Shingles, or herpes zoster, is a viral disease which involves a painful skin rash with blisters in a typically smaller area of the body. Here, MusicSnake Magazine presents a list of facts about the virus that 25% of people who have had chickenpox contract later in life.
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Shingles Only Appears on One Side of the Body
The rash that results from the virus most often appears around the midsection or torso. Typically it does not spread past the center line of the body.
Rashes are Not the Only Symptom
Although most people think the rash is the main symptom of this disease, it’s only one of the many issues that come along with it. Severe pain is also common and has been described as a burning or stabbing sensation.
Herpes Zoster is a Nerve Infection as Well as a Skin Infection
Shingles are typically thought of as an itchy rash or cluster of blisters. While this is true, it’s little known that the virus also attacks the nerve underneath the skin, which is what causes the severe pain some people experience.
Some Sufferers Need Morphine
Typically, over-the-counter medication or calamine lotions are enough for people with the virus. In severe cases, some people may need something stronger, and morphine being prescribed is not unheard of.
Only People Who Had Chickenpox Can Have Shingles
Once the chickenpox virus enters your body, it’s there forever. For most of us, experiencing this uncomfortable illness in childhood will be our only attack of the virus. About a quarter of people will have it re-emerge later in life as shingles.
If someone has shingles, they cannot give them to someone else. However, a person with the virus can transmit it to another person who is not immune, which would cause chickenpox.
Herpes Zoster is Not the Same Disease as Chickenpox
These two are caused by the very same virus, but this does not mean they are the same thing. Chickenpox is much milder and typically only affects kids.
Transmission Can Only Happen From Blister Fluid
Touching someone is not enough to spread this illness. The only way you can get it is to come into contact with the actual fluid from their rash. For this reason, covering these areas up is advised.
The Name “Shingles”
Since the rashes usually appear around the midsection of the body, it was named after the Latin word Cingulum, which means “belt” or “girdle”. This later morphed into the word “shingles”.
Shingles is Not as Rare as People Think
About a million people in the United States are infected with this virus every year. It becomes more common and likely as you age.
Steroids Are Prescribed for Short-Term Pain Relief
The Virus Does Not Only Affect Old People
Although it’s most common in elderly folks, it can also occur in young adults, or even children in some cases. If you have an immune system weakened by certain infections such as HIV or cancer, you have an increased risk.
Some People Endure the Pain for Years
Shingles typically only last for a few weeks to a month. There are some unlucky sufferers out there, however, who will experience pain for multiple months or even years.
This is not very common, but it’s happened before. Some people with the virus have suffered brain inflammation, blindness, deafness, or in severe cases, even death.