Shingles Symptoms, Causes & Treatments
Every year there is an estimated 1 million cases of shingles in the United States, with 1 in 3 people developing shingles during their lifetime. Shingles is a painful infection of the nerve supplying an area of the skin and appears as a blistering skin rash usually in one of more distinct bands, called dermatomes.
Shingles, Varicella-Zoster Virus & Herpes Zoster
In the right conditions, the herpes zoster virus can wake up after being dormant for years. When it wakes, it is much different than chicken pox. Shingles symptoms are usually more painful because shingles affects nerves in the skin and can cause various flu-like symptoms and a blistering rash that last for weeks.
Shingles is most common is people over the age of 50. However, the virus has the ability to appear in people of any age tho have previously been exposed to chicken pox.
The Varicella-Zoster is a herpes virus that causes chicken pox and shingles
Shingles blisters usually form on bands on the body. The blisters can be extremely painful and uncomfortable.
Shingles is a painful skin virus that emerges after someone has chickenpox, following a reactivation of the virus called “varicella zoster” (VZV) that has been dormant for some time. Unlike chickenpox, which is known to be very itchy and uncomfortable, shingles symptoms are usually more painful since shingles affects nerves in the skin and can cause various flu-like symptoms that last for weeks.
Shingles is actually very common, especially among older adults, and you’re likely more susceptible than you might think. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost one out of three people in the U.S. will develop shingles at some point.
It’s estimated that more than 90 percent of adults in the U.S. carry VZV and are therefore at risk for the development of shingles. As you get older, your risk goes up, since studies show that most people (over half) who develop shingles are over the age of 60. This is why adults 60 or older are often advised to get vaccinated against the shingles virus — although as you’ll learn, this isn’t always necessary and shingles natural treatment approaches (like using antiviral herbs) can also be effective for prevention.
Every year there are an estimated 1 million cases of shingles in the United States, with 1 in 3 people developing shingles during their lifetime.
Although shingles (also sometimes called herpes zoster) is caused by carrying a virus, certain risk factors make people more susceptible to its effects. Having the virus alone doesn’t guarantee that shingles will develop, and even if it does, certain preventative measures can help keep it from returning once it’s cleared up.
What are some of the most common risk factors for developing shingles symptoms? These include older age, having a weak immune system or poor gut health, a history of a disease that affects the immune system, being under a lot of stress, and taking certain prescriptions, among others.
Common Shingles Symptoms
The CDC states that many people describe the intense pain from shingles as being “excruciating, aching, burning, stabbing, and shock-like … It has been compared to the pain of childbirth or kidney stones.” The virus commonly causes shingles symptoms, including:
- A painful rash that appears as blisters spread throughout the body (including the chest, stomach, face, back and limbs)
- Sometimes a stripe of blisters concentrated in one area forms, especially over the trunk abdomen or chest — blisters tend to appear in lines that run from the middle of the body expanding outward to one side
- Tngling sensations or “pins and needles”
- Scabs and redness
- Ulcers or small blisters that burn
- Pain on parts of the skin that lasts even once the rash clears up (called postherpetic neuralgia)
- Fatigue, pains, aches and symptoms similar to a fever
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Vision-related problems when the blisters appear near the eyes