What is Shingles?
Herpes zoster, known as Shingles, is the reactivation of varicella zoster virus, or VZV. The virus, one of the Herpesviridae group, leads to a group of painful blisters over the area of a dermatome. After an attack of chicken pox, the varicella-zoster virus retreats to nerve cells within the ganglion or the spinal cord, where it lies dormant for several months up to several decades.Aging, stress, or disease cause the virus to reactivate and reproduce, at which point it is called “herpes zoster”. The herpes zoster travels along the path of a nerve to the skin’s surface, where it causes Shingles.
What are the Symptoms of Shingles?
- Slight fever, chills, upset stomach.
- Pain and tenderness usually on one side of your face or body.
- Tingling, itching, or prickling skin followed by an inflamed red rash.
- Deep burning, aching, or stabbing pain, which may be continuous or intermittent.
Shingles can last for several weeks. However, it usually only occurs once. The pain can continue for months or even years in rare cases.
What are the Causes of Shingles?
The same virus that causes chickenpox, causes Shingles. People who have had chickenpox are immune to this virus again unless their immune system is adversely affected by a serious illness or stress or trauma. It can occur in some people and not in others.
Traditional Medical Treatments for Shingles
Treatment can only relieve the symptoms, it cannot halt the disease. Your doctor will prescribe the appropriate medications for you.
Complementary/Alternative Treatments for Shingles
Herbal Therapies: Dabbing or sponging lesions with a solution of lemon balm or calendula may reduce inflammation. You can also try three daily applications of a commercially prepared gel made from an extract of liquorice, which appears to interfere with virus growth. Dabbing or sponging lesions with a solution of lemon balm or calendula may reduce inflammation. You can also try three daily applications of a commercially prepared gel made from an extract of liquorice, which appears to interfere with virus growth. Another very popular ointment is one based on St. John’s wort. Taking goldenseal, vervain and Echinacea also helps strengthen the immune system.