Common Diseases > Shingles
Shingles is caused by a virus called herpes zoster, a normally
dormant form of the virus 'varicella zoster' which causes chickenpox.
While Chickenpox is very common in children and usually only causes mild
illness. Once someone has had chickenpox, they are immune to further infection.
However, the virus remains in the body for life.
Normally, the varicella virus lies dormant and does not cause any further health
problems. But if the immune system, which normally protects the body against
infection, is weakened the virus can reactivate and cause shingles, which are
experienced as a painful rash of small blisters that typically appear on the
body and are often crusty in appearance, often appearing on the chest and back.
In the initial stages of shingles, they are experienced as a mild itching or
tingling feeling which if left untreated result in increasing sharp, aching, or
stabbing pains to the extent sufferers can't even bear the feel of clothes and
at its worst, shingles can appear on the face where there is a danger of them
causing blindness and anyone with shingles is very contagious to anyone who has
not had chickenpox, however, shingles itself is not contagious.
An episode of shingles is a sign of imbalance and a weak immune system. In this
condition, the body is vulnerable to many diseases.
Generally antiviral and pain medications are prescribed for the control of
symptoms and the affected area showing kept covered and dry.
Doctors may prescribe treatment with Famvir, Zovirax (aciclovir) creams or
Valtrex tablets which do not work for all the patients, but generally if
treatment if taken up within 72 hours of the first appearance of symptoms, they
often reduce the severity of an outbreak.
Holistic treatment recognises a weakened immune system and recommends nutrition
and exercise to improve general health and often prescribes
silver cream and other herbal preparations to relieve the rash and
1st Aide at Home
moist dressings to the affected area. (coolness is soothing & heat is
irritating, so avoid heat, tight clothes and fabrics like wool.)
Apply silver cream
Apply calamine lotion
Take vitamin E and C, apply vitamin E (as an oil) to the affected area.