Before you can learn to treat shingles properly. It is definitely helpful to know what exactly it is. Because by getting to know shingles, you can not only treat it better but this knowledge can be extremely helpful in effectively treating shingles to keep it at bay.
So What Is Shingles?
Shingles, otherwise known as herpes zoster (not related to the virus that causes genital herpes), is a painful skin rash. Although it can take 2 to 4 weeks for the symptoms to completely go away. In some cases, usually with older adults, the pain from the condition still persists even after the rash has healed.
Who can get Shingles?
Like most illnesses, a healthy immune system keeps the virus in check and prevents it from multiplying and causing shingles. Although anyone who has the virus in their body (usually because of getting chickenpox when they were young) may have shingles. It is most common in people over 50 and those with a weakened immune system.
You must have had chickenpox to get shingles. It is estimated that about 20% will have shingles at-least once in their lifetime. Even though it is possible for you to have shingles more than once. For those that are effected by shingles, the chances of getting it again are very minimal. Only reoccurring more than once in only 2% of the cases, for the vast majority of people, thankfully, shingles is usually a one time problem.
What Causes Shingles?
Shingles is caused by the same virus (varicella zoster) that causes chickenpox. Although still in your body, the virus goes into a dormant state once you have properly recovered from chickenpox. It can remain dormant for decades. But if it were to ever come out of dormancy, this virus, although unable to cause chickenpox again would cause shingles.
While for some people, the herpes zoster virus stays in a dormant state forever. In others, it has the ability to become active again. Stress, illness and aging can make your body’s immune system weak making you more susceptible to shingles. Although the reason is not yet known, the shingles virus can also become active as result of taking some medicines.
Once active, the virus travels up the nerve fibers into the skin, where it creates a rash and the typical shingles blisters.