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What causes you to get shingles? (Herpes Zoster) – Symptoms & Treatment

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Dr. Sunaina Hameed, Dermatologist, Skin Health Bangalore talks about Shingles, a type of skin rash developed due to a viral infection.  The medical name of shingles is Herpes zoster. It is characterized by painful rashes that may take several weeks to clear up.

The varicella zoster virus causes shingles and chicken pox. In individuals who had chickenpox, the virus usually in a dormant state. Years later it can reappear as shingles. It often starts with pain and a general feeling of being ill. The rashes appear a day or two later, mostly on one side of the body. The pain is persistent for several days or weeks at a stretch.

This virus can spread from contact to anyone who hasn’t had chickenpox. Kids, pregnant women, elderly and individuals suffering from immune compromised diseases must avoid anyone with shingles.

“The key to the management of shingles is to diagnose the symptoms as soon as possible. Antiviral medication should be started within 48 hours of the appearance of the infection. Elderly are more prone to shingles.”

Risk factors:

  • Individuals suffering from certain diseases
  • Individuals with a weak immune system
  • Age over 50
  • Cancer patients

Follow these do’s and don’ts if you are suffering from shingles:

  • Keep the area clean and dry to reduce the risk of infection
  • Stay away from work or school
  • Wear loose clothing
  • Cool compresses can be applied few times a day to ease discomfort
  • Do not apply any antibiotic cream
  • Do not dress up the rash
  • Take plenty of fluids and rest well
  • Maintain personal hygiene
  • Avoid exposing the skin to sunlight

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