What is Shingles / Post-Herpetic Neuralgia?
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UNDERSTANDING Shingles / Post-Herpetic Neuralgia
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus—the same virus responsible for chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in the body, but it can reactivate later in life and cause shingles. Shingles typically presents as a painful rash that develops in a specific area of the body, often on one side of the torso or face. The rash is accompanied by fluid-filled blisters that eventually scab over.
One of the most significant complications of shingles is post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), which can occur when the pain associated with the rash persists long after the rash has healed. PHN is caused by nerve damage from the shingles virus, leading to chronic pain that can be severe and debilitating. The pain may be burning, sharp, or throbbing and can last for weeks, months, or even years.
SYMPTOMS of Shingles / Post-Herpetic Neuralgia
If you are experiencing shingles or post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), you may encounter one or more of the following symptoms:
- Rash: Shingles typically presents as a painful rash that develops in a specific area of the body, commonly on one side of the torso or face. The rash is characterized by clusters of fluid-filled blisters that eventually form scabs as they heal.
- Pain: The pain associated with shingles can range from mild to severe and is often described as burning, sharp, or shooting. The pain may be localized to the area where the rash is present and can persist even after the rash has healed, resulting in post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).
- Sensitivity: The affected area may become highly sensitive to touch, making even light pressure or clothing uncomfortable and painful.
- Itching: Some individuals may experience itching in the affected area before the rash appears or as it heals.
- Numbness or Tingling: Nerve involvement in shingles can lead to sensations of numbness or tingling in the affected area.