Herpes Zoster Shingles: Getting Acquainted with the Disease

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If you think you are now immune from developing chicken pox rashes and blisters since you got it when you were still a kid—but then the opposite is true! You might have developed chicken pox before but this doesn’t make you immune from developing diseases similar to varicella zoster virus (the causative agent for chicken pox).

Varicella zoster virus may also carry another virus which is called the herpes zoster virus. Although you may have recovered fully from the disease after a week or two—herpes zoster virus may have taken the opportunity to lodge into your nerve endings. These herpes zoster viruses may live in the nerve endings for years… even decades, for that matter. It just lies asleep and inactive in the area until the moment for its reactivation takes place.

This certain herpes zoster virus may reactivate at any point in time. Situations wherein these viruses start to become active are:

-          Presence of another infection, either viral or bacterial in etiology;

-          Stress, both physical and emotional;

-          Presence of another disease (not necessarily an infection) which may put stress to the body.

Herpes Zoster Shingles Stages

Like any other diseases, herpes zoster shingles also undergoes a series of stages which can be characterized by a group of signs and symptoms.

Prodromal Stage. This certain stage occurs at the onset of the Herpes Zoster Shingles reactivation. Once exposed to the predisposing factors of getting a reinfection, a person may feel the following signs and symptoms:

-          Fever (low grade and intermittent);

-          Cough and colds (other flu like symptoms);

-          Conjunctivitis or redness of the eyes;

-          Fatigue and easy tiredness;

-          A certain area of the body may also start to itch and feel some tingling sensations;

-          Appearance of red rashes in a single band of the skin/ dermatome;

-          Generalized body weakness and malaise.

The prodromal stage may go on for about three to five days and a person might not yet be aware of the pending herpes zoster shingles infection, until the rashes start to appear by the end of the stage.

Eruption Stage. For about a week, the person may feel sick and the following signs and symptoms may also be present:

-          Redness of the rashes;

-          Sharp and shooting pain;

-          Occasional numbness of the area;

-          Blister formation; a whitish fluid may be present inside the bulla;

-          Eruption of blisters.

Recovery Stage. The recovery stage of herpes zoster shingles is evidenced by the drying up of the affected area, scab formation, etc. Pain is still present and it is important to take note that the person is still contagious even at this point in the recovery phase.

Cleaning the area regularly will prevent further contamination of bacteria and development of scars. Recovery phase may go on for a week or two and even after the shingles rashes have completely gone off, a person may still occasionally feel pain at the site.




  1. ljashiywe says:

    I have herpes and I am an engineer who works for the largest herpes dating and support site STDsMatch. com. I have to tell you a secret, you can choose not to believe me. But the truth is that this site has more than 650,000 members and about 80% members are good looking in my estimation.

    Unfortunately, STD rates soar worldwide and most people with STDs don’t even know that they have them. The government should grant more money for STD education to lower the rates of STD transmission.

  2. There is no place for the words “herpes simplex” in this article. Shingles (a recurrences of chickenpox) is not caused by the same virus. (Apples don’t grow on pear trees”)
    Marian Nicholson, Director, Herpes Viruses Aossiciation and Shingles Support Society

    • Thanks for the comment! It was a mistake! That should be herpes zoster not herpes simplex. Editing it now.

  3. I have had Herpes Zoster in my shoulder and left arm for nearly three months now and it will not go away
    any ideas what to do to get rid of the discomfort?

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