Shingles could be defined as a complication of chicken pox. The concept of shingles without pain is something that perhaps, no one who has had this disease, has come across.
Being affected with shingles, without feeling any pain, is perhaps a rare occurrence. You will undoubtedly bear pain if you suffer from this infection. And in fact, it is the pain that is one of the first symptoms of this viral disease. And also, when it gets worse, it is the driving factor for the patient to go and get treated by a doctor. But on the contrary, there have been instances wherein a few people have not felt the typical pain. And if you are among these people, then you may consider yourself extremely lucky. But going by the maximum number of cases, pain is the most common symptom of shingles.
What is it Exactly?
Shingles is a viral infection that only affects people who have had chickenpox earlier in their lives, commonly during their childhood. The virus that causes chickenpox, is the same offender for shingles too. The pathogen is known as varicella-zoster virus. After the person recovers from chickenpox, it does not mean that the virus has been eliminated from his system. It hides somewhere in the nerve tissues near the spinal cord and the brain. There it goes into a stage of dormancy, until certain factors trigger it and cause it to reactivate again. And then what it causes is known as shingles. It may take several years for the virus to come out of its dormancy. The good news is, it does not create any life-threatening situations for the affected person. Also, vaccinations can reduce the risk of the infection, and if it is treated when it is still in its initial stages, then its duration and risks of complications can be reduced.
As I have mentioned, the first symptom that appears as the infections begin to set in, is a painful sensation, that usually affects a small part or one side of the body. For some, the pain can be somewhat tolerable, while it may be excruciating for others. The affected area may also be felt to be burning, have gone numb, or tingling. A few days post the pain occurs, it becomes worse with the development of a red rash that may itch. This rash can occur in the form of a band of blisters, which seem to be predominant in the chest area on one side, starting from the middle of your back to the breastbone. This rash can also occur around one side of the face or neck. The development of the pain and rash around one of the eyes, may cause permanent eye damage, if left untreated.
After a few days, the same rash forms blisters (fluid-filled), which break open and scab over. And over a few weeks, these clear up. This kind of painful rash is considered to be the most specific sign of shingles. Other symptoms that may accompany include fever, chills, headache, and general body ache. It may be unlikely for shingles to occur without causing any pain, but it is likely for the same condition to develop without any rash for some people.
All it takes is a few weeks for the condition to resolve on its own. But with the help of medications, symptoms can be relieved, duration can be shortened, and complications can be prevented. There are certain antiviral drugs that the doctor may prescribe to the patient. These drugs work well when administered within 3 days of the early signs of shingles. To reduce the pain, patients may be recommended narcotics, tricyclic antidepressants, anticonvulsants or numbing agents.