The varicella zoster virus is the culprit behind causing the condition known as shingles. However, this condition can be regarded as a complication or an outcome of chickenpox; an acute viral infection which is also caused by the same virus. What happens is, after a person is affected by chickenpox and recovers from it, this virus goes into a state of dormancy, and resides in the nerve tissue that lies near the spinal cord and the brain. But due to certain factors such as disease, stress, or aging, the dormant virus may wake up and reactivate, giving rise to various kinds of symptoms. This condition is known as shingles. It is more common in older adults, and those with a compromised immune system
Is Shingles Contagious?
Technically, the answer is a 'No', and I'll tell you why. Now, if you are someone who hasn't had chickenpox nor the chickenpox vaccine, then you may be infected by the varicella zoster virus, from a person who is suffering from shingles. But what is to be known is, you would not, however, develop shingles, but chickenpox. And later in life, you may or may not develop shingles. So what can be inferred from this explanation is, shingles cannot be directly transmitted from a shingle-affected person to the other. Shingles can only develop in a person if he/she has already been affected by chickenpox earlier in his/her life. That is why, shingles is not considered a contagious disease, technically. Know that until the shingles blisters scab over, the person can still pass the varicella zoster virus to those who haven't had chickenpox.
Shingles Symptoms and Treatment
Although not all, some people may have a headache or become highly sensitive to light. They may also experience flu-like symptoms such as chills, body ache, and fatigue but without a fever. All these symptoms may begin in the early stage of shingles.
With time, the real symptoms begin and they stay localized, meaning they tend to affect a small part of one side of the body. Pain, itching, and tingling may begin in a certain area. This pain may be accompanied by a feeling of numbness, or burning sensation. A few days later, a rash may occur in the affected area, which then turns into fluid-filled blisters. These blisters break open, and crust over, taking around 2 weeks or a month to heal. Most people may develop the shingles rash, but there are some who don't.
The virus simply runs its course and gets resolved on its own within a few weeks. However, getting medical help, proves helpful in speeding up recovery, relieving the pain and more importantly, reducing the risks of complication. The below data lists the names of standard medication which is recommended for shingles treatment.
- Acyclovir (Zovirax)
- Valacyclovir (Valtrex)
- Famciclovir (Famvir)
- Certain narcotics
- Medications for numbing the area
- Tricyclic antidepressants
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is meant for informational purposes only and should not be considered as a replacement for an expert medical advice.