What are shingles? What are causes of a shingles outbreak?
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is caused by the varicella zoster virus. If the virus sounds familiar, it is because this virus is also responsible for chickenpox.
Once a person has recovered from chickenpox, the virus lays dormant in the nerves of their body for years. In most cases, the virus is inactive, and doesn’t cause a shingles outbreak. However, there are some cases wherein the virus is reactivated and, instead of having chickenpox again, the person gets shingles. This means that the only people who can get shingles are those who have recovered from chickenpox.
What are the symptoms of shingles?
The symptoms of shingles can vary from case to case. Some experience only mild symptoms, while others exhibit severe symptoms that can last for months. Here are some of the possible symptoms:
- Burning, tickling, or itchy sensation on skin
- Skin that is sensitive to touch
- Severe pain that lasts for months even when the typical rashes have resolved.
- Loss of vision when the shingles rash occurs around the eyes
- Difficulty hearing
One complication that arises from less than 4 percent of shingles cases is known as post-herpetic neuralgia or PHN. Neuralgia refers to a type of pain that occurs when a nerve gets damage. In the case of PHN, it’s because of the shingles outbreak. This can cause very intense pain, and touching cloth or even the softest breeze can trigger this.
It can sometimes last for months or years, or be permanently (this is extremely rare). Sometimes, PHN is so debilitating that a person finds it almost impossible to complete daily activities and tasks.