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Symptoms and Signs of Shingles

Shingles is a viral infection that is caused by the same virus that is responsible for chickenpox. It can be a painful condition that shows up mostly in older adults.

You would have thought that when childhood was over so were the childhood diseases. However, there are some forms of adult conditions that have similar causes as childhood ones. We are talking about shingles.

The cause of shingles is the varicella zoster virus. You may recognize varicella as the cause of the chickenpox. Shingles is quite painful, even more so than chickenpox. It can often be missed if some symptoms are not present to alert you to what is actually going on in your body.

Even if you have had chickenpox as a child you can also develop shingles. The virus may lie dormant in your body and reappear later on. Some people who have never had chickenpox may also develop shingles.

One of the common signs is a rash. This rash usually occurs on your back and spreads out in a band around the front of your body. The rash produces blisters. The blisters will itch and burst, producing a pain, burning or even numbness in the area. Blisters usually occur around this area but can come in contact with the face and other areas of the body.

What else may happen? You may experience flu-like symptoms such as chills and even fever. Headaches and fatigue are also common with shingles. The hardest way to diagnose this condition is if there is no rash to give an indication.

Like any other condition involving sores, when the sores break open, the person becomes contagious. In this state it is best to avoid anyone who hasn’t had chickenpox, particularly children, pregnant women and those who have a compromised immune system. Contact with your sores will lead to a case of the chickenpox rather than shingles.

The biggest thing about shingles is the pain. You can use over-the-counter medications to ease it: ibuprofen, naproxen and acetaminophen. When the pain gets unbearable, it is time to visit a doctor. They can prescribe some antiviral drugs like those used for herpes infections to help as well.

On your own, keep the area of the rash dry and covered. The outbreak of shingles may last up to a month. Calamine lotion can help dry out the blisters and help them crust over and heal faster. It is imperative that you don’t scratch them. Anti-itch creams can keep you from resorting to sandpaper.

Shingles is caused by the same virus as chickenpox in children. Those who have never had chickenpox are at great risk for developing the condition when coming in contact with an infected person.