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19 years
What are the zona symptoms? Is it curable and how?
Oct 20, 2014

Dr. Zakia Dimassi Pediatrics
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster or zona, is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles results from the reactivation of the chickenpox virus, which remains in the nerve cells of the body after an attack of chickenpox or after having received the varicella vaccine. Anyone who contracts chickenpox or gets the varicella vaccine is at risk of developing shingles later in life, since the virus lies dormant in the body. Yet again, people who have never had chickenpox can catch the virus from another person with shingles, but these individuals would develop chickenpox (not shingles).

Shingles appears as a skin rash characterized by pain and blistering. It starts with pain and tenderness over a particular zone of the skin (hence the name zona). The skin then turns red and breaks out in tiny fluid-filled blisters.

Shingles can affect any part of the body, including the face. Typically, the shingles assumes a sort of a a belt or band distribution around or across the body. The rash forms its characteristic pattern because the virus works down the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord and encircle the body. The chest and stomach are most commonly affected.

The rash can last from days to weeks. The blisters gradually dry out and form a scaly crust. Once the attack is over, the skin usually returns to normal, but some scarring may occur in severe cases.

Shingles is a contagious illness and can spread when a person comes into contact with fluid contained in the blisters. The virus can be spread by direct contact with the lesions or by touching any dressings, sheets or clothes soiled with discharge from the spots.

Shingles is treated with an antiviral medication called Acyclovir, in addition to analgesics to control the pain and burning sensation that accompany the process. The medication works best if administered within three days, and ideally within 24 hours, of the onset of a rash.

Sometimes, a complication of this condition may develop and is known as post-herpetic neuralgia. What happens is that the pain doesn’t improve once the shingles rash has cleared. This is more likely to occur when the shingles rash appeared on the face rather than the body. This type of shingles rash tends to affect the skin around the eye and occasionally, the eye itself.
Postherpetic neuralgia can last for months or years. Capsaicin creams can help. Pain-relieving medication or tablets specific for nerve pain may be needed.