Shingles is in the news today and is a subject worthy of discussion.
This virus “varicella-zoster” is an opportunistic virus that once inside the host remains there for life.
It lives in the area called the dorsal horn of the spinal nerves and in times of physiologic stress will activate and present as a very painful rash.
It requires that you have been exposed to the chickenpox, usually as a child.
The rash consists of irritating little blisters that follow the sensory nerve distribution. Called the dermatome. Because it works through the nerve it never crosses the midline of the body.
There is no cure for this little monster but it can be treated with anti-viral medication which may reduce the duration of the active lesions.
The severe pain associated with this disease can be treated with medications and nerve blocks.
Post herpetic neuralgia will at times result from this infection and the pain is intense.
There is now a vaccine “Zostavax” for people over 50 years of age which reduces the risk of contracting shingles and can last up to six years or more.
Discuss this with your doctor at your next visit.