What Causes Shingles?

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PAIN, Pain and MORE pain! That’s what shingles can bring! There are a lot of misconceptions about developing shingles. Shingles is not a contagious disease… Once cured of shingles, it stays away for life, or shingles only happen in the elderly—these are a few of the misconceptions which many people hold about shingles. And the thing is, most of these myths will lead to improper knowledge, belief and perception towards how one can develop shingles.

Patients who have suffered from shingles will find it hard to compare the pain brought about by shingles rashes. This is because pain due to shingles is neural in origin—meaning, it originates from the nerves itself. The transmission of pain impulses is more direct and immediate since no other pathways will need to passed by the pain stimuli.

In order to understand how this disease can be prevented, it is very important to understand what causes shingles. There are many reasons why people can catch shingles, and another list of reasons why these shingles do reactivate after a period of say a decade or two, or even more.

Varicella Zoster Virus and Herpes Zoster Virus

What causes shingles is mainly a disease during childhood—chicken pox or varicella. The virus that causes shingles is actually the same virus that caused chicken pox at an earlier point. What happens with chicken pox is that the virus causes blistering and rashes all around the body especially in the trunk. Chicken pox rashes can be very itchy but it does recover on its own after about seven to ten days. The worst thing about a chicken pox infection is that it does not leave our system fully.

When we get infected with chicken pox, the virus lies dormant in our nerve endings and when we suffer from lowered immune system and other related factors, we develop the same condition again—but this time in the form of shingles.

Treatment for Shingles

Now that we know what causes shingles, the next step is knowing the treatment options for us in terms of recovering from shingles.

Antiviral medications can help in relieving the pain and itchiness that shingles rashes can bring. Oral antiviral drugs as well as topical medications can help hasten the recovery and drying of the shingles blisters.

In case of intense pain, more potent pain relievers may also be given to a person. However, caution must be observed in taking potent analgesics since they may be dangerous to the liver and may lead to drug dependence.

It is important to take note that like chicken pox, the virus that causes shingles does not leave our system, as well. As a result, we may feel the neuralgic pain due to shingles at some points, even decades or years after shingles has fully recovered. Thus, one must not put too much stress on himself or herself, keep a healthy immune system and practice exercise and stress reduction in order to lessen the possibilities of a reactivation of the shingles virus.

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