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Also known as Shingles or Zoster, Herpes Zoster is caused by the same virus as chicken pox. After the chicken pox clear, the virus remains dormant (inactive) within certain nerve cells of the body. When the virus reactivates, zoster develops.
About 20 percent of people who have had chicken pox will get zoster. Most develop zoster only once.
It is not clear what reactivates or “awakens” the virus. A temporary weakness in immunity(the body’s ability to fight infection) may cause the virus to multiply and move along nerve fibers toward the skin. These include cancers, AIDS, treatment for cancer such as chemotherapy or radiation, drugs taken to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ, and cortisone when taken for a long time. Illness, trauma, and stress also may trigger zoster.
A person with zoster can transmit the virus by means of direct skin contact if blisters break. If someone contracts the virus, the person develops chicken pox — not zoster.
Close up of zoster blisters
Zoster causes more pain and less itching than chicken pox. A person may feel burning, itching, tingling, or extreme sensitivity on the skin (usually limited to an area on one side of the body). These symptoms are typically present for one to three days, sometimes more, before a red rash appears in the same area. A zoster rash usually occurs on only one side of the body.
The rash soon turns into groups of blisters, which generally last for two to three weeks. At first the blisters are clear, but then look yellow or bloody before they crust over (scab) and disappear. It is unusual to have pain without blisters, or blisters without pain.
While Zoster is most common on the trunk and buttocks, it can appear anywhere the nerves have been affected, including the face, arms, or legs. Blisters on the tip of the nose signal possible eye involvement.
Generally the history and appearance is classical. To confirm the diagnosis, a dermatologist may scrape skin cells from a blister onto a glass slide for examination under a microscope.
Zoster usually clears on its own in a few weeks and seldom recurs. While zoster is clearing, pain relievers can help ease the discomfort, and cool compresses may provide soothing relief.
When diagnosed early (within 72 hours), oral anti-viral medication can be prescribed which can prevent post-herpetic neuralgia (pain, numbness, itching, and tingling that last long after the rash clears). The earlier treatment is started, the better.
A corticosteroid also can help alleviate inflammation when a severe infection develops such as in an eye. Nerve blocks can help control pain. If a patient develops post-herpetic neuralgia (pain, numbness, itching, and tingling that lasts long after the rash clears), it may be treated with pain relievers. Oral medications, anti-depressants, anti-seizure and antineuralgia medicines also may be of some benefit.
Probably the most common problem of Herpes Zoster is post-herpetic neuralgia, characterized by pain, numbness, itching, and tingling can last for months or even years. It is more common in older people.
A bacterial infection can develop in the blisters, which can delay healing.Zoster in the eye that is not promptly treated can lead to complications such as glaucoma, scarring, and blindness.
A vaccine has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for persons aged 60 years and older who have never had Zoster. This vaccine has not been studied in persons with a history of Shingles, and it should not be given to people who have decreased immunity.
Another vaccine has been approved to prevent chicken pox. Typically given to children, the vaccine also may be given to some adults who have not had chicken pox.
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The Esthetic Clinic is a world class center dedicated to skin care and plastic surgery of the entire body – and specializes in housing an experienced Dermatologist, Dr. Rinky Kapoor, who can provide world class Skin Treatments, for skin diseases and make your skin look beautiful. So if you want to go ahead and get your hair, skin, and nails treated, The Esthetic Clinic is the right place for you.
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