What is Shingles Disease?
Shingles disease, known as herpes zoster shingles, comes from the varicella-zoster virus which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk to contract the shingles virus. Shingles cannot be contracted from an outside source and doctors believe the virus is stored in the nervous system following an earlier outbreak of chickenpox. When the varicella-zoster virus is reactivated later in life, it travels back along the nerve fibers out through the skin cells and causes a painful red skin rash of fluid-filled blisters, primarily on one side of the body. The rash that occurs, most commonly around the waistline, is itchy to some and extremely painful to others. As with the development of any type of skin rash, especially those exhibiting symptoms of shingles, it is important to see a doctor to determine the cause and to receive proper diagnosis and treatment.
Common Treatments of the Shingles Virus
Those who suffer from the herpes zoster shingles virus are most commonly prescribed a course of anti-viral medication. Some sufferers may develop “postherpetic neuralgia” which is a painful after effect of shingles disease that is successfully treated with topical agents, steroids, anti-depressants and/or anti-convulsants. In healthy individuals who receive treatment, the blistery rash and pain usually subside within 3-5 weeks. The shingles virus can be a serious threat to those who suffer from HIV or other immunosuppressive related diseases and should be addressed and treated immediately if suspected.
There are many resources available to those who contract herpes zoster shingles including the American Chronic Pain Association, the National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain and the VZV Research Foundation which has a specific focus on research of the varicella-zoster virus. Each of these organizations provides helpful information on the shingles virus and shingles disease.
American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA)
P.O. Box 850
Rocklin, CA 95677-0850
Tel: 916-632-0922 800-533-3231
National Foundation for the Treatment of Pain
P.O. Box 70045
Houston, TX 77270
VZV Research Foundation
24 East 64th Street
New York, NY 10021