Zoster (Shingles)

Zoster (Shingles)

Zoster

Zoster (Shingles) is a painful, blistering rash found on the patient’s body.


Causes of Shingles


Shingles are caused by the zoster virus that also causes varicella. After varicella sores heal, the virus lies dormant in nerves and may later become shingles. In other words, once you have had varicella, you are at risk of developing zoster. 

As you age your immune system weakens, making it easier for zoster to break through your body’s defences. Therefore, the risk of zoster increases substantially as you age. Besides this, people with high blood pressure, diabetes, gout and rheumatoid arthritis have weakened immune systems and their risk for zoster is higher. 

The first varicella vaccine was launched 20 years ago. Therefore, most people aged 50 or above have had varicella in the past. In Hong Kong, over 95% of people have had varicella and they are at a higher risk and are more likely to develop shingles. The risk is about one-third. 


Symptoms of Shingles


At the onset of shingles the patient may develop symptoms of tiredness, headache, an upset stomach or a fever that is similar to that of flu. They typically start to feel pain 24 to 48 hours from the initial onset. A rash or blisters appear on the skin as the virus spreads down one or more nerves. The shingle rashes are commonly found at the back and waist.

Shingles causes severe pain. Patients sometimes feel pain even though they do not touch the rash. The condition of shingles can range from mild to severe and it mainly depends on patients’ immunity and distribution of nerves as well as the virus’ activity. About 1/4 patients will experience severe complications, for example, the rashes extended to the eyes and ears and may lead to chronic ocular disease and visual loss.

Patients suffering from shingles should cover their rashes and avoid contact with the blister fluid. The zoster virus is communicable so people who have never had chickenpox may be infected from virus. Those people who have not had chickenpox before should be very careful when looking after patients with shingles. People who have had chickenpox will not be infected.


Treatment of Shingles


The best way is to have anti-virus medication for around 5-10 days within 72 hours from the onset. The medicine can control the growth of rashes and blisters and reduce the possibility of suffering from postherpetic neuralgia. Patients may take antidepressants or antiepileptic drugs for nerve pain but these may cause side effects.



Prevention of Shingles​


- Enhance your immune system
Pay attention to diet, do sufficient exercises and maintain good ventilation in inside spaces.

- Vaccination
1. Zoster Vaccine
The zoster vaccine is an activated vaccine that can prevent herpes zoster (shingles), herpes zoster-related postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) as well as acute and chronic Zoster-associated pain. It was approved by USFDA and EMEA in 2006 and has been registered in US, Canada, UK, Australia, Korea and Singapore.

The zoster vaccine is recommended for individuals 50 years old or above and it is administered in a single shot, however it is contraindicated for people who are allergic to gelatine, neomycin, or any component of the vaccine as well as for people who are in primary and acquired immunodeficiency states or on immunosuppressive therapy (including high-dose corticosteroids), people with active untreated tuberculosis and pregnant women. Receiving the zoster vaccine may cause adverse effects, such as redness, pain and tenderness, swelling at the site of injection of the vaccine and headache. Therefore, you should consult doctors before receiving the vaccination.

2. Varicella Vaccine
Both shingles and varicella are caused by varicella zoster virus. If children receive the varicella vaccine, they will not be infected with shingles. Both doses of varicella vaccine should be administered at the age of 1 year and before primary 1.


Last Updated : Aug 2017
Please note that all medical health articles featured on our website have been reviewed by Quality Healthcare doctors. The articles are for general information only and are not medical opinions nor should the contents be used to replace the need for personal consultation with a qualified health professional on the reader’s medical condition.
Source: Bupa website www.bupa.com.hk​

Zoster (Shingles)

 

 

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Please note that all medical health articles featured on our website have been reviewed by Quality Healthcare doctors. The articles are for general information only and are not medical opinions nor should the contents be used to replace the need for personal consultation with a qualified health professional on the reader’s medical condition.
Source: Bupa website www.bupa.com.hk​

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