Sunday, November 30

What is herpes zoster - Definition of herpes zoster

   ›      ›   What is herpes zoster - Herpes zoster definition.

What is herpes zoster?

Herpes zoster, also known as shingles or zona, is a viral disease caused by the chickenpox virus, varicella zoster virus (VZV).
Herpes zoster virus as a primary infection causes chickenpox in children and young adults. After the episode of primary infection by VZV, causing body rash and blisters, the symptoms resolve in 6-10 days and the patient develops partial immunity. However the herpes virus is not eliminated from the body after the primary infection. The herpes virus remains latent in the nerve ganglia and nerve bodies.

Approximately, 20% of those who had chickenpox may develop shingles later on. The latency period of the herpes virus may last from years to decades. What activates this latent human herpesvirus 3 is not known. However certain triggering factors have been identified. Individuals of all age groups and genders may develop the herpes disease. However, the incidences of its recurrence are greater in older population. Infants, elderly people, transplant patients and those affected by immunosuppression due to diseases or medications are at increased risk.

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Shingles is caused by VZV. VZV belongs to the large family of DNA herpes viruses known as Herpesviridae. Herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2, VZV, Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, herpesvirus 6, herpesvirus 7, and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus belong to the family Herpesviridae. All these viral groups are DNA viruses and once infected they remain in the body and can reemerge from latency to cause disease symptoms.

What are the ?

The early symptoms of VZV herpes are fever, headache, body pain and malaise. They are followed by tingling, itching, prickling or burning sensations.
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The sensations may be only at the site of emergence of blister or on the entire dermatome. Simultaneously a small red band of rash appears, which soon develops small blisters. The blisters get filled with serum. Then the herpes blisters may get filled with blood and the resolution phase starts. The skin develops crust which subsequently falls off.

What is the treatment for herpes zoster?

Shingles resolves by itself after 7-10 days. The antiviral drugs such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir can reduce the intensity of the herpes episode and help in rapid healing if taken within three days of the start of symptoms. Herpes vaccine helps in reducing the intensity and recurrence of the episodes.

Definition

  • Definition by medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com: "an acute, unilateral, self-limited inflammatory disease of cerebral ganglia and the ganglia of posterior nerve roots and peripheral nerves in a segmented distribution, believed to represent activation of latent human herpesvirus 3 in those who have been rendered partially immune after a previous attack of chickenpox."
  • Definition by webmd.com: "Shingles is a painful skin rash. It is caused by the varicella zoster virus. Shingles usually appears in a band, a strip, or a small area on one side of the face or body."
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    Reference:
    1.Zostavax (Herpes Zoster Vaccine) Questions and Answers (FDA)
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