat accordingly. In the meanwhile, avoid close contact with fami...
1 person found this helpful

Popular Health Tips

Varicose Veins - What You Must Be Aware About?

MBBS, MS General Surgery, FRCS
General Surgeon, Ludhiana
Varicose Veins - What You Must Be Aware About?
Varicose Veins is a condition in which an individual s veins become swollen and warped or twisted, which is visible on the skin. This condition most often is prevalent in the legs but can occur in any part of the body. Varicose Veins is a common m...
3760 people found this helpful

Dry Skin - 5 Things That Can Cause It!

MBBS, MD - Dermatology , Venereology & Leprosy
Dermatologist, Hyderabad
Dry Skin - 5 Things That Can Cause It!
It s needless to say, that your skin is the first line of defense against all natural elements like the wind, sun and the cold. But when you have dry skin, it s a real uncomfortable condition and it can happen for a plethora of reasons. Dry skin, ...
1422 people found this helpful

Post-Herpetic Neuralgia Chronic Pain Management!

MD,DNB, MBBS Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, Fellowship In Pain Management
Pain Management Specialist, Mumbai
Post-Herpetic Neuralgia Chronic Pain Management!
The condition of persistent pain in the body, where an outbreak of the Varicella Zoster virus has caused Shingles, is termed as post-herpetic neuralgia. It is a debilitating complication of the herpes zoster virus. The blisters that occur in shing...
4239 people found this helpful

HIV - How It Can Impact The Overall Health?

MBBS, DDV, FCPS, APEX, Diplomat American Board of Sexology
HIV Specialist, Mumbai
HIV - How It Can Impact The Overall Health?
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a lentivirus (a genus of Retrovirus) that causes HIV infection and over a period leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), if left neglected and untreated. HIV infected person over the months to ...
3558 people found this helpful

A Brief Insight Into Scabies, Its Causes, And Treatment!

MBBS, MD
Dermatologist, Noida
A Brief Insight Into Scabies, Its Causes, And Treatment!
A highly contagious skin condition that is caused by the infestations of tiny burrowing mites but is treatable with medication is Scabies. When the skin comes in direct contact with infested bedding or clothing, microscopic human mites, known as S...
3540 people found this helpful
Content Details
Written By
MBBS,MS - General Surgery,MCh - Neuro Surgery
Neurology
Play video
Hair Fall - Know The Causes
Hi, I am Dr. Priyanka Ghatge, Cosmetic Physician. Today I will talk about hair fall. I will talk about the causes and its management. It is the most worrying thing in both the sexes male and as well as female and all the age group. One of the most...
Play video
Vaccinations - How Do They Help Prevent Diseases?
Hi, I am Dr. Suresh Keshan, Pediatrician. Today I will be talking on vaccinations as a modality of prevention for childhood diseases. I will address the common concerns the parents have regarding the vaccinations. One of the things parents ask, ar...
Play video
Childcare - Know Facts About It!
Hi, I am Dr. Suresh Keshan, Pediatrician. Today I will be speaking on general childcare and the things which parents mostly have questions about while they visit our clinic. It will not be a technical medical session but informative session which ...
Play video
Know More About Common Skin Problems
Hi, I am Dr. Kavita Mehndiratta, dermatologist in Faridabad. Today we will talk about one of the common skin problems is heat rash. Normally the children of various ages develop such kind of conditions. This is because of excessive sweating and th...
Play video
Vaccinations for Infants and Children
I am Dr Abhishek Goyal, I am M.D. paediatrics, a child specialist. I am working with my own clinic and a nursing home with the name of Vaishnavi mother and child clinics. Today I want to tell you regarding the vaccinations. Usually, parents ask me...
Having issues? Consult a doctor for medical advice