Shingles is a painful dermal condition caused by a deep-rooted viral infection. Read about possibilities of shingles prevention from the following article.
Those painful, reddish rashes running in stripes along certain areas of the skin, such as face, neck, arms, shoulder blades, back, etc. are more than just a topical dermal condition. The root cause of shingles and all of its related symptoms is the varicella zoster virus which is the same micro pathogen that causes chickenpox. The technical term for the group of symptoms that comprise shingles is herpes zoster.
However, this condition is totally different from the similarly named oral herpes (the regular cold sores or fever blisters) or genital herpes as the viral pathogen involved in the latter conditions is the herpes simplex virus. However, there does exist a point of similarity between herpes and shingles – the viral pathogens never really leave the body of the host and as such, both conditions are only treatable and not curable. That just makes it all the more important to take steps for its prevention and this prevention-maxim also applies to all other viral infections in which the pathogen remains latent within the host’s physiological system.
Shingles Prevention – A Brief Overview
Before we discuss ways to prevent shingles, let’s take a closer look at the causative agent first. The virus, varicella zoster, is the same one that causes chickenpox. In fact, even after the symptoms of chickenpox seem to have subsided and the condition appears to have disappeared completely, the viral pathogen continues to stay on inside the host’s body in a dormant form.
This means that a person who has had an episode of chickenpox has a very high probability of getting shingles later in life because such a person remains a carrier of the viral pathogen for the rest of his/her life. In fact, this is what happens most of the time. A person who suffers from chickenpox in his/her earlier years most often develops shingles later in life – sometimes even a decade after being diagnosed with and treated for chickenpox!
Now, coming back to the subject of shingles prevention, since the viral pathogen is the same that causes chickenpox and since chickenpox can be prevented by vaccination, shingles can also be prevented by getting vaccinated against it. Shingles vaccine for preventing herpes zoster infection is readily available and any adult who did not get vaccinated against chickenpox during his/her juvenile years can cut down the risk of contracting shingles by getting vaccinated against the varicella zoster virus.
Also, adults who have worked with and around children with chickenpox develop better immunity against shingles in later years. However, one must not harbor the common misconception that the vaccine for chickenpox and shingles is one and the same and that getting inoculated against one will help lower the risk of contracting the other.
The shingles vaccine that is currently available is a live vaccine. While it helps lower the risk of contracting herpes zoster in all those who get inoculated, it also plays an active part in reducing the severity of the symptoms in the event that a vaccinated individual does get infected. This, coupled with the standard shingles treatment measures for symptomatic relief, ensures better management of the pain, blister and rashes that characterize this viral infection.
Besides shingles vaccination, the other most effective way to prevent oneself from contracting the infection is to avoid touching the rashes or blisters of an infected person as well as refrain from sharing things such as food, clothes, utensils, towels, toiletry, cosmetics, etc. with a shingles patient. This kind of discretion becomes all the more essential for individuals who have never suffered from chickenpox in their lives or have never been inoculated against either chickenpox or herpes zoster. As is with all kinds of viral infections starting from something as regular as a common cold to something as life-threatening as AIDS, steering clear is your best bet.