Herpes zoster (shingles) is a contagious disease caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV). Herpes zoster manifests with typical symptoms.
Though the patient recovers from the chickenpox after 10-15 days, the virus is not completely eliminated from the body. The herpes zoster virus enters the nervous system and lodges itself in the cerebral ganglia or dorsal root ganglia. It attains dormancy, without causing any symptoms, lasting for a few months to several years or even a lifetime.
The varicella zoster virus, due to unknown reasons, reemerges as shingles in some individuals. About 20% of those who had chickenpox in their childhood develop zoster. Zoster blisters erupt unilaterally along the path of innervation by the affected ganglia, affecting one side of the body, most often affecting the torso, neck, arms, and legs.
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Herpes zoster symptomsThe reactivated virus particles move along the nerve and reach the skin dermatome causing a stripe of blisters and pain. The usual sequence of events and symptom progression in herpes zoster are as follows.
- Pain, inflammation near the region of affected nerve roots. Some individuals may develop fever.
- Within a few hours the nerve supplying to the skin from the nerve root gets inflamed with symptoms of pain and burning sensation along its length.
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- After two or three hours the patch of skin where the bumps and blisters will emerge becomes itchy with slight burning sensation. This area of skin is most likely to be the most affected area during the earlier varicella episode.
- If the itchy skin is left alone without scratching bumps may appear within two or three hours. If the itchy skin is scratched, bumps will appear immediately.
- Symptoms like severe burning pain (due to nerve damage) and itching are followed by the bumps turning into blisters.
- Getting filled up with lymph, the blisters grow, become hard and then burst, spilling the contents.
- The VZV virus can travel along the nerves and cause similar symptoms in the adjacent area of skin.
- The burst blisters form crust and the crust may fall off in a week.
- After the herpes zoster episode the symptoms like neuralgic pain along the nerve and the blister area may continue for sometime.
1.Zostavax (Herpes Zoster Vaccine) Questions and Answers (FDA)
1.Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:A_Course_of_Shingles_diagram.png
Author: FDA | License: public domain.
2.Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Herpes_zoster_neck.png
Author: John Pozniak | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
Current topic in natural skin care: Herpes zoster symptoms.