The disease Shingles, also known as Herpes Zoster, is a painful rash that can develop on one side of a person’s face or body. The rash consists of blisters that cause itching and scab within 7 to 10. However, the rash usually clears within 2 to 4 weeks. The cause of this disease is the same virus responsible for chickenpox (Boston Public Health Commission, 2018). The virus remains inactive and viable in the person’s body after being infected with chickenpox in early childhood (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019). The illness affects the nerves, causing pain to tingle, burn, itch, and shoot. It can cause blisters and rashes as well.
The most noticeable symptoms of the disease are pain and blisters. However, the affected person may suffer from other symptoms also.
The person suffering from Herpes Zoster would first feel a tingle in their skin; as soon as the blistering starts to appear, their skin would start burning and aching. This pain is that the rash travels through the person’s nerve path, causing them strange sensations and mild to severe pain in some conditions. The affected person can also feel a sensitivity to touch and itching and often finds relief in using a shingles cream.
Sometimes, a Herpes Zoster might feel like chickenpox, as both diseases can develop blisters on a person’s body. These blisters are crust over, open, and ooze fluid from inside. However, the only difference between the diseases is that chickenpox spreads on the whole body while Herpes Zoster usually stays in one area and affects that area.
The blisters are more common to appear on your torso, where they would cause itching. The blisters would curl around on your waist on your body’s single side. Sometimes, the rash might appear on one side of your face around the eye. In this case, it’s better to see your doctor as it might cause long-term side effects and is very painful at the same time.
A person suffering from this disease would develop some other symptoms common in every viral infection. These symptoms include headache, fever, fatigue, and chills.
How is the disease spread or transmitted?
A person having the Shingles at first would experience tingling, usually on one side of the body, followed by a numb and burning sensation. The painful rash can appear on the internal organs, mouth, face, abdomen, and back.
After a few days have passed, the rash would turn into fluid filled small blisters surrounded by red skin. These blisters, after a week, would dry up and crust over. Another person will catch the virus if they come into contact with the blisters’ pus between the period when the blisters appear and when they dry up and crust (Roth, 2018). However, exposure to this pus is not likely to cause the person Herpes Zoster; instead, they can develop chickenpox.
The spreading of the virus through pus can only happen to people who have not been vaccinated against chickenpox or who have never had chickenpox their entire lives. There is no threat of spreading the virus before the blisters emerge and after they have crusted over. A person having no active blisters cannot transmit the disease.
Sneezing or coughing can also not transmit the virus if the Herpes Zoster has not developed in the person’s oral cavity. The virus can only be transmitted if a person gets in contact with the fluid from the blister.
Can the disease occur again?
A person out of his/her right mind will want to feel or think about the excruciating stabbing and burning agony of the disease again. Sadly, it can also happen twice or in some instances, even three times. There is still disagreement; however, about how frequently the disease is likely to occur again. Between the years 1996 to 2001, researchers studied 1700 patients who were affected by the disease.
They concluded that five percent were again treated within 8 years for the second series of the illness by reviewing the records, which suggested that the sickness could likewise occur.
When the virus occurs again, it can cause a burning pain because it goes to the nerves; thus, the nerves get inflamed. A rash might appear on the infected area after a few days of its reccurrence. As the skin becomes highly sensitive, the person can’t handle the slightest touch. Many persons who have healed completely can feel long-term pain (Robinson, 2020). The virus, triggering the illness again, can deactivate also. However, this is not as it can reactivate again after some time.
How can the transmission be prevented?
A person with the disease should take these precautions to prevent it from spreading (Prevention, 2019).
Keep the blisters covered:
As the puss from the blisters can transmit the virus, it is better to keep it covered to prevent other people from coming into contact.
Keep your hands clean:
It’s better to avoid touching the blisters and wash your hands as frequently as possible.
Avoid contact with the following people:
A pregnant woman and the baby are more vulnerable to be affected by the virus. Try to stay away from a pregnant woman. In case you do, notify her immediately.
You should also stay away from a premature or a low birth baby as the virus can easily be transmitted to the baby, causing higher risk.
Stay away from people having a weakened immune system, such as an HIV positive person, a heart patient, or a person who had a transplant.