Shingles occur due to infection of a nerve and the skin portion around it. It may last for two to four weeks. The initial symptom of shingles is a tingling sensation associated with pain in the affected area. The rash appears subsequently. Shingles can affect any part of your body. However, the most common areas of shingles are the chest and abdomen. Sometimes you may feel pain in your arms and legs too. Shingles may affect the upper half of the face also. You should check for shingles with your doctor if the affected area has localized pain. Sometimes the pain may be dull or you may have a burning sensation. The intensity of the pain ranges from mild to severe. Stabbing pain may occur intermittently. Tenderness can be observed in the affected area. This is a usual sign of shingles.
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About two weeks after the occurrence of shingles with pain, the rash may develop. Initially rash may occur on one side of the body and then develop over the skin of the affected nerve. In the beginning stages, the rash looks like red blotches on the skin. This may develop speedily into itchy blisters. This may resemble chickenpox in appearance. Up to a week’s time, new blisters may also appear. These blisters turn yellow after three days. They dry out and become flat. In the final stage, they turn into scabs. Therefore, they may leave mild scars on the body. The other symptoms associated with shingles include high fever, exhaustion, headache, confused state of mind, and memory problems. Your eyes may develop some symptoms.
Shingles cause severe nerve pain in some people. This is known as neuralgia. If damage is caused to the nerves in this diseased condition it is called postherpetic neuralgia. This can persist for months together. In some cases, after the disappearance of the initial symptoms, it lasts for years too. Shingles are caused by a virus called herpes varicella-zoster. The same virus causes chickenpox too. This virus remains active in the nervous system even after the curing of the illness. If the immune system is not strong enough, it may reoccur.
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Not shingles, but their symptoms can be treated. Primarily, the rash should be kept clean and dry, so that bacterial infection does not take place in the affected area. Loose-fitting garments may provide much comfort in this condition. Painkillers are used to relieve the pain caused by shingles. Paracetamol or ibuprofen treats the shingles pain. For severe pains, your doctor may prescribe stronger painkillers. However, people having stomach or kidney problems should seek the advice of a doctor before taking ibuprofen. Doctors may prescribe a tricyclic antidepressant for prolonged or very severe shingles pain. Some physicians prescribe anticonvulsants to manage shingles’ pain.
Along with painkillers, your doctor may also prescribe an antiviral medicine to retard the speed of multiplication of the shingles virus. The antiviral medicines are effective if taken in the early stages of shingles, namely, within 72 hours of rash occurring on your body. Usually, people over 50 years, people with a weakened immune system,s and those who have symptoms affecting the eyes are prescribed antiviral medicines for shingles. However, pregnant women should consult their physician before starting this medication.