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Shingles is also known as herpes zoster. Shingles is a disease where painful rashes appear on the skin. Only people who have suffered from chicken pox in the past or have taken a chicken pox vaccine can get shingles at any time. You may have suffered from chicken pox when you were a child. The virus that causes chicken pox stays in the body in the nerve endings even after chicken pox is cured. The immune system of the body keeps the virus in check but when we grow old our immune system becomes weak. That’s when the virus may escape from the nerve cells and cause shingles. People who are more than 50 years of age have greater chances of getting shingles.


The symptoms are painful and blistering rashes. The pain may start a few days before the rash appears on the body. There are reddish bumps visible in the beginning. The rashes are normally found in the chest and the back region. The blisters fall off from the body after about 10 days. There may be color changes in the skin when the blisters fall off and in a few cases this color change maybe permanent. The pain normally goes away in about 1 to 3 months. In a few cases shingles can also affect the eyes causing pain, welling and redness. Hence people who have shingles in the eyes should consult their doctor right away because in a few cases shingles may also cause glaucoma.


There are several medications available for treating shingles. These medications are Valtrex, Zovirax and Famvir. Consult your doctor as to which medication you should take. Your doctor will tell you to start taking the medications immediately after you get shingles. Your doctor may also give you steroids to treat shingles. Steroids and antiviral medicines are used for treating shingles in the eye.

Use of lotions

To ease the pain, your doctor may also prescribe you lotions to apply on the rashes. Medicated lotions like Benadryl and Caladryl are quite effective for the rashes. Your doctor may also prescribe you medications than the ones mentioned above such as Tylenol and Motrin.

Does shingles spread?

You can’t spread shingles to anyone but chicken pox does spread to others if proper precautions are not taken. If you have shingles you are advised to keep away from children who are less than 12 years of age.


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