Shingles, also called Herpes Zoster, is a painful, blistering rash caused by one of the Herpes viruses… but not the one everyone’s afraid of. And while it’s contagious, you’ll be very surprised to find out what you can catch from it. Stay tuned and I’ll tell you.
Shingles used to be an “older” persons disease, but we see it more and more in young adults, starting even in the late 20’s. It’s caused by the chickenpox virus whose medical name is the Varicella-Zoster Virus. And while it’s one of the 4 viruses in the Herpes family of viruses, it has NOTHING to do with the Herpes Simplex virus, which is the one that causes both oral and dreaded genital Herpes.
In medicine, Shingles is considered to be one of the great imposters because the initial symptom before the rash comes out is pain for a few days. That pain can be severe and can even imitate the pain of a heart attack, kidney stones and even appendicitis. It’s usually a shooting or radiating pain in the area where the rash comes out.
OK. But you don’t “catch” shingles from another person… shingles is a reactivation of your own dormant Chicken pox virus that has been harmlessly sleeping in one of your nerves for decades, ever since you had chicken pox as a kid. Then, for reasons we don’t understand, the virus wakes up, and travels down the nerve to the skin where it causes clusters of blisters in most of the area of the skin that that particular nerve goes to. Since when nerves come out of the spine they either turn left or right, the rash is usually only on one side of your body, often wrapping around you from your back to your side, and then to your front.
Without treatment, the rash lasts two to three weeks, but is shorter with treatment.
Shingles is important for many reasons. First, if diagnosed and treated within the first three days, oral medication can shorten the painful rash and help prevent post herpetic neuralgia, which is pain that can be severe and linger for months after the rash clears up. Second, as a great imposter, it’s important to think of it so those serious medical problems it imitates are not incorrectly diagnosed. And last, because it’s caused by the Chicken Pox virus, you are contagious to others and can give them chicken pox if they have never had either chickenpox or the vaccine.
But the good news is you CAN’T give someone shingles. So if you develop a painful blistering rash, see your doctor for treatment ASAP!
Now for today's skincare trivia! Answer today's question correctly and you'll be entered in a drawing to win a free skincare product! Submit your answer at DermTV Dot Com Slash Trivia, within three days of this episode's airing. Today's question is:
Why is this rash called Herpes Zoster?
And while you can find the answers to most DermTV Trivia questions in DermTV episodes, you may have to once again look outside for the answer to today's question.